Vogue‘s February 2021 cover featuring vice president elect Kamala Harris was leaked on Sunday (January 10, 2020) and the firestorm started shortly thereafter. In the image Harris wears a black suit paired with the Converse Chuck 70 sneakers she became known for wearing on the campaign trail.
She stands in front of a pink curtain casually draped against a green wall, representing the colors of her Howard University sorority Alpha Kappa Alpha. Push back was immediate on social media where the image was described as looking overly casual, as thought Harris was captured during a candid moment prior to the formal shoot.
While Mitchell is known for taking a more relaxed approach to portraits, according to New York magazine editor Yashir Ali, Harris’ team wasn’t happy with the selection of the image for the cover of the print magazine.
On Twitter, Ali wrote (below), “In the cover that they expected, Vice President-elect Harris was wearing a powder blue suit. That was the cover that the Vice President-elect’s team and the Vogue team, including Anna Wintour, mutually agreed upon…which is standard for fashion magazines.”
Harris’ team anticipated the powder blue suit image would be used for print images, however Vogue used it for the digital issue. Ali explained, “I’m told this cover on the left will be the digital cover, but the much maligned cover on the right has already gone to print and will be the cover available for sale and sent to subscribers.”
In an official statement, Harris’ team pushed back on Ali’s version of events. The statement reads, “The team at Vogue loved the images Tyler Mitchell shot and felt the more informal image captured Vice President-elect Harris’s authentic, approachable nature which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden/Harris administration.”
Meanwhile according to the NY Times, Ali’s version of events isn’t exactly correct. According to the publications sources, “Both scenarios had been agreed on in advance, from clothes to backdrops. However, while the portrait had been deemed the ‘cover try’ (magazine-speak for the intended, but not definite, cover) and the standing shot conceived as the inside photograph, Vogue had not granted any kind of contractual cover approval rights to Ms. Harris. That meant Ms. Harris’s team had not seen the final choice, which was left to Vogue.”
4. Here is the Vogue cover Kamala Harris’ team thought would be released.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) January 10, 2021
I’m told this cover on the left will be the digital cover, but the much maligned cover on the right has already gone to print and will be the cover available for sale and sent to subscribers. pic.twitter.com/5eWjPMTbdP