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Knowles-Lawson praised British Vogue's diverse September cover, but still wants to see a change from American Vogue

By Kaitlyn Frey
August 05, 2020 11:53 AM
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Tina Knowles-Lawson wants to see more diversity behind-the-scenes at Vogue photo shoots.

Beyoncé and Solange Knowles' mother, 66, shared a photo of British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful praising him for featuring nine Black activists on the September cover. The powerful black-and-white portraits were also all shot by four Black photographers.

"Kudos to this wonderful Man Mr. Edward Enningful !! Editor of “British Vogue “ for boldly putting our beautiful Activists on the cover !!!" Knowles-Lawson wrote on Instagram.

Then she used her platform to critique American Vogue, led by editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, urging the fashion glossy to hire more Black creatives too. "When will American Vogue step up and hire more Black Photographers for cover shoots? We’re waiting....... @edward_enningful," Knowles-Lawson said.

In early June in the wake of George Floyd's death, Wintour sent an internal memo to Vogue staffers admitting to “hurtful and intolerant” creative decisions and taking full responsibility for the racial inequality at the magazine.

Tina Knowles-Lawson
Tina Knowles-Lawson
| Credit: Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

“I want to say this especially to the Black members of our team — I can only imagine what these days have been like,” Wintour wrote in the email sent on June 4. “But I also know that the hurt, and violence, and injustice we’re seeing and talking about have been around for a long time. Recognizing it and doing something about it is overdue.”

She continued: “I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators. We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes.”

Anna Wintour
Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty

The famed fashion editor went on to admit that "it can’t be easy to be a Black employee at Vogue" and that "there are too few of you." Wintour continued: "I know that it is not enough to say we will do better, but we will — and please know that I value your voices and responses as we move forward. I am listening and would like to hear your feedback and your advice if you would like to share either."

However, former Vogue editor-at-large André Leon Talley, 71, who had a notorious falling out with Wintour ending their 30-year friendship, thought her apology wasn't enough.

"The statement came out of a world of white privilege," he said on an episode of comedian Sandra Bernhard's SiriusXM’s Radio Andy show. "I want to say one thing: Dame Anna Wintour is a colonial broad. She’s a colonial Dame…she’s part of an environment of colonialism. She is entitled and I do not think she will ever let anything get in the way of her white privilege."

PEOPLE had reached out to both Vogue and Talley for comment at the time.

andre leon talley and anna wintour
Credit: Eugene Gologursky/WireImage

In Talley's newly-released memoir, The Chiffon Trenches, the editor references Beyoncé's historic September 2018 Vogue cover, for which the star was given full editorial control over her photographs and interview. At the time, Talley wrote an op-ed for Washington Post about the "historic blackness" of Beyoncé's cover shoot, captured by Black photographer Tyler Mitchell. While Vogue's publisher praised his op-ed, Talley claims none of the top editors at Vogue reached out to him about the piece.

"Not one of those editors wrote me about the piece. Not one quick email from Anna Wintour," he wrote. "Editors I've worked with for decades didn’t understand the immense importance of this occasion simply because they are not capable of understanding. None of my contemporaries have seen the world through black eyes."