Anna Wintour, who has been editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988, has never given control over the magazine’s cover, and she’s never hired a Black photographer for it.
Tyler Mitchell, 23, a New York University graduate and Instagram sensation, who has shot campaigns for Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, will shoot Beyoncé for the September issue.
“The reason a 23-year-old Black photographer is photographing Beyoncé for the cover of Vogue is because Beyoncé used her power and influence to get him that assignment,” an unnamed source told Huffington Post.
The record-breaking entertainer had to use her influence to be the sponsor in the room for Mitchell, instead of a Black editor at Vogue, because there isn’t one.
In both the magazine and fashion industries, executives, designers and editors have been, and are still, largely white.
Fashion professionals of color are underrepresented in large fashion mainstream publications and often seek minority-driven publications or go out on their own.
The percentage of African-American designers who are members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America: approximately 12 out of 470. Editors of color in journalism still hover around 5 percent.
While Vogue has begun to put more Black and Brown faces on covers, making them decision makers at a powerful fashion brand that influences the industry and the way the country and the world sees Black people should take priority as well.
“I depict Black people and people of color in a really real and pure way,” Mitchell told The New York Times last December. “There is an honest gaze to my photos.”
Teen Vogue has had a small number of Black editors, British Vogue recently brought on the first Black editor-in-chief in 100 years, and American Vogue’s former fashion news director and creative director Andre Leon Talley from 1983 to 1995 and editor at large from 1998 to 2013 have been examples. But even Talley is still asking the question:
“Where are the Black people?” Talley said. “I look around everywhere and say, ‘Where are the Black people?’ I think fashion tries to skirt the issue and finds convenient ways to spin it. There are examples of evolution, but they are few and far between. The biggest leap of faith was Edward Enninful becoming editor of British Vogue — that was an extraordinary thing.”
There are rumors Wintour may be leaving Vogue this summer, and that Enninful might be her replacement. Perhaps, Beyoncé’s control is the beginning of a new era at Vogue and in fashion.