The cover of Vogue Italia’s April 2020 edition is blank. Gone is the original cover photograph, which showed a model wearing a blue-checked Louis Vuitton twin suit against a blue backdrop, her gaze earnest, with a hint of defiance. Gone is the cover line, gone is everything but the masthead of the magazine.
The design brings to mind The Beatles’, the band’s 1968 album that came to be known as The White Album, because the cover was a blizzard of white, with nothing but the name of the band embossed in small letters. But here, the minimalism, and the moment it freezes, is enough to take your breath away. At first glance, it projects an infinite sadness: the whiting-out of joy, an epitaph for frivolity. Who can spare a thought for fashion at a time like this, all the more so in poor, beleaguered Italia, where beauty and art have been embedded into the national culture for millennia? But look at it for longer, look through and beyond the emptiness, and a brave new meaning emerges.
“White is rebirth, the sum of all colours, the light after darkness,” reads a note from Emanuele Farneti, the editor-in-chief . “White is the colour of the uniforms worn by those who put their own lives on the line to save ours. It represents space and time to think, as well as to stay silent.”
The origins of Vogue, one of the world’s greatest magazines and the undisputed icon of fashion, date back to New York in 1892. In all that time, there have been pandemics, world wars, a Great Depression, acts of terror, and the building of walls to keep people apart from one another. But also, in all that time, walls have fallen, wars have ended, humans have landed on the moon. This cover looks to the light that beckons beyond the terrible moment.
“Above all,” concludes the editor’s note, “white is not surrender, but a blank sheet waiting to be written, the title page of a new story that is about to begin.”
- Gus is an award-winning journalist, editor, speechwriter and author, with a special interest in social entrepreneurship. This piece first appeared on Gus Facebook page
- Image credit: Brandi Redd / Unsplash