*Twitter has overwhelmingly rebuked the lighting, styling and set dressing of Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris’ new cover of Vogue magazine’s February 2021 issue.
It was so bad that people thought the two covers (print and digital versions) tweeted out by Vogue Sunday were “deep fakes.”
Wait that Kamala Vogue cover is real?! I thought it was fake—that’s how bad it is.
Did they just ask her to send them photos her husband took or
— ⚖️Imani Gandy ⚖️ (@AngryBlackLady) January 10, 2021
In the image for the digital version, Harris stands in front of a pink drape with a pale green background (a nod to the colors of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority), casually dressed in a two-piece suit and Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. The shoes have become her trademark.
One Twitter user called the entire image “a washed-out mess.”
Kamala Harris is about as light skinned as women of color come and Vogue still fvcked up her lighting. WTF is this washed out mess of a cover? pic.twitter.com/5O2q0axA0G
— E. Vaughan (@HypeVaughan) January 10, 2021
what the absolute hell is this cover… the fit is atrocious, the fabrics are tacky & their placement is lazy & messy, the color choice is nauseating, & the headlines are god awful. Put these bootlicking Condé Nast publications & racist ass Anna Wintour out of business already!! https://t.co/6MAr7m81lk
— dj dolce (@audreyyyp) January 10, 2021
The Vogue cover is a nightmare. It looks like the VP elect got stopped on a step-and-repeat at a function and is patiently trying to get through it before going into an event. Look at that crumpled silk waterfall. What even is that? https://t.co/x1Mn052Pi7
— Allison in Quarantine (@andevers) January 10, 2021
Much of the criticism accused Vogue editor Anna Wintour of dropping the ball when it comes to styling and photographing Black women, and that Harris’ images are “below the standards of Vogue,” wrote LGBTQ rights activist Carlotte Clymer. “They didn’t put thought into it. Like homework finished the morning it’s due.”
Later Sunday, after absorbing the backlash, Vogue released the above image that featured Harris dressed more formally in a powder blue suit in front of a gold backdrop.
Vice President-elect @KamalaHarris is our February cover star!
Making history was the first step. Now Harris has an even more monumental task: to help heal a fractured America—and lead it out of crisis. Read the full profile: https://t.co/W5BQPTH7AU pic.twitter.com/OCFvVqTlOk
— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) January 10, 2021
In a statement, Vogue said it chose a more casual look for the print magazine’s cover because it represented the “authentic, approachable nature, which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden-Harris administration.” Vogue also clarified that the clothing hair and makeup styling was made by Harris’ team.
CNN reported a source close to Harris’ team saying they were disappointed with the cover choice and had believed that the more formal image was going to be used for the print version. The team even asked if a new cover could take its place, although the magazine had already gone to print in December, according to CNN.
Both photos were shot by Tyler Mitchell, who gained fame as the first Black photographer to shoot an American Vogue cover in the magazine’s history with his 2018 Beyoncé cover. Mitchell did not directly weigh in on the debate on Sunday, but tweeted the cover of Harris in the powder blue suit that evening.
Wintour, responding to criticism of her covers featuring Black women, acknowledged past “mistakes” in an internal memo earlier this year.
“Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate or give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers, and other creators,” Wintour wrote. “We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I want to take full responsibility for those mistakes.”