Vogue will publish a new limited edition of its latest issue featuring a different photo of Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris after the original cover image sparked controversy, the magazine has announced.
Critics slammed the photo that graced the hard copy of the February issue, saying it was poorly composed and diminished Harris’s achievements as the first Black woman to be elected vice president.
Social media users criticised the lighting of the photo — in which Harris wears a blazer, jeans and sneakers — and also questioned whether the magazine had lightened her skin.
Following the backlash, Vogue announced it would release some copies with a more formal portrait of Harris wearing a light blue Michael Kors pantsuit. That image had been used for the digital cover.
“In recognition of the enormous interest in the digital cover, and in celebration of this historic moment, we will be publishing a limited number of special edition inaugural issues,” a spokesperson for Vogue said.
Editor Anna Wintour was forced to defend the original image after it circulated online earlier this month, insisting it was not the magazine’s intention to “diminish” Harris’s “incredible” election victory.
“When the two images arrived at Vogue, all of us felt very, very strongly that the less formal portrait of the Vice President-elect really reflected the moment that we were living in which we are all in the midst — as we still are — of the most appalling pandemic that is taking lives by the minute,” Wintour had said in a statement to the New York Times.
“And we felt to reflect this tragic moment in global history, a much less formal picture, something that was very, very accessible and approachable and real, really reflected the hallmark of the Biden-Harris campaign and everything that they are trying to, and I’m sure will achieve,” she added.
Both photos were taken by American photographer Tyler Mitchell, who in 2018 became the first Black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover with his portraits of music icon Beyonce.
Harris, 56, did not publicly react but sources close to her told US media that she was surprised by the choice of the more relaxed photo.
The controversy was the latest to hit Wintour, who found herself under pressure during the massive Black Lives Matter protests that swept the US last summer.
She apologised for not making enough room for Black stylists and photographers in the magazine.
Wintour added that she also took “full responsibility” for “publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant.”
Meanwhile, Harris is all set to become the first Black person, the first woman, and the first South Asian to serve as vice president after she is sworn in by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Latina member.
She and Joe Biden will take their oaths in a ceremony that will take place in front of a heavily fortified Capitol, where a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building two weeks ago, enraged by his false claims that November’s election was stolen with millions of fraudulent votes.