Today we’re excited to share a post about the Duchess’s highly anticipated role with the September issue of British Vogue. Details about the project were released over the weekend with additional information and images being revealed today. It turns out that as reported, Meghan guest-edited the issue with editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.
The issue is titled, “Forces for Change” and the cover features photos of fifteen women creating positive change around the world.
The Sussex Royal Instagram account notes that the Duchess “…for the last seven months has worked to create an issue of inclusivity and inspiration, focusing on what connects us rather than what divides us.” From the Duchess, writing in the magazine:
In formulating the content of the Forces for Change issue, I knew that I wanted to create a magazine that would speak not just to where we are, but to where we hope to be.
More from Mr. Enninful, writing about the experience of working with the Duchess:
To have the country’s most influential beacon of change guest edit British Vogue at this time has been an honour, a pleasure and a wonderful surprise,” said Edward Enninful, of co-editing the magazine’s September 2019 issue with HRH The Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan shared that timeline information in the Guest Editor’s Letter she penned for the issue, also noting, “Over a steaming cup of mint tea we teased through how one can shine light in a world filled with seemingly daily darkness. Lofty? Of course. Worth it? Without question.” She also writes about the genesis of the guest editor role, describing the way the topic was raised: “So I asked the question. Actually, I typed and deleted the question several times, until I built up the courage to ask the question in question. ‘Edward…instead of doing the cover, would you be open to me guest-editing your September issue?'”
The Duchess also noted in the letter that she feels confident readers will “…feel my thumbprint on most pages….the overall sentiment I hope you’ll find, however, will be one of positivity, kindness, humour and inclusivity.”
In the letter, Meghan explains that fashion coverage in the issue covers Commonwealth designers as well as ethical and sustainable brands, and refers to a piece with Dr. Jane Goodall, who was interviewed by Prince Harry.
More about the experience of working with Meghan from Mr. Enninful:
“As you will see from her selections throughout this magazine, she is also willing to wade into more complex and nuanced areas, whether they concern female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege. From the very beginning, we talked about the cover – whether she would be on it or not. In the end, she felt that it would be in some ways a “boastful” thing to do for this particular project. She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires.”
As explained above, the Duchess wanted to keep the focus on the “trailblazing female changemakers” featured in the black and white portraits on the cover. The fifteen women were photographed by Peter Lindbergh who shot the photos for the October 2017 Vanity Fair profile piece on Meghan.
The Sussex Royal Instagram post about the issue explains that “For the cover, The Duchess chose a diverse selection of women from all walks of life, each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open-mindedness.” Let’s meet the women featured on the cover, going from left to right.
Adut Akech is a model who was born in South Sudan and raised in Australia. She is a former refugee who now works with the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees. On her Instagram page, she wrote, “The Duchess of Sussex… told me that she finds me and my story so inspiring and those words I will never forget for the rest of my life.”
Gemma Chan is an actress who also works on behalf of the British arm of the Time’s Up campaign, the Justice and Equality Fund. She wrote on her Twitter page, “Thank you @BritishVogue & guest editor HRH The Duchess of Sussex for including me as one of your #ForcesForChange alongside these incredible women.”
Greta Thunberg is a student and at age 16, the youngest woman featured on the cover. The Swedish activist started the School Strike for Climate, a movement advocating immediate action on climate change and inspiring school walkouts around the world. Ms. Thunberg is slated to speak at the UN Climate Action Summit in September in New York.
Jameela Jamil is a British actress describing herself as a “feminist-in-progress” who is also an advocate for body positivity (see her I Weigh Instagram page here). Her reaction to being included on the cover: “Gah. I’m on the COVER of the September Issue of VOGUE! With some of my heroes. Guest edited by a total hero, HRH The Duchess of Sussex…and @edward_enninful created such a beautiful messaging behind this iconic issue. I grew up never seeing Pakistani or Indian girls on the cover of magazines, and this means the world to teenage me.”
We now move to the women in the middle row, from left to right.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author who writes novels, short stories, and non-fiction (see her books here). She says, “I long for more stories of women who are strong without being superheroes, who do not need to be extraordinary to be admirable.” For those who recall Meghan’s private visit to the Michelle Obama event in London, Ms. Adichie is the woman who interviewed Ms. Obama.
Adwoa Aboah is a British model, mental health campaigner, and founder of Gurls Talk, “a safe space to share and listen without any judgment or stigma.” Many will remember that like Meghan, Ms. Aboah was also a panelist at the International Women’s Day symposium in March. Commenting on the September issue, she said, “I can’t even begin to explain what an honor this is to have been featured alongside these inspirational women for @britishvogue‘s September Issue.”
Jacinda Ardern is the Prime Minister of New Zealand. She is the country’s third female Prime Minister and also the youngest individual to become New Zealand’s head of government in 163 years. Many readers will remember the engagements Meghan and Harry did with the Prime Minister during the Australia/New Zealand tour.
If you noticed the ‘blank’ space in that middle row, you’re not alone. Requested by Meghan, it represents a mirror, created to include and encourage readers to use their own platforms to effect change. From a Sussex Royal Instagram post: “The sixteenth space on the cover, a mirror, was included so that when you hold the issue in your hands, you see yourself as part of this collective.”
Francesca Hayward is a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet. She was born in Kenya and raised in Britain, and stars in the upcoming Cats film. Thoughts about the issue from Ms. Hayard’s Instagram page: “I have been reading Vogue since I was a little girl so I can’t explain what this means to be on the cover of the September Issue 2019 which was guest-edited by HRH The Duchess of Sussex. To be alongside these extraordinary women and be recognised as one of the Forces for Change is an incredible honour. The most immense thanks to @edward_enninful and @sussexroyal.”
Ramla Ali is a Somali-born boxer who came to the UK as a refugee; she is the first Muslim woman to win an English boxing title. Ms. Ali helped found the Somali Boxing Federation, and she offers free self-defense classes to a group of Muslim women in London. Also named as one of TIME’s Next Generation Leaders, she says it is “An absolute honour to have been selected by the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle @sussexroyal to be included in this year’s front cover of the September issue for British Vogue.”
Christy Turlington Burns is known as a supermodel but she is also a strong advocate for global maternal health. She is the founder of Every Mother Counts, an organization working to ensure women have access to “quality, respectful, and equitable maternity care” around the world. She also serves on the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council and is studying for her Master’s degree in Public Health at Columbia University.
Salma Hayek Pinault is an actor and producer as well as a women’s rights advocate. Born and raised in Mexico, Ms. Hayek is a naturalized US citizen. She has supported organizations and efforts to end discrimination against immigrants, and has worked to raise awareness of domestic violence. She posted on Instagram that “It feels incredibly inspiring to be included in the company of women I admire by a woman I admire.”
Sinéad Burke is a teacher, lecturer, and advocate for disability and design. She was also one of The Vogue 25, British Vogue’s 2018 list of the 25 most influential women working in Britain. Ms. Burke says she is “very proud, incredibly honoured and humbled” to be included among the 15 changemakers featured on the cover. “I’ve been collecting the September issue of Vogue for as long as I can remember. They were my gateway into a world that I (at the time) couldn’t visualise myself within. Those September issues still line my bookcases at home and now, I’ll get to add one more to that collection – one with me on the cover and many other women I respect, admire and am inspired by.”
Jane Fonda is an Oscar-winning actor, political activist, and fitness advocate. Ms. Fonda was one of the founders of the Women’s Media Center, a “progressive, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization working to raise the visibility, viability and decision-making power of women and girls in media…”.
Laverne Cox is an actor, producer and LGBTQIA+ advocate. One of the stars of Orange Is the New Black, on her Instagram page Ms. Cox says she is “…here to highlight the profound humanity that transgender people of all kinds possess.” Her thoughts about being one of the women featured on the cover: “I am completely overwhelmed and overjoyed to share this cover. Being on the cover of Vogue magazine has been a dream of mine since I was a child. To get to share this cover with this group of women who inspire me, who are truly forces for change is deeply humbling. That it’s @britishvogue is even more special to me because British Vogue was the first to feature a black model on its cover, Donyale Luna in May 1966.”
Yara Shahidi is a 19-year-old actor, youth voting activist and model. She celebrated her 18th birthday by having a voting party; she is the founder of Eighteen x 18, an initiative aimed at engaging young people and inspiring them to “…speak our truth, get active and vote!” Ms. Shahidi is also a student at Harvard University.
The issue includes an interview the Duchess did with Michelle Obama. More from British Vogue: “As First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama forged a path as the nation’s mother-in-chief – and became a style icon in the process. Now, freed from White House protocol, she’s loosening up, but still dispensing immaculate advice. In a rare interview, she talks motherhood and maturity with #BritishVogue’s guest editor HRH The Duchess of Sussex.”
From the interview:
…over a casual lunch of chicken tacos and my ever-burgeoning bump, I asked Michelle if she would help me with this secret project.
What was sent back to me, however, left me somewhat speechless. A few “simple questions” (which she could have answered with a sentence or two) were returned to me as a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative – a gentle reminder not of how but of why she has become such a globally respected public figure.
More from the piece:
If you were sitting down with your 15-year-old self, what do you think she would tell you, seeing who you have become today?
I love this question. I had a lot of fun when I was 15, but when it came right down to it, teenage-me was pretty by the book – straight As, through-the-roof standards for herself. So I imagine that she’d be proud of how far I’ve come – but she wouldn’t let me off the hook, either. I feel like she’d give me one of those silent nods of recognition, you know? She’d remind me there are still too many girls on the South Side of Chicago who are being shushed, cast aside or told they’re dreaming too big. She’d tell me to keep fighting for them. If I’m being honest, she’d probably smile about how cute my husband is, too.
You can read the story with the entire interview by clicking here.
UPDATE 30 July: It has been revealed in the Smart Works piece written by Meghan that she is partnering with British retailers Marks & Spencers, John Lewis, Jigsaw and designer Misha Nonoo to design a capsule collection for a workwear wardrobe.
As explained by Meghan in the piece, the brands have agreed to use a one-for-one business model. More from the Duchess on the collaboration:
“When you walk into a a Smart Works space, you’re met with racks of clothing and an array of bags and shoes. Sometimes, however, it can be a potpourri of mismatched sizes and colours, not always the right stylistic choices or range of sizes. To help with this, I asked Marks & Spencer, John Lewis & Partners, Jigsaw and my friend, the designer, Misha Nonoo, if they were willing to design a capsule collection of more classic options for a workwear wardrobe.
Taking the idea further, many of the brands agreed to use the one-for-one model: for each item purchased by a customer, one is donated to the chartiy. Not only does this allow us to be a part of each other’s story, it reminds us we are in it together.”
We’ll have more on this exciting development in a separate post!
Pre-publication coverage of the special issue includes a behind the scenes look at the making of the issue.
UPDATE 30 July: The September issue of British Vogue will be available on newsstands
and online this Friday, 2 August. The print edition is available at most Barnes & Noble and digital copies for the Nook app is available on the B&N site, $4.99. For Apple Newsstand+ subscribers, the platform also offers digital copies of the magazine. For those with the The British Vogue app on iPad/iPhone/Smart devices — the September Issue is now available for download.
As a result of the photos included in the magazine coverage, we have the bonus of two new what Meghan wore pieces. This image of the Duchess was taken while working behind the scenes with her patronage, SmartWorks.
UPDATE 30 July: An additional photo of the Duchess in the Gucci dress appeared today with the digital release of the September issue.
The Duchess is wearing a dress by Gucci, the brand’s Tweed Sheath with Bow ($3140). The dress is done in an ivory, pink and light blue cotton blend tweed, embellished with a grosgrain bow accented by a rose brooch at the neckline. The piece is from the label’s 2019 Cruise Collection. It is available at My Theresa ($3975); there are limited sizes offered at Net-a-Porter ($3980); it is in stock in most sizes at Matches Fashion ($4545). Our thanks to Meghan’s Mirror for the ID.
30 July: It appears Meghan is wearing her Manolo Blahnik ‘Carolyne’ satin and velvet polka dot slingbacks. The shoes are available in black suede at Saks, $695 (current sale offers up to a $200 savings with code: STYLESF).
She first wore the shoes on the Morroco Visit back in February.
In the below images, Meghan is wearing her William Vintage coat, previously seen in February while in New York City.
And in the photos with editor Edward Enninful, Meghan is wearing a piece from Everlane. It is the brand’s Japanese GoWeave Essential Jumpsuit in black, $120.
For those interested, Michelle Obama is wearing AG jeans and a custom tailored white t-shirt.
We leave you with this thought —
Think about how YOU might use your own platforms to effect change.
The Today Show has a piece about the special issue.
Overnight, the Duchess of Sussex was revealed as the guest editor of British Vogue’s September issue. @keirsimmons has the story behind it, including why the duchess isn’t on the cover. pic.twitter.com/k2iM7nGElT
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 29, 2019