Why Are Margot Robbie & Nicole Kidman On The Cover Of British Vogue?

For his debut as the editor-in-chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful gave readers what they'd been waiting for. A shrewd choice to feature mixed-race British supermodel-in-the-making Adwoa Aboah on his first issue marked a pivotal point in the magazine's history, heralding the start of a #NewVogue era. At last, British Vogue was dynamic, directional, and most importantly: diverse. The acclaimed debut was followed by a second issue covered by American pop superstar Taylor Swift — that made headlines for the wrong reasons — and on Wednesday evening, Enninful managed to disappoint readers again, revealing his third cover, starring Australian actresses Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie.
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Entitled 'Hollywood's New Era', the shoot lands just before awards season and celebrates stars of the big screen – both established and emerging – in a "Best Performances" portfolio, which was intriguingly co-produced with W magazine, where Enninful was formerly creative director. Robbie and Kidman feature alongside Saorsie Ronan, Emma Stone, Gal Gadot and Hong Chau, as well as "13 more of the year’s greatest performers." However, rather ironically considering the predominantly white lineup, a second cover line refers to an article in the magazine called “Why We Need To Talk About Race.”
With Enninful's appointment came the hope of a bold new direction for the style bible and a much-needed does of racial representation following Alexandra Shulman's 25-year-editorship, which was routinely pelted with criticism for its lack of diversity. Now, after revealing yet another cover of more white, blonde celebrities, some have questioned whether much has moved on from Shulman's reign. And why not. Naturally, Twitter set itself aflame.
Speaking about the new issue, Enninful reasoned why he decided to lead with Robbie and Kidman: "When I first decided that Vogue should put together a star-filled portfolio featuring the biggest names in current cinema to mark the exceptional 2017/18 awards season, who knew Hollywood would soon be top of the global news agenda," he wrote via press release. "It was clear to me that the mood needed to change. That it was a time for honesty... Over four days in Los Angeles it was great to spend time with [Juergen Teller] and some of today’s amazing talents as they look to reshape how Hollywood does business in a post-Weinstein world, including cover stars Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman – two of the most straight-talking professionals I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with."
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But in a "post-Weinstein world," where we are at last striving to overcome the archaic, deplorable opinions that have ruled Hollywood for so long (from systemic sexism to institutional racism), would this not have been the perfect opportunity to recognize less obvious and more diverse stars of the screen? What's more, after a first issue that proudly celebrated British talent, what stopped Enninful from putting a British actress on the cover — or, at the very least, a British fashion brand? For the record, Robbie and Kidman are wearing Louis Vuitton and Dior, respectively, both fitted with LaCrasia gloves.
Many will be unapologetic — and quick — to criticize Enninful for his predictable cover choices for his second and third issues, especially for their incongruity with the path he'd laid out for the magazine with his first. However, as one of the greatest visionaries in fashion publishing, and someone who has tirelessly championed inclusivity with arresting, boundary-breaking images throughout his career from i-D, to Vogue Italia and W, we're starting to lose hope that Enninful plans to deliver on his promises, and transform British Vogue into the diverse, definitive style title it ought to be.
Perhaps the chief editor doesn't want to alienate the loyal fanbase Shulman and her team had built up over the past quarter of a century, or perhaps he wants to ensure that Vogue sells as many copies as possible at a time when print media is in decline — after all, celebrities sell covers whilst the editors fill in the rest. Regardless, he'll have to eventually follow up on that #NewVogue idea or else that hashtag, and the international edition's legacy, will die.
The February issue of British Vogue goes on sale on January 5.

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