Everyone can relate to sending a risky text. The drama of it all—the quickening heartbeat, and tapping of fingers, all to reveal a daring thought or secret emotion… Something like, “hey, I like you,” or a ‘no thank you, it’s best we don’t see each other again…”
I imagine that shaky, nervous energy as her royal highness Meghan Markle, who, 9 months ago, pitched herself as guest editor of the September issue to Edward Enninful of British Vogue. Over text.
This was risky for a number of reasons. One, the September issue is by far the most important of the year (perhaps you recall the drama-filled 2009 documentary, The September Issue?), making it a hot commodity among readers and industry professionals alike. Two, Markle is often torn apart in the press for her daring decisions as Duchess of Sussex—imagine what the royals, press, and public would think? Third, at the time she was pregnant and on maternity leave. All of these factors making backlash from press inevitable.
Knowing very well that her progressive vision would make many declare her, yet again, “out-of-line,” she sent that text. And less than a minute later, Editor-in-Chief Edward Enninful confirmed with an abounding “yes!” and thus, the British September issue was born. After many lengthy discussions with Enninful, Markle established her presence within the issue as far beyond a glamorous headshot and breezy interview. Her vision: to showcase the most inspiring women in her life.
Months of decisions would eventually push forward an authentic, inspiring issue of Vogue—two adjectives not often used to describe pages in a glossy magazine. This has been one of Enninful’s objectives since taking the helm of the publication about a year ago. Pulling aboard Markle was a wise decision, as she has routinely used her platform of power for good.
The issue was full of powerful women, including 15 different faces on the cover, plus a reflective window in the middle for the reader. Inside, Markle profiled none other than Michelle Obama, while her husband, Prince Harry, interviewed none other than wildlife advocate and anthropologist, Jane Goodall.
Sustainability and climate change was another main focus for the issue, topics still somehow taboo in the fashion landscape. Only recently did American Vogue admit to slipping on the topic of sustainability this past decade.
It’s rare in fashion to see a brand or publication so proudly taking a stand, even when it’s one as safe as saying, your face could be on the cover of this magazine, too. Some labels are afraid to make polarizing decisions, while others find cash cows in inclusive marketing strategies.
Meanwhile, Markle’s involvement in positive publication practices are a swift kick to the gossip columns and blogs that lean towards sexist coverage of the duchess. Instead, she turned her attention to “the power of the collective,” proving how strong women work better together.
In trying times, through fashion, writing or otherwise, making sense of this mess we call a planet has time and time again proved to be a challenge that feels too big to overcome. It’s refreshing to see a leader put more than a publicity smile onto a project, and even further, dedicate months into a project of good.
Even as a fashion student and writer, it’s been months since I’ve pulled an issue off the stands for more than 30 seconds. Nowadays, it’s hard to find fashion publications that don’t make me feel like I’m not pretty enough, fashionable enough— or en vogue enough. It’s difficult to justify a purchase that doesn’t make sense ethically or sustainably.
It takes more than a good cover shot to inspire a buy. Meghan Markle proved this September that what’s on the inside is what counts the most.