Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is waging what is likely the first public battle of her tenure — and it’s against Vogue Magazine.
According to The New York Times, Harris and her team are at odds with the high-fashion magazine’s editorial team over their decision to select a casual photo of the vice president-elect for their next magazine cover instead of a more formal photo that they feel casts Harris in a better, more professional light.
“February’s issue features Ms. Harris in a dark jacket by Donald Deal, skinny pants, Converse and her trademark pearls. She stands against a leaf green backdrop bisected by a spill of pink curtain, colors meant to evoke her Howard University sorority, caught in what seems like mid-laugh, hands clasped together at her waist,” The New York Times reports.
She’s also wearing a pair of Converse sneakers and appears to be caught off guard by the camera — two features Harris’s team say undermine the authority of her new position and may actually expose Vogue’s internalized prejudices.
Social media critics, who slammed the photo, called it “disrespectful.”
“Though Gabriella Karefa-Johnson receives credit as the sittings editor, a.k.a. the fashion editor in charge, Ms. Harris chose and wore her own clothes. The selected photo is determinedly unfancy. Kind of messy. The lighting is unflattering. The effect is pretty un-Vogue. ‘Disrespectful’ was the word used most often on social media,” the NYT notes.
Investigative reporter Yashar Ali added that Harris’s team felt misled by the choice, and that they believed a different photo, with Harris facing forward, dressed sharply in a Michael Kors powder-blue tailored suit was going to be the cover shot.
“[A]ccording to a source familiar with the publication plans, this is not the cover that the Vice President-elect’s team expected,” he said on social media. “n the cover that they expected, Vice President-elect Harris was wearing a powder blue suit. That was the cover that the Vice President-elect’s team and the Vogue team, including Anna Wintour, mutually agreed upon…which is standard for fashion magazines.”
“Several news outlets, including The Associated Press and CNN, reported that Harris’s team felt ‘blindsided’ by Vogue’s selection and was unaware that the magazine switched out the cover photo from what the team originally agreed on,” left-leaning outlet Vox added. “Vogue’s intentions with its cover, as clarified in a public relations statement, were to highlight the vice president-elect’s ‘authentic, approachable nature.'”
After the outcry, Vogue agreed to swap the photos — but only for the magazine’s the digital version.
4. Here is the Vogue cover Kamala Harris’ team thought would be released.
I’m told this cover on the left will be the digital cover, but the much maligned cover on the right has already gone to print and will be the cover available for sale and sent to subscribers. pic.twitter.com/5eWjPMTbdP
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 10, 2021
The New York Times reports, though, that Vogue believes it was in the right to select the photo they wanted. “Vogue had not granted any kind of contractual cover approval rights to Ms. Harris,” they said. “That meant Ms. Harris’s team had not seen the final choice, which was left to Vogue, and had not known the magazine had decided to swap the photos.”
Given that the controversy involved progressive social media, the issue eventually became Vogue’s “racist” history.
“For decades, the magazine has excluded and underpaid Black talent, and published racially insensitive images and stories. This casual image of the woman who will be America’s first woman vice president seems to add to the narrative of Vogue’s lack of respect for women of color, even one who has risen higher in the American power structure than any other woman in US history,” Vox notes. “There was considerable labor and forethought put into crafting the vice president-elect’s cover shoot, but the final product — through Vogue’s traditional editorial process — appeared perfunctory.”