If it seems like I am always ragging on Vogue, its because I expect them to do better, to know better, and if they are as fashion forward as they want to believe they are, want to convince their readers that they are, they should re-define their definition of fashion, step outside their comfort zone and sit up.
Jourdan Dunn is Vogue UK’s February cover girl. Somewhere in the swish offices of Vogue someone is sitting there, patting themselves on the back, believing in the false hype that they have broken some bullshit boundaries. No you haven’t. Rather, you have only set out to reiterate what a myopic and increasingly redundant magazine you run. Jourdan Dunn is the first solo black model since Naomi Campbell in 2002. TWELVE YEARS. Its not that we haven’t had black models or black celebrities or black athletes etc. who should be on the cover of Vogue, its that Vogue is lazy and sloppy and, if we are calling it what it is, racist. You want black people to spend their money with you but you won’t even show us the courtesy of representing us on your “hallowed” pages.
A plethora of issues plague Vogue, many of which I have gone into a fair few times, so this isn’t new, but it continues to be shameful. It is as ludicrous as Prada using its first black model in twenty years for its ad campaign and being lauded for it or using the first black model on its runway in ten years since Naomi Campbell closed the show, which also happened to be Jourdan Dunn. Bullshit. There is nothing groundbreaking in tokenism and it only reiterates the many separatist tenets in society from way back when which have now resurfaced in much harsher ways. Vogue’s inability to better represent its readership goes above and beyond aesthetic, its an undercurrent of racism, it purports the belief that only caucasians read the publication. If that’s how you want to market your magazine, then step up and be about it, don’t skirt and hide behind your empty gestures only to revert back to your stock in trade. Vogue is the “fashion bible” as it so markets itself, in an industry that still only allows a certain amount of black models, Dunn herself has revealed that she has been turned down for work because designers she’s black. Hence, Vogue ought to lead the way not toe the line.
With this cover it would seem the fashion industry is finally ready to let another black girl fill the boots of Ms Campbell, but this is nothing to be proud of.
In 2012; There were no Black cover girls on Vogue UK. None.
In 2013, Beyonce was May cover girl, meanwhile Kate Moss, Vogue’s resident go-to girl had two covers; June and December.
In 2014; Dunn was cover of the Miss Vogue, which reads like a rip off cover of Seventeen, as was Malaika Firth one in a trio in October, but lets be honest, who really cares about Miss Vogue? Is it even still in circulation? Meanwhile Cara Delavigne snagged two covers; January and September, and of course Kate Moss had two covers; May and December 2014.
If this isn’t inherently lazy and insipid, I don’t know what is. NYMag glibly refers to this as a “diversity milestone“; it’s not. Insulting is what it is.
This is not to say Vogue has completely been devoid of black people on the cover, we’ve had Rihanna and Beyonce in between, but that doesn’t even begin to make up for its institutional lack of diversity. The twelve year gap only speaks to the mentality of the powers that be at Vogue, and most other publications out there. It is mediocre, and if there is one thing that cannot be forgiven from an institution that wants its audience to believe it is a forerunner, it is mediocrity.