The cover for this year's Vogue September issue isn't like anything we've seen in, well, 25 years. The women's fashion magazine has put a model of color on the highly sought-after real estate for the first time in a quarter of a century.
Joan Smalls, of Puerto Rican decent, shares the front page with fellow models Cara Delevingne and Karlie Kloss. Smalls has appeared in campaigns for Gucci, Givenchy, and Chanel, as well as magazines like Harper's Bazaar, Elle, and W Magazine. She has also walked for Alexander Wang, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and more. Let's not forget her cameo in Beyoncé's "Yonce" video alongside Chanel Iman and Jourdan Dunn.
The only other women of color to grace the covers of Vogue's September issues were Naomi Campbell in 1989 and Halle Berry in 2010, with Campbell being the only model. Liya Kebede appeared in the September 2004 issue, though only featured in the fold-out pages of the trifold cover that had nine other models.
Models of color, including Tyra Banks, Campbell, Iman, and Beverly Johnson, the first black model to cover Vogue, have expressed disappointment in the lack of diversity in the fashion industry. Most recently, Johnson, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of her Vogue cover, told Women's Wear Daily that there isn't enough women of color working in fashion and walking at runway shows. "Sometimes we live in this very elitist bubble called the fashion industry," she told the publication, adding that "we have become really oblivious to what's going on in the world."
While Smalls' appearance on this year's September issue doesn't erase the fact that women of color barely have a presence in the fashion industry, it is a step in the right direction. Let's hope this isn't a one-off decision.