Two of the world's biggest models of the moment have just been unveiled as separate cover stars on the latest issue of British Vogue. And naturally, the Internet has something to say. For his fourth issue, editor-in-chief Edward Enninful tapped sisters Bella and Gigi Hadid to appear on dual covers of the magazine. Inside the glossy, the pair unite in a portrait shot by photographer Steven Meisel.
For their solo British Vogue cover shots, stylist Joe McKenna draped the Hadids in gold chainmail Versace gowns — instantly recognizable from the seminal spring 2018 show, where original supermodels Naomi Campbell, Carla Bruni, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, and Claudia Schiffer reunited on the catwalk to tribute Gianni Versace. Following the January issue featuring Taylor Swift and the February cover fronted by Australian actresses Margot Robbie and Nicole Kidman (in conjunction with W), the March edition reverts to supermodel cover stars for the Spring Fashion issue.
With four covers now under his belt, Enninful's revolutionary debut featuring model Adwoa Aboah and the #NewVogue hashtag (already) feels like a thing of the past. Despite the backlash on his waning commitment to racial inclusivity that followed the inclusivity feat, induced by a particularly glaring exclusion of women of color from the #NewVogue covers, British Vogue is the subject of a different kind of uproar this month. Many users on Twitter are taking issue with the photos of the Hadid sisters due to the sexually explicit nature of the images that see them posing intimately in the nude.
While the photo is no doubt a stunning, stripped down portrayal of a duo we're accustomed to seeing so done up, the choice to forego fashion credits altogether is a peculiar one, especially for an issue that's supposed to be about, well, clothes. Upon debuting the images on his Twitter account, Enninful's followers had a mouthful for the editor. Similar kickback ensued when, just recently, the Kardashian family came under fire for posing semi-nude together for their Calvin Klein campaign.
Must you fetishise them? Talented women. No need to be naked to pique our interest.— Sarah Southern (@sarahsouthern) January 30, 2018
Everyone is so right on both counts. First, I don't like this trend of models posing naked when it is supposed to be about fashion, i.e. clothing! Secondly it is definitely inappropriate to have sisters posing naked together.— Jacob Dunbar (@Fashiomista2017) January 30, 2018
Bella is unrecognisable. “New Vogue” same old beauty standards.— Natalie B (@hardtochase) January 30, 2018
I really thought you would do better with this magazine. Guess not.— Congrats Dr. Priyanka Chopra (@Nitu_23) January 30, 2018
The sexualization of women, family members or not, is not a topic fashion has historically shied away from. In fact, especially in the case of the Jenners and Hadids, it'd seem completely intentional when taking into consideration previous shoots with both sister duos (see: that Balmain campaign, that V magazine spread) that spark the same bewilderment. But such is an industry whose foundation was built on selling sex and desire via clothes, and anyone with a baseline knowledge of editorials and campaigns most likely won't be shocked by this.
After all, models pose nude — often together — all the time. And considering the fact that the imagery isn't explicitly sexual, a deduction as such shouldn't be blamed on the sisters or anyone on the British Vogue staff, especially Enninful, who's known for his image-making excellence. When flipping through the issue next month, let's aim to separate the mind from the gutter in the name of art. Because really, the shoot is accomplishing exactly what most art aims to: to be provocative, and to ignite conversation.
The March issue of British Vogue goes on sale on February 2.
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