Following a widely-praised debut issue of British Vogue, newly-minted editor-in-chief Edward Enninful has returned with a cover that may not be as boundary-pushing, but will undoubtedly be just as newsworthy.
To kick off the new year, (the new) Taylor Swift covers the magazine's January 2018 issue. Shot by photography duo Mert and Marcus (with whom she collaborated on promotional items for her new album Reputation), the "Look What You Made Me Do" singer wears a red, studded dress from Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello; her hair is styled in wet-look, grungy waves, and her makeup includes kohl-ringed eyes and a plum lip (very T-Swift circa "Bad Blood.") Through the piece, entitled "Taylor Remade," it's evident Enninful and his #NewVogue team wanted to portray the chart-topping singer in a way the world has rarely seen her before. But it's worth noting that in May 2016, American Vogue took the same approach, titling its shoot: "Who's That Girl? Taylor Swift As You've Never Seen Her Before."
“For me, the chance to help transform America’s most fascinating sweetheart was a joy," Enninful said in a press release. "As we took the pop icon on an epic fashion journey with photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, what struck me most about Taylor was her brilliant sense of humor, but also how, for a woman in her twenties, she has an incredible sense of who she is. Obviously she is a world-class lyricist — and has written a stunning poem just for Vogue on the timely subject of reinvention and moving on — but she also takes her duties as a role model very seriously. Taylor is acutely aware of her following and how she communicates with young women, and will never portray a character that would send the wrong message."
For many, Enninful's appointment heralded a pivotal moment in the style title's history, and the hope for a more directional, dynamic, and representative vision for British Vogue following Alexandra Shulman's 25-year reign, which lacked diversity in terms of her editorial team as well as within the pages of the magazine. So here's an Edward-level idea: Wouldn't it have been a really bold statement to cast a woman of color for every cover of his first year? As someone who knows what his readers wants — and has, time and time again, outwardly discussed delivering on that — the decision to feature Swift arguably feels safe and unsurprising.
Though the cover will most likely be a surefire hit with the masses (including her 104 million Instagram followers), as the 27-year-old prepares for her upcoming Reputation stadium world tour, it's hard to see the choice as anything but promotional material. Sure, Swift has major selling power (Reputation sold 1.05 million copies in four days, becoming 2017's album of the year), but considering the magazine once went 12 years without having a Black woman on its cover, it would have been powerful to see Enninful continue what he started in November by steering away from the classic cover star trope — a young, thin, white woman. Enninful is a creative who surprises, inspires, and informs, and his #NewVogue should champion the brightest and as-yet unknown-stars from Britain and beyond — not give Taylor Swift a makeover we've already seen time again.