Vogue dropped their preview of the always anticipated September issue. Within in minutes, Social media was abuzz and more loudly than normal. The proverbial “Queen Bey” sat upon the throne of the most coveted fashion tome in history. Instead of the standard high gloss, highly-edited shots of couture and unimaginable ready-to-wear, Beyoncé settles for a staunch white Gucci dress, Lynn Ban and RebelRebel floral head piece. Her make-up is plain. Her hair was braided underneath the splendor of florals that rest upon her golden tresses. Captured by the first black photographer for a Vogue cover (Tyler Williams), Beyoncé looks ethereal. She is essentially stripped of everything that makes her “Beyoncé The Entertainer;” the hair, the leotards, the make-up. For all the things that Vogue is (particularly for the September issue), Queen Bey has turned a blind eye to those things for the moment and this is important….
On the other perfectly manicured hand is Robyn Rihanna Fenty. It goes without saying that Rihanna (the singer, the brand, the woman), is the undisputed fashion and style heavyweight. Whatever she touches is gold. Whether she had your hair in a bob during her “Umbrella” days or fire engine red during her “Loud” phase, Rihanna is that GIRL. With being “that girl,” it should come as no surprise Rihanna graces the cover of British Vogue’s September issue; she does not disappoint.
Wearing a mix of Prada, Savage x Fenty and floral headpieces by Azuma Makoto, Rihanna shines. To quote the Edward Enninful (Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue and also a legendary fashion god),
“No matter how haute the styling goes, or experimental the mood, you never lose her in the imagery.” Rihanna’s cover is true to her; avant-garde. Brazen even but isn’t that what we’ve come to expect of Rihanna? Isn’t that what we expect from much lauded “Big Fashion Issue?”
I’ve been doing this for quite some time about 10 years to be exact and much like Miranda Priestly, as of late, I’ve become uninspired.
The world around us is suffering through a period of “excess.” You want longer hair? Buy it by the bundle. Bigger ass? Don’t worry, there’s a “doctor” on Sistrunk that’ll pump you up. You can cover your misery with your make-up; a little make-up and a little paint will make you look like what you ain’t. This is a world we live in; a world of instant satisfaction. This world of faux luxury and instant opulence has taken away the art of fashion. From Cristóbal Balenciaga down to Yves Saint Laurent, designers were lauded for their individualism and creativity…praised for pushing their creative limits to their peak. For crying out loud, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel had a public disdain for each other’s designs. Neither one thought the other was creative enough but acknowledged that their styles were their own. Chanel, classic and consider modern now, had its followers but during that time Schiaparelli was considered the more visionary and effective at celebrating the individualism of customers.
Comparisons of two visions, both different in nature but universally looking to capitalize off the personal taste of consumers is dangerous all in its own. It sets us up for the mundane. Fashion is more than the clothes and the labels. Fashion and clothing evokes a whole mood. Which brings me back to Beyoncé’s cover….
Beyoncé—Instead of your typical glossy, haute couture chic street style that’s running amuck these days, she’s giving you something softer, something a bit more grounded in reality. The Afrocentric vibes are beating loudly. I see acknowledgments to the Orisha, Osun. There are yellow roses and carnations in headdress, the glittering gold (another favorite of the Orisha)…the sunburst headdress…I could go on. We are witnessing where her artistry has taken her. This isn’t about what Rihanna cover is doing and what Beyoncé’s isn’t. RiRi is going to slay every thing given to her; it is apart of being Rihanna. Fashion is Rihanna. Beyoncé isn’t a fashion “it girl.” This issue isn’t about how good Yoncé looks in Saint Laurent.
In the accompanying article, the Queen speaks to empowerment through each image. Whether it be about her body image, her pregnancy or heritage. What is is important to remember about this cover (Rihanna’s as well because she is the first black woman to cover the September issue of British Vogue), the Big Fashion Issue is usually the best selling and most coveted magazine of the year.
Combined with her being shot by Vogue’s first black cover photographer in its 126 year history…
This is a statement of her blackness on one of the most legendary magazines in the world. One of the most elitist magazines in the world.
This is deliberate…this is Beyoncé.