First of all, Vogue is doing what they always do and allowing you to order this single issue on Amazon rather than making you take the arduous steps of buying it at the supermarket next time you run in for coffee and eggs. (I actually don’t think it’s a terrible idea, as people are sort of accustomed to the ritual of having a magazine arrive in the mail.) However, this September, you also get A COMMEMORATIVE BOX for your September issue. Behold!
I want everything I buy from Amazon to come in a commemorative box.
To the matter at hand: As you know, Beyonce hasn’t given an interview in something like five years — my guess is that she doesn’t enjoy them (or, at least, doesn’t enjoy knowing that someone else will be telling her story), and she doesn’t need to do them for her career, and so she just doesn’t do them, which is nice work if you can get it. This issue was promoted with the promise that Bey would be writing her own “long-form captions,” which might be how this appears when you look at it in the physical magazine, but online, it basically just looks like Beyonce weighed in on a variety of issues that are meaningful to her. She is thoughtful and straightforward, and personally I far prefer this to the trend of having one celebrity interview another celebrity, because at least she talks about actual. You should pop over to Vogue and read the whole thing, but I wanted to highlight this part:
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. That is why I wanted to work with this brilliant 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell.
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. 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.
It’s important to me that I help open doors for younger artists. There are so many cultural and societal barriers to entry that I like to do what I can to level the playing field, to present a different point of view for people who may feel like their voices don’t matter.
Imagine if someone hadn’t given a chance to the brilliant women who came before me: Josephine Baker, Nina Simone, Eartha Kitt, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, and the list goes on. They opened the doors for me, and I pray that I’m doing all I can to open doors for the next generation of talents.
If people in powerful positions continue to hire and cast only people who look like them, sound like them, come from the same neighborhoods they grew up in, they will never have a greater understanding of experiences different from their own. They will hire the same models, curate the same art, cast the same actors over and over again, and we will all lose. The beauty of social media is it’s completely democratic. Everyone has a say. Everyone’s voice counts, and everyone has a chance to paint the world from their own perspective.
(Interestingly, Vogue is saying that hiring Mitchell was their idea; my feeling is that Beyonce told them she wanted a black photographer, and they presented him as an option, but the magazine is really pushing the narrative that this entire cover was their brainchild. Business of Fashion theorizes that this is because they’re worried it makes them look powerless to tell any other story, in a piece about this cover that is quite interesting from the logistical perspective.)
Here is the subscriber cover:
Both of these covers are infinitely superior to the last time Beyonce was on the cover of September Vogue, which was very underwhelming. Mitchell also gets a profile in this month’s issue, which is something I wish magazines would do more often — although, of course, how many times can you run a profile of, say, Mario Testino? I think his work is stunning; both of these covers have a dreamy sense of place and time to the point where they actually feel, to me, like September. Real September, when we’re all still hot and it’s still summer, not Fashion September, when we’re all supposed to be lugging our tweed hats of storage or whatever. They also feel very on-brand for Beyonce; the newsstand cover with the floral headpiece in particular feels very related to the visual story she tells about herself. It’s refreshing to see a Vogue cover and think, “oh, yeah, that makes sense,” rather than, like, “what is Rooney Mara doing in this shot?!?!“