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Kamala Harris’ team says it was blindsided by Vogue cover

The February cover of Vogue featuring Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
The February cover of Vogue featuring Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
(Vogue)

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris agreed to be featured in the February issue of Vogue magazine, but her team says the cover photo of the country’s soon-to-be No. 2 leader isn’t what both sides had agreed on.

Instead of the powder-blue power suit Harris wore for her cover shoot, the first African American woman to be elected vice president is instead seen in more casual attire and wearing Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers, which she sometimes wore on the campaign trail. That photo was initially supposed to run inside the magazine.

Harris’ team was unaware that the cover photo had been switched until images leaked late Saturday, according to a person involved in the negotiations over how Harris would be featured on the cover. Harris’ office declined comment, and the person spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity.

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Vogue’s choice of photo generated outrage on social media from people who criticized it as disrespectful, accused the magazine of washing out Harris’ skin tone or took issue with the lighting, backdrop and wardrobe direction.

In a statement, Vogue said it went with the more informal image of Harris for the cover because the photo captured her “authentic, approachable nature, which we feel is one of the hallmarks of the Biden-Harris administration.”

But the magazine said it released both images as digital magazine covers to “respond to the seriousness of this moment in history, and the role she has to play leading our country forward.”

Converse high-top sneakers worn by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at a campaign event in October
Converse high-top sneakers worn by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at a campaign event in October in Miami.
(Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press)
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Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, posed in the light-blue suit in front of a gold backdrop for the magazine’s cover. She also posed more casually dressed in slacks, a blazer and sneakers in front of a pink and green background for photos that were planned for inside the magazine, the person said. Pink and green are the colors of Harris’ college sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha.

Vogue has released both images online, but the photo of a sneaker-clad Harris is the one that will grace the cover of the fashion bible’s print edition.

The person with knowledge of the negotiations said Harris’ team has expressed to Vogue its disappointment over the magazine’s decision.

Harris is set to be sworn in as vice president Jan. 20.


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