Beyoncé. Rihanna. Yara Shahidi. Tiffany Haddish. Tracee Ellis Ross. Lupita Nyong’o. Zendaya. Slick Woods. Issa Rae. Aja Naomi King. Laverne Cox. Naomi Campell.
In an unprecedented move, almost all of the cover stars on the coveted September issues of mainstream fashion magazines – including Vogue, Glamour and Elle – are black.
September 2018 is clearly the month of #BlackGirlMagic, with the 12 black women listed above covering the fashion industry’s biggest (both in physical size and importance) issue of the year.
Even InStyle, which featured Jennifer Aniston on its primary cover for the September issue, tried to get in on the tail end of the action by including Dutch Moroccan-Egyptian model Imaan Hammam on one of their subscriber covers.
It’s a powerful statement on beauty, blackness and recognizing cultural tastemakers. Highlighting black women who not only run the gamut in skin tone, hair texture and build, but who are also leaders in their industries, is impressive. It’s exciting and brings hope to a year that has felt like a dumpster fire more often than not.
Having Nyong’o, with her darker skin and natural short crop, on the cover of Porter magazine’s “Desire Issue” or putting trans actress and activist Laverne Cox on Variety’s cover would have been unheard of years ago. That’s power.
“Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnicities behind the lens, we will continue to have a narrow approach and view of what the world actually looks like,” Beyoncé said in her Vogue cover story, which was photographed by Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot American Vogue’s cover in the publication’s nearly 126-year history.
That narrow approach seems to be changing: The new issue of British Vogue boasts both the magazine’s first black editor-in-chief, Edward Enniful (who emigrated to London from Ghana), and its first black September cover girl, Rihanna (who was born In Barbados). The Elle Canada issue that Ross covers was produced by the only black editor-in-chief in the Elle network, Vanessa Craft. Under her leadership, six of the last 11 issues have featured women on color on the cover.
But that change, while welcome, has been slow: the crop of September issues comes 53 years after Donyale Luna made history as the first black woman to appear on the front of a magazine with her Harper’s Bazaar cover in 1965. The following year, she became the first black woman to appear on the cover of British Vogue. (American Vogue wouldn’t do it until 1974 with Beverly Johnson.)
Essence magazine hinted at this slow change for their peers when they announced their own September cover, featuring Naomi Campell wearing Dapper Dan for Gucci and interviewed by Andre Leon Talley. “Giving Black women covers since May 1970,” the magazine tweeted.