In Defence of Kim Kardashian's US Vogue Cover

23 March 2014 by

Since Kim Kardashian tweeted her first US Vogue cover on Friday, the backlash has been almost deafening. Across every social media platform,  parodies and vociferous condemnation has been endemic.

Kim Kardashian & Kanye West's cover for the April issue of US Vogue have inspired countless spoofs

Of course this is not the first time the choice of Vogue cover star has prompted outrage – just think back to Victoria Beckham’s first UK Vogue which had naysayers prophesizing the end of the magazine or when Vogue Italia put Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton on their cover. Indeed one of the roles of the Vogue cover is to challenge as well as to reflect cultural mores. As Anna Wintour says in her Editor’s Letter inside Kimye’s April issue, "...Part of the pleasure of editing Vogue, one that lies in a long tradition of this magazine, is being able to feature those who define the culture at any given moment, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it."

Kim Kardashian's Fashion Reinvention: her wardrobe of Proenza Schouler, Maxmara & Tom Ford

The intensity of the indignation surrounding Kim and Kanye’s cover rests on the widely held opinion that Kim is a talentless reality star who has made her name off the back of a trashy sex tape - hardly the credentials for an aspirational role model. Since her initial noteriety, the impression is that she has sat back and let the millions roll in, all the while defiling the quality of pop culture with her family’s vacuous brand of celebrity.

But here’s the thing: Kim is a seriously successful business woman. While the sex tape may have launched her career, it's not every woman who can build a multi-million dollar empire of the back of a homemade video (for more analysis of this argument, read on here). Kim is a self-made millionaire with an appeal that transcends continents. Hundreds of thousands of viewers tune into KUWTK, buy into her branded products and follow her every move across multiple social networking platforms. Whether she is your taste or not, there is also no denying that she is an incredibly beautiful woman whose gravity defying curves offer an alternative body template to the gym-whittled 'perfection' of most cover stars - something which should surely be championed.

Kim's high profile fashion covers

Her presence on the cover of Vogue isn’t exactly an anomaly in fashion terms either. Kim has previously been featured in several high profile fashion magazines and has fronted industry heavyweight titles in a non-ironic way. From Carine Roitfeld's CR to The New York Magazine's fashion special, Kim has been on the road to fashion respectibility for months, if not years now. You only have to look at the way fashion's most rarefied designers cooed over baby North West with everyone from Celine's Phoebe Philo to Lanvin's Alber Elbaz sending gifts for the newborn. And we havent even mentioned Kim's ultra-tight friendship with Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci or her makeover wardrobe stacked with rails of serious fashion labels from Proenza Schouler to Calvin Klein. In this context, is it really such a shock she's on the cover of Vogue?

Reinvention is a tricky feat to pull off, but you can't fault Kim's determination to conquer the industry. Whatever the final assessment, there's no doubt that this cover will offer Kim yet another layer of fashion respectibility. And with her younger sister Kendall Jenner carving a bonafide career as a hot young model simultaneously (she's already nabbed a Miss Vogue cover FYI), now may be just the time to accept that the Kardashians are part of Planet Fashion, whether the industry likes it or not.


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