From the moment we heard Beyoncé would have complete creative control over the September issue of Vogue, we've been waiting for the drop like it was another one of her visual albums. And, as expected, the queen delivered.
On Monday, Vogue (and Beyoncé) debuted the covers and inside images, which were shot by Vogue's first Black cover photographer in its 126-year history, 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell. With her hair styled by Neal Farinah and minimal makeup courtesy of longtime makeup artist Sir John, the photographs show Bey in a rare light.
Rather than wearing the wigs, extensions and weaves that have become part of the performer's signature look, Beyoncé appears in this Vogue issue with her natural hair in braids, accented by big lush flowers, not unlike Rihanna's September British Vogue cover.
Her makeup is stripped back too, with only a touch of natural-looking foundation, a bit of highlighter, and clear lip gloss. As with everything Beyoncé touches, the look was meant to impart a deeper message. "I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies," she says in her cover story: "That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for this shoot."
Her fans were thrilled, immediately taking to Twitter to praise the look and important moment of representation.
In this issue, Beyoncé also gets very real about her post-baby body, saying that she's come to peace with how having three children has changed her appearance. "To this day my arms, shoulders, breasts, and thighs are fuller," she says. "I have a little mommy pouch, and I’m in no rush to get rid of it. I think it’s real. Whenever I’m ready to get a six-pack, I will go into beast zone and work my ass off until I have it. But right now, my little FUPA and I feel like we are meant to be."
For a Vogue issue so historic, Beyoncé spreading a message of self love feels so right.
Refinery29 has reached out to Sir John and Neal Farinah, and will update this story when we hear back.