The New York Times got a sneak preview of Italian Vogue’s all-black issue, and now we can resolve the pressing Who’s the Cover Girl issue: As you see, Liya Kebede got the top spot on the fold-out cover followed by Sessilee Lopez, Jourdan Dunn, and Naomi Campbell. So much for months of speculation on that one! Cathy Horyn spoke to Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani and photographer Steven Meisel about the project; Sozzani was inspired by Barack Obama’s campaign and the lack of diversity on the runways, while Meisel has been frustrated by the industry’s rejection of black models for quite some time:
“I thought, it’s ridiculous, this discrimination,” said Mr. Meisel, speaking by phone from his home in Los Angeles. “It’s so crazy to live in such a narrow, narrow place. Age, weight, sexuality, race — every kind of prejudice.”
…Mr. Meisel has his own theories about why black models, save for the token few, have disappeared from runways. “Perhaps the designers, perhaps the magazine editors,” he said. “They are the powerful people. And the advertisers. I have asked my advertising clients so many times, ‘Can we use a black girl?’ They say no.” The concern is that consumers will resist the product, he said. “It all comes down to money.”
Meisel’s pictures span 100 pages in the issue, hitting European stands in one week and American stands soon after. He cast many older models, like Veronica Webb, Campbell, and Tyra Banks. Speaking of Lady Banks, he also cast Toccara Jones, the plus-size model from America’s Next Top Model, Cycle 3. “I wanted to say something about weight, and I’m never allowed to do that,” he told Horyn. “I met Toccara and thought, she’s beautiful. What’s the deal with her? She’s great and she’s sexy.” So we suppose that makes one ANTM contestant to actually hit the “top” part of the deal!
For more photos from the issue, we highly recommend you check out the New York Times’ slideshow.