What Vogue’s Summer Covers Tell us about Fashion’s Response to COVID-19

Have you checked the newsstands lately to look at the latest fashion magazines? If it’s on store or online, the premier fashion magazine, Vogue has refrained from using any identifier of fashion. There are no models, no glamorous hairdos, statement makeup or a fantasy-like fashion shoot. Nothing that we are accustomed to seeing when we think of a fashion magazine.

It reflects how fashion is the last concern on our minds when we think about loved ones during the COVID-19 epidemic and the BLM movement.

This summer, three countries’ editions of Vogue, the U.S, U.K and Italy have shown their solidarity with the world.

Anna Wintour noted the crisis and how it’s affected us globally in her editorial letter in the June/July 2020 issue of Vogue: “It’s not as if we haven’t gone through tough times in the past, but this one feels different: The crisis is global in scale, and none of us have been left untouched. We’ve all witnessed terrible scenes and felt acutely how the coronavirus has affected our lives, and we are incredibly grateful for those who have selflessly stepped forward to keep our communities safe.“

All of these Vogue covers span different regions of the world but they share the commonality of looking, towards ourselves, our families, the people we love, and thinking of those who are affected during the COVID-19 crisis through photography, painting, and illustration.

The June/July 2020 edition American Vogue, went down a nostalgic route for it’s cover, a big red rose taken from the archives of one the photographer’s master’s and contributing photographer to Vogue Magazine, Irving Penn. Raul Martinez, the head creative of Condé Nast, commented on the single rose as a symbol of “beauty, hope and reawakening.” The photograph was taken between 1967 and 1971 for Penn’s flower portfolio for the magazine. Roses are feminine yet they evoke passion and love. The words in bold “Our Common Thread,” under the strong fashion motif represents the love from everyone in the fashion community to keep moving forward during this hard and uncertain time.

British Vogue went with the bold decision of Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful who commissioned fourteen covers by the U.K’s greatest artists and photographers, Tim Walker, Nadine Ijewere, Nick Knight and Lubaina Himid to name a few for their August 2020 issue. A David Hockney painting of the British countryside with the word “Reset” in bold, the theme featured on all 14 covers. Although the oil painting is Hockney’s interpretation of East Yorkshire in 2006, it makes the case of the positive reflection of COVID-19 on the planet. The global health crisis restored mother nature, like the phenomena of the swans and dolphins on the ports of Venice and peacocks roaming the city streets of Dubai without fear of decrease of human activity.

Enninful added that the Vogue covers originals will have their proceeds up for charity, “I’m pleased to add that later in the year, we plan to hold an auction of original prints of these images, donated by the artists, in aid of COVID-19 relief charities.”

Vogue Italia’s June 2020 cover gave fashion illustrations a comeback by lending their platform to children, all eight covers are drawings drawn by children. It makes us think about the value of family and love during this time. It makes up each one of us see in our everyday life, love fills the way we dress, our manners and the people around us. It makes it a little more special to see a picture of the eyes of love from our youngest and freshest eyes. The eyes of a child are the purest perspective, their minds are developing and they’re expressing the way they see fashion through their hands. It’s sad how they don’t understand fully why the world is shutting down around them, they deserve so much more as society tries to find a cure to the epidemic and racism.

Emanuel Farneti, the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia added the significance of a child’s voice during the epidemic:

“There’s a simple and fundamental reason why this issue of Vogue Italia is dedicated to children, to their world. It’s because we think they are the most overlooked and least obvious victims of the pandemic that is affecting us all. Without even considering the infringement on their right to play and socialize, it is simply incredible and unacceptable that in many countries, Italy included, nobody yet knows if and how schools will reopen in September.”

The fashion magazine relevance gives us something to read and reassure us we are all in this together if we are relaxing or a head full of anxiety as the world feels like it’s falling apart. Vogue makes us all feel a little bit better that we’re sharing the same problems on this planet regardless of the geographic distance. The fashion industry is taking a pause from its ways this summer, it gives them a chance to take the world events day by day as the rest of us. Fashion has hit the reset button.

That’s perfectly okay as we can remain fashionable at home, without the eyes of the public eye or social media tracking our every fashion choice. This is the time to reflect, breathe, and look inwards.

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Freelance Fashion, Lifestyle and Culture Writer. Featured in Mess Magazine, PopSugar, College Magazine and counting. Check out my Instagram @emanalami for more!

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Eman Alami

Eman Alami

Freelance Fashion, Lifestyle and Culture Writer. Featured in Mess Magazine, PopSugar, College Magazine and counting. Check out my Instagram @emanalami for more!

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