British Vogue’s shots are editorial, not advertising, selling glamorous escapism that answers to no authority, but our idea of glamour has shifted since Evangelista epitomised the supermodel ideal in George Michael’s 1990 music video for Freedom! ’90.
We are moving towards greater inclusivity around size, gender, age and ability in the fashion industry, with runway shows at this year’s Australian Fashion Week reflecting the positive change.
Recognising these changes, the August issue of British Vogue celebrated the LGBTQ+ community, featuring Australian models Jordan Barrett and Aweng Chuol alongside actor Cynthia Erivo on the cover.
For that cover story, Erivo said the most important thing is “giving people the space to show up fully as who they are”. These images felt more like who Evangelista was, rather than who she is today.
Imagine the power, beauty and joy of a cover with Evangelista embracing her perceived flaws. As former Vogue Australia editor Kirstie Clements said following the model’s recent photographs, without scarves and hats, in People, “Evangelista thinks she looks terrible, but in the accompanying photos – which admittedly may have been touched up – she looks like any normal 50-something.”
There is nothing wrong with putting your best face forward for Vogue, but it should still be your face. Many of us cover blemishes with concealer, dye grey hairs, use social media filters and take comfort in shapewear for extra confidence. It’s when we obliterate ourselves to become a different identity, or a past one, that we embrace illusion at the expense of authenticity.
For people experiencing physical change through illness, such as cancer, wigs, make-up and clothing can be tools to bring them joy and aid their mental health, with the assistance of groups such as Look Good Feel Better.
These photos have brought Evangelista some joy and healing. “All my insecurities are taken care of in these pictures, so I got to do what I love to do,” she acknowledges in the interview.
Hopefully, this encouragement enables her to remove the hat, undo the tape and see the beauty in herself, that fans like me will always applaud, and keep her forever in vogue.