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Tyler Mitchell: The Story of Beyonce's Vogue Cover



Beyoncé's fourth cover of American Vogue was a story. Not because she was the first black woman on the cover (Beverly Johnson, 1974), not because she was the first black woman to handle a September issue (Naomi Campbell, 1989), and not because she got the most Vogue covers had a black wife (Shari Belafonte and Rihanna both have five). For the first time in history, the cover of American Vogue was filmed by a black photographer: Tyler Mitchell
  Vogue Cover with Naomi Campbell (1989)

Vogue Cover with Naomi Campbell (1989)

When I first started Twenty-one years ago, I was told that it was difficult for me to get to front pages of magazines because black people did not sell, "Beyoncé wrote in her extended captions accompanying the imagery." This is clearly a myth. Not just an African American on cover of Vogue's most important month, it's the first Vogue cover taken by an African American photographer. "
  Beyoncé by photographer Tyler Mitchell for Vogue

Beyoncé by photographer Tyler Mitchell for Vogue Credit: Tyler Mitchell

In 126 years of Vogue, the magazine had several permutations, starting as a weekly, then moving to a biweekly and then finally monthly in 1973. Representatives of Condé Nast point to a cover by Edward Painted from a woman in a swimsuit in 1932 as the beginning of cover photography from the publication, but 1959 brought the first year of all photographic covers and began heralding an era of Vogue. Know it today.

Context to numbers like 126 years and 1,512 editions of Vogue, which are spread via social media – in fact there were ü over 2,800 titles. But even with these clarifications, the lack of black photographers is still a blatant failure.

  Vogue Cover by Edward Steichen (1932)

Vogue Cover by Edward Steichen (1932)

"Fashion editors generally tend to have a handful of their favorite, dependable photographers, whose work, dating For whatever reason, copies seem to move or sell, "said Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, CNN in a telephone interview this week.

"And with the cover, this is a very special topic, because they want someone who sells copies of a magazine, they will not use anyone who is nervous or different, but someone who is reliable and looks similar to other things "Commercial profitability is becoming increasingly important with the September issue, which has been positioned as the most important theme of the year, as explained in a 2009 documentary. As Steele noted, it is known to have the most ads of the year.

The majority of the most sought-after photography in haute couture is photographed by a small group of photographers. From the beginning of the photographed cover, Vogue estimates that they have given glory to some 60 people, many of whom have been reused.

  Vogue cover with Cindy Crawford, recorded by Richard Avedon (1986)

Vogue cover with Cindy Crawford, shot by Richard Avedon (1986)

The late Richard Avedon shot over 140 covers and began sporadically in the 1960s and 1960s 70s, before he came to an almost exclusive time and from June 1980 to October 1988 covered all titles except one title. Also other names appear again: Steven Meisel, Patrick Demarchelier, Irving Penn and Mario Testino. These in-kind names routinely book some of the largest high-fashion advertising campaigns.

  Vogue Cover with Nicole Kidman, shot by Irving Penn (2004)

Vogue Cover with Nicole Kidman, shot by Irving Penn (2004)

"I remember most of these photographers are men" said Antwaun Sargent, an art and cultural critic, over the phone. "And how Annie Leibovitz in some ways must be the only one." This conversation is not just about race, it's about gender and things like age, there's a difference in how men and women shoot the body. "

There are only a handful of female photographers in the cover story of Vogue in the photographs and information reviewed by Condé Nast. Annie Leibovitz appears as the only woman to have made a cover of Vogue Solo since Karen Radkai and Frances McLaughlin-Gill in the 1950s and Toni Frissell, who preceded them both in the 1930s and 1940s. Inez van Lamsweerde has shot three covers since 2017 with her partner Vinoodh Matadin.

  Vogue Cover with Marion Jones, shot by Annie Leibovitz (2001)

Vogue Cover with Marion Jones, shot by Annie Leibovitz (2001) [19659013] To get to that point, Vogue (and the High- Fashion industry as a whole) ignored generations of photographers, including some of the black photographers who have informed Mitchell's own work.

"The way [Tyler] thinks about blackbody lighting, his survey of blackness in general, is something that many generations of photographers have looked at," said Sargent, referring to a variety of Mitchell's utterances he says shoots with a "honest look".

  A costumed showgirl sits on a swing over the crowd during a 1958 performance at the Latin Quarter nightclub in New York, New York.

A costumed showgirl sits on a swing above the crowd during a performance in the Latin Quarter Nightclub, New York, New York, 1958. Photo credits: Gordon Parks / The LIFE Image Collection / The LIFE Image Collection / Getty Images

While some names such as Gordon Parks – Parks were the first black photographer to photograph Vogue in the 1940s – and Lorna Simpson have turned to Vogue for book – there are many more that do not exist. Photographers like Carrie Mae Weems, Awol Erizku, Mickalene Thomas, Micaiah Carter and Shaniqwa Jarvis, all from a multitude of generations, and all black, all with a reputation for commercial footage, have been largely excluded from American Vogue. Jarvis shot for Supreme, Nike and Adidas – while these brands are not high-fashion brands, they're talking about profitability. In fact, this summer's discussion turned out to be that a screenplay Jürgen Teller did for an international edition of Vogue mimicked Thomas's characteristic aesthetic. Why was Thomas not simply hired?

  A young high school student photographed by Gordon Parks

A young high school student photographed by Gordon Parks Photo credits: Gordon Parks

On Instagram, Naomi Campbell spoke with the lack of black photographers in high fashion. When stylist Ugo Mozie wrote and criticized Vogue for taking so long to get a black photographer for the cover, the iconic supermodel commented, "You're right, it's a shame! In my 32 years, I've only been with For that reason, I will continue to champion diversity in my industry. "While her agents did not want to state whether Campbell said she had never worked with a black fashion photographer in Vogue – she had seven covers – or in the Overall, with a career as productive as hers, the status is damned. [19659037] But why is this change coming now?

Before the front page was revealed, the Huffington Post reported that Vogue had ceded control of the cover to Beyoncé. According to the publication Beyoncé had brought Mitchell to Vogue, thereby initiating the change of history.
  Beyoncé by photographer Tyler Mitchell for Vogue

Beyoncé by photographer Tyler Mitchell for Vogue Credit: Tyler Mitchell

"Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnic groups behind the lens "We will continue to have close access and a glimpse of what the world actually looks like, so I wanted to work with this brilliant 23-year-old photographer, Tyler Mitchell," she wrote in her cover story. "When people in powerful positions continue to only hire and work people who look like them, they sound, they come from the same quarters where they grew up, they will never have a better understanding of other experiences, curate the same models same art, throw the same actors again and again, and we will all lose. "

Vogue tells a different story. They proposed to Beyoncé the name Mitchell in a list of other photographers, and Beyoncé chose the young artist to understand its historical significance. Mitchell even supported this version on his Twitter account, in a now deleted tweet. Regardless of what actually happened, the new step extends Modes long-lasting conversation via representation, finally behind the lens.
For decades Vogue had no real reason to free herself from the creatives they had used. Stylists and editors continued to use their favorite photographers. But in recent years, with America's lack of interest in print magazines, a series of sexual harassment allegations that have led Condé Nast to distance himself from various photographers and engage in fashionable talk about identity, changes have been made.
  Beyoncé by photographer Tyler Mitchell for Vogue

Beyoncé by photographer Tyler Mitchell for Vogue Photo credit: Tyler Mitchell

"[My black photography students] We all said we did not really look out there, in industry, photography. "Kimberly Jenkins, a lecturer at Parsons, said by phone. "One of them in particular said that she wanted to become a photographer because she not only saw black photographers in fashion, but also no black women."

This mentality is the latest The development of a conversation that has been in vogue for more than a decade is probably beginning with the demand for more diverse castings of models on catwalks and in advertising campaigns. These calls were soon filled with calls for more black designers and stylists and even the hair and makeup teams. But the role of the photographer seldom sneaked into the dialogue.

"It's such a powerful position, you know we're definitely doing the styling now, and we're definitely doing hair and make-up, but letting a person of color, especially a black person, take control about the lens and control the gaze for a big publication? That's a big responsibility, "said Jenkins. "You're directing [the public] into how we're going to look at something."

And now this should also be done through a "mosaic of perspectives".


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