British Vogue is facing backlash following the reveal of its February 2022 cover.
The cover features nine models Adut Akech, Amar Akway, Majesty Amare, Akon Changkou, Maty Fall, Janet Jumbo, Abény Nhial, Nyagua Ruea, and Anok Yai—and while it’s supposed to be a pioneering moment as it centers African beauty on a large scale, it seems that the models’ skin tones were edited to look darker, among other controversial artistic liberties that were taken.
Some Twitter users critiqued the models’ appearances, who are either Ethiopian, Nigerian, Rwandan, Senegalese, and South Sudanese. “This cover is weird. The lighting is off. The backdrop is off. The various skin tones and highlights are missing. And the African models are all in European styled wigs. Huh? @BritishVogue definitely needs to hire Black women photographers,” user @NyxGreenfyre wrote.
These models have walked the runway for a number of huge brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga, with 22-year-old Akech “arguably the most successful African model working today,” according to Vogue.
In addition to the editing and poor lighting, others pointed out additional problems, like the models’ expressions, which have “an absence of joy,” and their clothing, which was all black.
But it seems like Vogue Editor-In-Chief Edward Enniful, who also styled the photos, thought what the magazine did was capture the current “wave” of where fashion is headed. “I saw all these incredible models from across Africa who were just so vivacious and smart,” he told Vogue about the inspiration behind the cover.
“These girls are redefining what it is to be a fashion model,” he continued. “You know, fashion tends to follow waves. We’ve had the Brazilian wave. We had the Dutch wave, the Russian wave, the Eastern European wave… And while, in the last decade, the Black model has come to prominence, I love that we are finally giving more space to African beauty.”