Hey, Quick Question: What's Up With This British 'Vogue' Coverline?

The magazine's latest cover has left readers feeling disappointed.
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The magazine's latest cover has left readers feeling disappointed.

Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion and beauty industries. Enjoy!

When Edward Enninful was announced as the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue, the industry let out a collective cheer. The hope was that Enninful would bring a breath of fresh air to the legacy publication, and he delivered with his very first issue starring Adwoa Aboah

But it appears the promised revolution hasn't quite come to Vogue just yet. Following his excellent December outing was an issue starring Taylor Swift; slightly disappointing for those hoping for less-expected cover stars, but still a coup for Enninful, who landed the elusive Swift's first "Reputation"-era fashion spread. 

The February issue, however, is proving to be a major letdown. British Vogue released the cover, shot by Juergen Teller, to its Instagram account on Wednesday, and it quickly spread across social media channels — not for its cover starlets, Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman, but for the seeming return of the mostly-white vision of Vogue that had reigned for decades. The list of actresses in "Hollywood's New Era" are also largely white, with Robbie, Kidman, Emma Stone, Gal Gadot and Saoirse Ronan garnering most of the coverlines; Hong Chau is the only actress of color listed. Making matters worse is this coverline: "Why We Need to Talk About Race."

"The need is very much there!" tweeted Refinery29 writer Connie Wang

"omg.....the new issue of british vogue........we started off so strong.........and now we're back to white women and chiffon smh [sic]," tweeted reader Diva Mukherji.

Understanding that covers are often planned months advance, and that new editors can get locked into the decisions of their predecessors, there is definitely some cognitive dissonance at play on this cover. Is the coverline an attempt to counteract the blonde, white female-ness of the cover image? Were there no trail-blazing actresses of color available for the "Hollywood's New Era" package? Is Enninful still boxed in by archaic expectations?

Regardless of the reason, we're holding out hope that Enninful can still deliver his vision of #NewVogue — and maybe the inside of the February issue has more to offer than its cover suggests.

See the full shoot in the February issue of British Vogue, on sale Friday. The Best Performances portfolio is co-produced with W Magazine.

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