Two issues into his editorship and British Vogue chief Edward Enninful has already raised eyebrows over his third cover.
Promising to bring more diversity to the tome than his predecessor, Alexandra Shulman, Enninful, who is black, won praise for putting model and activist Adwoa Aboah on the cover of the December issue, his first in the editor’s chair.
Introducing the Hollywood Special February 2018 issue of #NewVogue starring @MargotRobbie and Nicole Kidman, photographed by Juergen Teller and styled by @edward_enninful with story by Lynn Hirschberg. Robbie wears @LouisVuitton and Kidman @Dior, both wear @lacrasiagloves. On newsstands January 5
A post shared by British Vogue (@britishvogue) on Jan 3, 2018 at 10:01am PST
But preview photos of the February issue, which goes on sale on Friday, have led to comments on social media that the magazine had already dropped the ball on diversity.
Starring Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie, the photo is accompanied by the coverline, “Hollywood’s new era”, and lists underneath the names of four other actresses – Emma Stone, Gal Gadot, Saoirse Ronan and Hong Chau.
Despite the inclusion of Gadot, who is Israeli, and Chau, who was born in Thailand, the comments on Instagram were less than complimentary.
“Celebs once again, not surprising, I thought the new British Vogue team wanted to focus more on real models, what a big disappointment,” wrote @fashionruntheuniverse.
“Everyone was hating on Alexandra [Shulman] for the lack of diversity, where’s the diversity after she left, I don’t see it,” wrote @llinalluna.
On Twitter, the reaction was similarly downbeat.
Guys, what is going on with British Vogue? We were off to a great start and then the new year started off with Taylor and now Margot and Nicole? Is this #NewVogue or just the #OldVogue with a new EIC?
— Tim Fitzgerald (@tim__fitzgerald) January 3, 2018
British Vogue: “Why we need to talk about race” Also British Vogue: *Features two white actresses on the cover* https://t.co/2gD3DaKzZ1
— kris (@ilovemiuself) January 3, 2018
Others though were happy to at least have some age diversity on the cover.
“Oh yessss I love how they’re starkly different and represent different generations of Hollywood/Fashion A-Listers!” @thevolatilestyle wrote on Instagram.
The negative comments led the online fashion website Fashionista to ask: “What’s up with this British Vogue coverline?”
“Following his excellent December outing was an issue starring Taylor Swift; slightly disappointing for those hoping for less-expected cover stars, but still a coup for Enninful, who landed the elusive Swift’s first Reputation-era fashion spread.
British Vogue editor Edward Enninful with Naomi Campbell. Photo: PA
“The February issue, however, is proving to be a major letdown … for the seeming return of the mostly-white vision of Vogue that had reigned for decades … Making matters worse is this coverline: ‘Why we need to talk about race.'”
Other fashion commentators have jumped on the matter, including Refinery29’s Connie Wang, who tweeted: “The need is very much there!”
The reaction to the British Vogue cover follows a similar cover at the Los Angeles Times about the upcoming awards season that featured an all-white ensemble of Hollywood actresses with the headline “A shift in focus”.