When Beverly Johnson became the first Black model to cover Vogue magazine in 1974, she broke down a boundary — but even in the nearly 50 years since, only a few Black women have landed the coveted spot on the fashion bible.
People around the world want that to change — and to that end, hundreds have been participating in the #VogueChallenge on social media in the past few weeks, mocking up their own versions of Vogue covers spotlighting Black faces.
Artists, models, and more have been posting their all-Black Vogue covers on social media in an effort to amplify Black voices in fashion and media.
Raised up: Artists, models, and more have been posting their all-Black Vogue covers on social media in an effort to amplify Black voices in fashion and media
Viral: The #VogueChallenge actually began in mid-May on TikTok , and initially, it encompassed people of all races who designed their own Vogue editions starring themselves on the cover
Popular: The trend has taken on new life after Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour addressed that ‘Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators’
‘We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes,’ Wintour said
But in light of the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the country, the trend has taken on new life.
In particular, many have taken to sharing their Black Vogue covers in response to a letter written by editor-in-chief Anna Wintour this month.
In the memo, she wrote: ‘I want to say this especially to the Black members of our team — I can only imagine what these days have been like. But I also know that the hurt, and violence, and injustice we’re seeing and talking about have been around for a long time. Recognizing it and doing something about it is overdue.
Variety: Some people have posted pretty selfies, while others have done artsier covers
Talented: A 20-year-old artist created this stunning possible Vogue cover
Ideas: Like several other participants, Abihail Myrie imagined a ‘Vogue Africa,’ which doesn’t exist
Making a statement: Some of the covers went heavy on the fashion element
‘I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators.
‘We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes.
‘It can’t be easy to be a Black employee at Vogue, and there are too few of you. I know that it is not enough to say we will do better, but we will — and please know that I value your voices and responses as we move forward. I am listening and would like to hear your feedback and your advice if you would like to share either.’
Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok users have responded with examples of what Vogue could look like if it centered more Black models and creative talent.
‘Reminder,’ wrote one Twitter user. ‘#VogueChallenge is not an art challenge but a trend to uplift and amplify black creatives voices’ in response to Anna Wintour’s “hasn’t found enough ways to elevate and give space to black creators” statement despite being Vogue US editor in chief for three decades.’
A Chicago woman put herself on a cover with big hoops and natural hair
More faces: While some set up solo covers, others mocked up issues with group shots
One Twitter user spotlight Black trans models, like this cover with Tashan Lovemore
“It’s even more fun to think of magazines hiring Black trans and gender-expansive visual narrators to do the work,’ a Twitter user wrote of this cover with Dash and Devin N.
‘The #VogueChallenge is truly beautiful to see,’ tweeted photographer Joshua Kissi. ‘It isn’t enough to have JUST Black models on the cover of Vogue. There should be space for Black photographers to bring these stories to life.
‘In Vogue’s 125 [now 127] year history there has been one Black photographer to photograph a cover,’ he added.
That single Black photographer was Tyler Mitchell, who shot Beyonce in 2018 — and was personally picked by the Grammy winner.
‘You know, we should be shooting covers of Vogue month to month, not just as a first,’ he told NPR at the time.
‘[Photography] was known as a rich man’s art, so it was mostly for white men who were able to afford all of the chemicals, the films, the cameras that went into it in the very early stages,’ he went on.
Joining in: Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok users have gotten in on the challenge
Gorgeous: Beauty influencer Mercy made up two beautiful covers
Not good: One one Black photographer has ever shot the cover of Vogue
Small number: Teen Vogue reports that there have also been only 21 Black women to cover the magazine solo
‘It’s a historical thing that goes into why there just haven’t comparatively been as many black fashion photographers as white fashion photographers. But the part that I can’t answer is why they haven’t been recognized … the amazing black photographers and black fashion photographers that have been shooting.
‘The iPhone is the thing that opened up everything. The beautiful thing about now is that it’s no longer somebody that can afford the best camera, but it’s about what your eye says.’
Teen Vogue reports that there have also been only 21 Black women to cover the magazine solo.
Along them are Beverly Johnson, Naomi Campbell (who was the first to cover the September issue, in 1989), Kiara Kabukuru, Oprah, Halle Berry, Liya Kebede, Jennifer Hudson, Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Rihanna, Lupita Nyong’o, Serena Williams, andZendaya.