Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour continues to face backlash over diversity complaints at the fashion magazine, with current and former staffers continuing to call for her resignation even after her apology for ‘mistakes’ over the summer.
In a lengthy New York Times article published on Saturday, 18 black journalists who have worked with Wintour said Vogue favored employees who are thin, white and from elite backgrounds. Eleven called for her resignation.
‘Fashion is b***hy,’ one black former staff member told the newspaper. ‘It’s hard. This is the way it’s supposed to be. But at Vogue, when we’d evaluate a shoot or a look, we’d say ‘That’s Vogue,’ or, ‘That’s not Vogue,’ and what that really meant was ‘thin, rich and white.’ How do you work in that environment?’
It follows Wintour’s mea culpa in a June 4 internal memo, as protests over the death of George Floyd gripped the nation and internal revolt threatened the top brass at Condé Nast, the publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker and Bon Appétit, among other titles.
Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, seen next to Harvey Weinstein in 2017, is facing calls for her resignation over alleged racism and lack of diversity at the magazine
Wintour has been Vogue’ editor in chief since 1988 and Condé Nast’s artistic director since 2013, making her the editorial leader of all its titles
‘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,’ wrote Wintour, who has been Vogue’ editor in chief since 1988 and Condé Nast’s artistic director since 2013, making her the editorial leader of all its titles.
‘We have made mistakes, too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes,’ she continued.
After the memo leaked, black fashion titan André Leon Talley, a former top editor at Vogue who left in 2013 following a falling-out with Wintour, blasted her apology in a podcast interview.
‘Dame Anna Wintour is a colonial broad,’ Talley said. ‘She’s part of an environment of colonialism. She is entitled and I do not think she will ever let anything get in the way of her white privilege.’
Black fashion titan André Leon Talley (above), a former top editor at Vogue who left in 2013, blasted Wintour’s apology, calling her a ‘colonial broad’ and ‘entitled’
The Times article details a number of examples of alleged racism under Wintour’s leadership.
In 2017, Wintour used an offensive racial term in an email as she raised questions about whether or not a photo shoot of black models wearing bonnets would itself be perceived as offensive.
‘Don’t mean to use an inappropriate word, but pica ninny came to mind,’ Wintour wrote.
In a statement to the Times, Wintour said: ‘I was trying both to express my concern for how our readers could have interpreted a photo and raise the issue for discussion, and I used a term that was offensive. And for that, I truly apologize.’
When Wintour asked a black assistant to weigh in on the photo shoot, the assistant said the image was not offensive, but expressed displeasure at being asked to render a verdict as a junior staff member, according to the Times.
In another 2017 incident, Kendall Jenner appeared at a London fashion week party wearing fake gold teeth, which a white Vogue writer described as ‘a playful wink to the city’s free-spirited aesthetic — or perhaps a proverbial kiss to her rumored boyfriend, A$AP Rocky.’
The Times reports that a black Vogue staffer expressed outrage, saying that the gold teeth were cultural appropriation, and a top lieutenant brought the issue to Wintour’s attention, writing: ‘If Kendall wants to do something stupid fine but our writers (especially white ones) don’t need to weigh in and glorify it or ascribe reasons to it that read culturally insensitive.’
Wintour appeared dismissive of the cultural appropriation crisis, responding: ‘Well I honestly don’t think that’s a big deal.’
This year’s September issue of Vogue, the most important of the year, was dedicated to black culture and contributors
Also in 2017, white model Karlie Kloss drew cultural appropriation accusations when she appeared in Vogue in a geisha outfit, with her face in pale makeup and her hair dyed black.
After internal cries of alarm over the feature, Wintour reportedly replied that it could not have been cut because of its ‘enormous expense.’
Wintour also drew criticism for not appearing during a large Condé Nast meeting on race in June, despite serving as head of the company’s diversity and inclusion council.
Condé Nast says that 42 percent of its editors are now non-white. This year’s September issue of Vogue, the most important of the year, was dedicated to black culture and contributors.
‘I strongly believe that the most important thing any of us can do in our work is to provide opportunities for those who may not have had access to them,’ Wintour told the Times in a statement.
‘Undoubtedly, I have made mistakes along the way, and if any mistakes were made at Vogue under my watch, they are mine to own and remedy and I am committed to doing the work.’