While everyone ponders over Rihanna’s razor thin eyebrows on the September cover of Vogue, the only thought that ran through my mind was “it’s about time”.
Not only does Rihanna appear in stunning photos on the cover of UK Vogue’s September issue, she’s also made history for being the first black woman in the magazine’s history to be featured on the prestigious edition.
In his editor’s letter, Edward Enninful wrote, “I always knew it had to be Rihanna. A fearless music-industry icon and businesswoman, when it comes to that potent mix of fashion and celebrity, nobody does it quite like her.”
The September cover, which is Enninful’s first since taking over as editor in 2017, is always one filled with anticipation as it marks the transition from summer to autumn. September in itself is also regarded as a time for reinvention with a “back-to-school” feel.
When it comes to transformations, Rihanna has more than proved herself worthy of gracing the cover. She’s a fashion chameleon and has regularly made headlines for her adventurous sense of style; from the Met Gala, to the Grammy’s and even carnival, she never fails to turn heads.
What’s more important to acknowledge though is what her cover means in a broader sense.
Vogue has long been a magazine that’s fallen short on reflecting true diversity within the fashion industry and has isolated many different groups and communities of women.
The former editor Alexandra Shulman who spearheaded the publication for 25 years reportedly told the Guardian that she “would sell fewer copies” if she put a lesser-known black face on the cover.
To have Rihanna on the September cover shows a shift in direction and reinforces that women of colour can sell magazines and are formidable figures within fashion.
It also sends a powerful message to industry insiders and consumers where beauty standards are concerned by redefining western beauty ideals, which often dictates that fairer skin is more desirable than darker skin - a consequence of colonialism.
I’m elated to see a face that I resonate with and I’m thrilled to see Enninful breathing new life into an iconic publication that has yet to catch up to where we are in terms of diversity and representation.
By featuring Rihanna, Vogue is moving away from their “exclusive” crowd and opening up to communities who now see themselves and their interests reflected. It’s been a long time coming, but Enninful’s mission that acknowledges all faces within fashion and promotes inclusivity is a trend I hope is here to stay.