Vogue Will Print Alternative Kamala Harris Cover Following Backlash

American Vogue will publish a limited print edition of its February issue, featuring Kamala Harris, with a new photo following widespread backlash after the original cover image appeared too casual and “washed out.”

The preferred alternative cover image previously used online which features Harris in a light blue suit against a gold background will be published in a limited print run after inauguration ceremonies on Wednesday, Vogue announced Tuesday.

“In recognition of the enormous interest in the digital cover, and in celebration of this historic moment, we will be publishing a limited number of special edition inaugural issues,” Vogue wrote on its website, with similar messages posted to social media.

The original print cover, showing Harris wearing Converse sneakers and casual clothes, sparked backlash on social media, after it was leaked last week.  Fashion critics and social media users said that it appeared poorly lit, while others suggested it was “disrespectful” and failed to relay Harris’ distinction as the first Black, Asian American and female vice president.

Both images were taken by Tyler Mitchell, who, in 2018, became the first Black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover with his portraits of Beyonce and according to The New York Times Mitchell is known for his unstudied aesthetic.

Washington Post’s Robin Givhan, wrote that while “there’s nothing inherently wrong” with the picture, in selecting the more informal one as its cover, “Vogue robbed Harris of her roses.”

CNN reported, other critics said the image made the Vice President-elect’s skin appear “washed out” and was out-of-keeping with Vogue’s glamorous aesthetic. Playwright and lawyer Wajahat Ali described it as a “mess up,” adding that Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour “must really not have Black friends and colleagues.”

The famous Vogue editor-in-chief later defended the choice, saying that the magazine’s creative team had felt that the casual look was right for the current climate.

“When the two images arrived at Vogue, all of us felt very, very strongly that the less formal portrait of the Vice President-elect really reflected the moment that we were living in,” Wintour said in a statement to the New York Times last week. “We are in the midst … of the most appalling pandemic that is taking lives by the minute, and we felt to reflect this tragic moment in global history, a much less formal picture, something that was very, very accessible, and approachable, and really reflected the hallmark of the Biden-Harris campaign…”

Harris’ team had initially believed the blue and gold cover, which attracted praise online, would appear on the print edition, according to a source familiar with discussions, though Wintour said there had been “no formal agreement.”

Social media users last week described the image of Harris in the powder blue suit as “presidential” and “more appropriate.” and gained approval from Erica Baker, a software engineer and commentator on diversity, who tweeted that the image is “much more neutral, much better edited, much more magazine cover quality.”

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

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