Rihanna is the first black woman to cover British Vogue’s September issue. I just spent way too many minutes attempting to disprove that fact. Even though I read about Rihanna being The First from multiple reputable outlets, it was still a stat I couldn’t wrap my head around. In the 102 years that British Vogue has existed, they never thought to put a black woman on the most prestigious cover of the year? Seriously, not a single black woman has ever been a September issue cover girl? Not even NAOMI CAMPBELL?
It’s true and I don’t know why I’m still so surprised when I read the words “first black ___ to ___.” I felt the same way when it was leaked that Beyoncé chose the first black photographer to shoot her cover for American Vogue. As Lainey wrote yesterday, Beyoncé shows her work by uplifting black creatives to places where they have, until now, been told they don’t belong. British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful has done the same thing here with Rihanna.
This is Edward’s first September issue for British Vogue. In his words, “I always knew it had to be Rihanna”. British Vogue has a black EIC and their September issue cover features a black woman. See what happens when opportunities are given to black people at the executive level? They will reach back and bring with them others who should have been given those same opportunities years ago. The fact that a white editor didn’t think to put RIHANNA on a September issue until now is further proof of the blindspots that exist even at the highest echelons of fashion. Beyoncé showed Vogue its ass and Edward has done the same. Black people are taking over Vogue! YES.
Now that we’ve established the importance of Rihanna’s mere presence on the cover of British Vogue, let’s talk about her eyebrows.
I can’t stop staring.
Rihanna’s thin eyebrows were Edward’s idea – he also styled the shoot – and they were a brilliant idea because everyone is losing their sh-t over the possibility that the thin eyebrows of the 90s will be making a comeback. They are a conversation starter. They are a statement. They are exceptional. I still don’t think they are making a comeback… yet. This is Rihanna on the cover of Vogue. It’s meant to be high-fashion and risqué.
Let’s consider some of the other images in the shoot.
Are we all going to start wearing elaborate floral headgear to the grocery store? No. Rihanna’s thin eyebrows may be a nod to the South African women who have been reviving the 90s long before Rihanna’s cover or they’re just a slow step in the direction of toning down the heavy, thick eyebrow trend of late. These eyebrows are the anti-Kardashian brows. Brooke Shields is SHOOK. Trends trickle down from the pages of Vogue gradually. There’s no need to take a razor to your eyebrows… yet. Or ever. Even if thin eyebrows come back, I’m going to take a hard pass.
Lingering questions: did Rihanna actually shave her brows? Is this some makeup wizardry I don’t understand? Rihanna used to have some of the best brows in the game. Long live Rihanna’s eyebrows! If this is the aesthetic of Rihanna’s new album cycle (which is allegedly coming in hot), I am not ready.
If there was any question as to whether Rihanna can pull ANYTHING off, I think that’s been answered. Here’s more from Edward Enninful on why he put Rihanna on his most important cover of the year:
“I always knew it had to be Rihanna. A fearless music-industry icon and businesswoman, when it comes to that potent mix of fashion and celebrity, nobody does it quite like her. No matter how haute the styling goes, or experimental the mood, you never lose her in the imagery. She is always Rihanna.”
Rihanna and Beyoncé are Vogue’s September cover girls, with black creatives killing it behind the scenes. What a time. Click here for more on Rihanna in British Vogue.