The political climate in America is fraught. Suddenly, everything is political in a way that it never was before — especially in fashion. Designers are vocalizing their beliefs through their collections, the decision to dress the First Lady has become more divisive than ever, and Vogue even formally endorsed a candidate for the first time. But the pendulum always swings back in the other direction.
That shift is mirrored in American politics but also surprisingly, American Vogue. After eight years under a black man, U.S. President Barack Obama, America elected Donald Trump — and since he has been in office, the number of hate crimes has risen significantly. Similarly, after creating such a historic moment last September with Beyoncé and Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue magazine cover, Condé Nast's fashion bible put Taylor Swift on the cover of the 2019 September issue.
But Swift's cover may be more political than you would expect. The cover image features Swift, wearing a Louis Vuitton jumpsuit, in a pose not unlike the famous Uncle Sam ‘I Want You’ propaganda poster. Sort-of fitting when you recall that last October, Swift finally broke her silence on political issues with a viral Instagram post and caused a massive spike in U.S. voter registration.
The "Me!" singer went on to endorse Democrats for the Tennessee Legislature and called out the Republican running for Senate, Marsha Blackburn. “She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples,” Swift wrote on Instagram. “She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values.”
Swift tells Vogue that she decided to break her silence to remind American fans you have to register, you can't just "roll up" to the polls and expect to vote. The move resulted in 65,000 new voters registered in the first 24 hours, according to Vote.org. And considering that the singer isn't afraid to speak her mind politically now, the cover could signify more of the same — she "wants you" to take action.
In fact, Swift's cover makes us think of something else: Jennifer Lawerence's September issue two years ago. Many perceived it as an attack on Trump because Lawrence was posing as Lady Liberty. For the record, Lady Liberty is very much pro-immigration, which is in direct opposition of Trump's xenophobic immigration policies like the Muslim ban and his campaign to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The base of the statue includes lines from Emma Lazarus’s 1883 sonnet, titled "The New Colossus": "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." Is Vogue once again employing political imagery with Taylor Swift's photo shoot?
Symbolism aside, not everyone was happy about Swift's cover.
One user pointed out the disconnect between Swift's socially conscious rhetoric and her expensive wares, saying: "Apparently, cognitive dissonance does not exist in the world Vogue magazine inhabits. 'Rights are being stripped from basically everyone who isn’t a straight white cisgender male,' Swift says. Celine coat. Dior shoes."
Another person tweeted: "I don't really want Anna Wintour to retire/leave American Vogue because the lady is simply an icon and beyond that, she knows the business, BUT.... this is a disaster.... a complete, fat, huge one. Is this the September issue of American Vogue? a pity.... almost a disgrace."
Sure her cover may be lacking in imagination, but it is a call to action nonetheless.