Vogue, as many know, has been around for quite a while. The history of this magazine goes as far back as 1892, the year they published their very first magazine cover. It began as a weekly paper in the United States, but later expanded itself and became a monthly publication. This fashion and lifestyle magazine has become iconic in the United States, including many much-loved celebrities on its cover. So how come Beyoncé’s recent cover shoot stands out so brilliantly?
In terms of strides toward diversity, the progress of Vogue in the U.S. has been incredibly slow. This magazine company has been around for 125 years, so it’s a little shocking to look at the history it has with the small steps it’s been taking towards integration. In 1974, Beverly Johnson became the first African-American woman to grace the cover of Vogue. This was 82 years after Vogue came into existence.
Overall, fifteen women of color have been featured on the cover in Vogue’s 125 year history. However, only three of these women have been featured on the cover of the September issue, the fashion industry’s biggest, most influential month. These three include Naomi Campbell in 1989, Halle Berry in 2010, and Beyoncé in 2018.
Not only is Beyoncé’s presence on the cover significant, her choice in photographer makes history for the magazine as well. This September issue marks the first time an African American has ever photographed the cover shoot for Vogue.
His name is Tyler Mitchell, a 23-year old-photographer from Marietta, Georgia, who has been taking photos since ninth grade. Along with being the first-ever black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover, he is also one of the youngest photographers ever to do so. Beyoncé and Mitchell worked together in the shoot, fully displaying his talent and unique style as a photographer in the fashion industry.
Beyoncé embodies a natural look in all of the photos we see in the magazine, wearing a minimal amount of makeup, with Mitchell’s skills as a photographer on full display. Floral backdrops and hazy sunlight made for a gorgeous layout as you turn the pages.
In addition to their dreamy quality, Mitchell’s photos of Beyoncé in this shoot also give the readers an on-set feeling. They are not the sharp, high-definition photos readers are used to seeing on the cover of every magazine. His photos have a slight blur to them, and this technique gives his photos a “pre-digital” feel that is so attractive at the moment.
The way the photos are taken also speaks to what Beyoncé is trying to embody and show on this cover in this season of her life. She is showing a more naturalistic version of herself, with a simple makeup look and peeling away the glamour and glitz that we always think of in our heads when we hear her name.
In her brief interview with Vogue, we get a glimpse into this season of her life with her family, creative pursuits, and new discoveries that are growing her as a person.
Overall, the cover story of Vogue’s Fall 2018 issue and the story behind it is progress for the slow advancement of diversity in this magazine.
As Beyoncé says in her cover story, "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.”