Vogue to release new Kamala Harris cover after original sparks backlash

Vogue will publish a limited print edition of its February issue, featuring Kamala Harris, with a new photo following widespread backlash against an original cover image widely held to lack respect for the vice-president-elect.

The limited edition, with a cover image previously used online, will be published after inauguration ceremonies on Wednesday, when Harris will become the first person of Black and south Asian descent sworn in as vice-president.

The original cover image, showing Harris wearing Converse sneakers and casual clothes, sparked ire on social media, users questioning why Vogue would choose the image over the more formal online cover featuring Harris in a powder blue Michael Kors suit in front of a gold background.

The Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan wrote: “Vogue robbed Harris of her roses. A bit of awe would have served the magazine well in its cover decisions. Nothing about the cover said, ‘Wow.’ And sometimes, that’s all Black women want, an admiring and celebratory ‘wow’ over what they have accomplished.”

There were also questions over lighting, considering Harris’s skin tone. Vogue was previously criticised for its lighting of the gymnast Simone Biles, its August cover star.

A Vogue spokesperson said: “In recognition of the enormous interest in the digital cover and in celebration of this historic moment, we will be publishing a limited number of special edition inauguration issues.”

The news was also shared on Instagram.

Last week, the editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, explained that the original photo – by Tyler Mitchell, in 2018 the first African American photographer to shoot a US Vogue cover – was chosen for its accessibility and approachability.

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Wintour also discussed negative reaction to the photo.

“Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover,” Wintour told the New York Times, “and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice-president-elect’s incredible victory.”


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