Words: Daniel Allen
From British Vogue to Elle Canada, influential women of colour are showing the world just how powerful they really are.
First was the news that Rihanna was going to be the cover of British Vogue. Styled by Edward Enninful and Nick Knight they both brought a bold and dramatic new look to the cover of Edward Enninful’s first September issue. Rihanna looked stunning with her Prada dress and razor-sharp eyebrows, that have a 1980s punk element to them. What is shocking about this cover however: she is the first woman of colour to cover the September issue of British Vogue within its 102-year history of being a publication. At once, there is a triumphant step forward in the predominantly white-washed space of Fashion, and, a light shone on the significant absence of a celebration of women of colour in 102 years.
Whilst Rihanna was making waves within the UK, it was announced across the Atlantic that Beyoncé would be on the September issue of American Vogue. Not only this, but, Beyoncé was given complete control over the issue and chose a young photographer named Tyler Mitchelle; the first black photographer to work on an American Vogue shoot within its 125-year history.
In comparison to the British Vogue cover, Beyonce’s was stripped back and almost makeup free. She told Vogue “I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies […] That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for this shoot.” Beyoncé also commented: “When I first started, 21 years ago, I was told that it was hard for me to get onto covers of magazines because black people did not sell,” she told Vogue. “Clearly that has been proven a myth. Not only is an African American on the cover of the most important month for Vogue, this is the first ever Vogue cover shot by an African American photographer.”
This is a historical month for the fashion industry as it wasn’t just Rihanna or Beyoncé fronting the cover of major magazines but other women of colour were dominating the front covers of prestigious magazine publications, women such as Tiffany Haddish, Zendaya, Tracee Ellis Ross, Princess Nokia, Slick Woods, and Issa Rae.
Tracee Ellis Ross posted on her Instagram account a collage of all 8-magazine cover with the caption “THE POWER OF BLACK WOMEN.”
Diversity within fashion is a rather new phenomenon that was greatly needed and long overdue. The fashion industry still has a long way to go when it comes to bringing diversity to all areas of the industry – especially on the catwalk. But, it is a positive movement to see dated views regarding the previously binary relationship between inclusivity and Fashion left behind.