Fashion

Anna Wintour defends controversial Kamala Harris Vogue cover

Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is standing by her magazine’s polarizing cover shot of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Harris, 56, fronts the fashion bible’s February issue photographed by Tyler Mitchell in her own blazer, jeans and Converse sneakers, leading some to criticize the photo choice as “insulting” and “a poor representation of [a] woman of color in power.”

Wintour, 71, addressed the backlash in a statement to the New York Times on Tuesday, saying that Vogue had “heard and understood the reaction” but that “it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the Vice President-elect’s incredible victory.”

A different image was used for Vogue’s digital cover, featuring the VP-elect in a pale blue Michael Kors Collection pantsuit. Some on social media speculated that Harris’ team believed the same photo would appear on the print edition as well, but Wintour stated that there was “no formal agreement” about the two shots.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Vogue’s February coverTyler Mitchell for Vogue

“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 which we are all in the midst — as we still are  — of the most appalling pandemic that is taking lives by the minute,” Wintour continued.

“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 real, really reflected the hallmark of the Biden-Harris campaign and everything that they are trying to, and I’m sure will, achieve.”

The day before Harris’ cover leaked, Wintour spoke with Kara Swisher for the Times’ “Sway” podcast, calling the chosen image “charming and relaxed” as well as “joyful and optimistic.”

“I cannot imagine that there’s anyone that really is going to find this cover anything but that, and positive, and an image of a woman in control of her life who’s going to bring us … the leadership, that we so need,” Wintour said at the time. “And to me, it’s just a very important, but positive, statement about women, and women in power.”

Former Vogue editor André Leon Talley also defended the cover. “It’s GREAT. JUST GREAT. GREAT,” he wrote on Instagram Tuesday.

“Her work uniform with her ubiquitous Converse sneakers is aspirational. I predict its [sic] going to set a trend for all young women all over the world, [who] are going to dress like Kamala Harris,” he continued, praising 26-year-old photographer Mitchell’s work as “superb.”

“Take me down. Clapback at me on social media. All I can say is Anna Wintour is not abdicating. And I wish I was there, at Vogue, to celebrate w/the team,” Talley concluded.