Anna Wintour says Vogue has 'heard and understood' the backlash to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' February cover photo
Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is responding to critics who say that the Vogue cover didn’t do Vice President-elect Kamala Harris “justice.” Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Courtesy of Vogue
  • Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour is responding to criticism of the photo of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris used in the magazine's print cover. 

  • On Tuesday, Wintour told The New York Times tech journalist Kara Swisher that "we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover."

  • Wintour, who has repeatedly come under fire in recent months for Vogue's diversity issues, had previously called the cover "so joyful and optimistic."

  • A representative for Vogue told Insider that the editors "felt the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris's authentic, approachable nature."

  • A spokesperson for Harris didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

After days of backlash, Anna Wintour has responded to criticism of Vogue magazine's February cover of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

"It was absolutely not our intention to in any way diminish the importance of the Vice President-elect's incredible victory," Wintour told The New York Times' Kara Swisher on Tuesday.

The magazine's print and digital covers were released on social media over the weekend. As Insider reporter Darcy Schild previously wrote, some thought the print cover, which features Harris in front of a pink and green background, didn't "do her justice."

They specifically took issue with the lighting and background. 

Anna Wintour says Vogue has 'heard and understood' the backlash to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' February cover photo
Vogue’s February 2021 print cover, featuring Harris. Courtesy of Vogue/Tyler Mitchell

"Obviously, we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover," Wintour told the Times.

"We want nothing but to celebrate Vice President-elect Harris's amazing victory and the important moment this is in America's history, and particularly for women of color, all over the world," she continued.

Before the backlash, Wintour had originally told Swisher that she found the cover "charming and so relaxed."

Swisher taped her conversation with Wintour for The New York Times podcast "Sway" prior to the public release of the two covers and noted in the released podcast episode that she'd followed up with the top Vogue editor for further comments after the controversy overtook social media.

"As I listen to the President-elect and the Vice President-elect talk about empathy, and unity, and bringing people together, to me, this cover symbolizes that," Wintour told Swisher prior to the covers' release. "I feel it's a very welcoming image."

She also called the cover "so joyful and optimistic."

Harris was photographed by Tyler Mitchell, who became the first Black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover in 2018 when he photographed Beyoncé for the magazine.

"The team at Vogue loved the images Tyler Mitchell shot and felt the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris's authentic, approachable nature – which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration," a Vogue spokesperson told Insider on Tuesday.

"To respond to the seriousness of this moment in history, and the role she has to play leading our country forward, we're celebrating both images of her as covers digitally," the representative added.

Journalist Yashar Ali wrote on Twitter that, "according to a source familiar with the publication plans," the print cover "is not the cover that the Vice President-elect's team expected" to be released.

Representatives for Harris did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment. 

Harris' print cover got mixed reviews

For the print cover, Harris wears a white top and black pants paired with a black blazer and her signature Converse sneakers. She stands in front of a pink and green background, which is a nod to her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University, according to a tag on the photo posted on the official Vogue Instagram page. 

Read more: Former Black staffers call for Anna Wintour to surrender control of Vogue, citing the magazine's racist work environment

In a second digital cover released by Vogue, Harris wears a powder-blue Michael Kors jumpsuit as she stands in front of a golden background. 

Anna Wintour says Vogue has 'heard and understood' the backlash to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' February cover photo
The second Vogue cover featuring Harris. Courtesy of Vogue/Tyler Mitchell

Some Twitter users said "the second cover is way better."

—Tracie Hunte (@TracieHunte) January 10, 2021

But others thought the print cover was "brilliant."

—?.?.??? (@C_R_L_E_E) January 10, 2021

 

In the same interview, Wintour also talked about Vogue's ongoing diversity problems

Wintour has repeatedly come under fire in recent months for the lack of diversity at Vogue. In October, Edmund Lee reported for The New York Times that Wintour welcomed "a certain type of employee" – someone, they say, who was thin, white, and from an affluent background. 

On the heels of Black Lives Matter protests last summer, Wintour wrote an email to her staff members in June where she said "it can't be easy to be a Black employee at Vogue, and there are too few of you."

"We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes," the email continued. 

Regarding that email, Wintour told Swisher, "I think it was a statement whereby I was trying to make it very clear in that email, specifically, to Vogue that I was available, that I wanted to listen, that I acknowledged there had been mistakes made in the past and that we wanted to move forward and make sure, as much as we possibly could, that it would not happen again."

As Schild previously wrote, Vogue has received criticism in the past for how they photograph Black women.

In July, fans of Olympic athlete Simone Biles panned the magazine for its photos of Biles, taken by Annie Leibovitz, saying that the lighting was unflattering for Biles' skin tone.

—Nowlen Webb (@NowlenWebb) July 10, 2020

 

  • Read more:

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Kamala Harris' Vogue cover photos include a nod to her sorority and her signature Converse sneakers

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Former Black staffers call for Anna Wintour to surrender control of Vogue, citing the magazine's racist work environment

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