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Anna Wintour has ceded the cover of Vogue to Beyoncé, fashion’s new queen

AP/Evan Agostini
Long live the queen.
By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Legendary Vogue editor Anna Wintour, longtime queen of glossy print magazines, has reportedly relinquished the magazine’s September cover to none other than Beyoncé Knowles Carter, the bona fide queen of the internet.

Beyoncé will be granted unprecedented control over her cover shoot, the Huffington Post reports. The superstar will not only be writing her own long-form captions and providing her own images, according to sources who spoke to Huffpo, she’s also tapped her own photographer for the shoot: 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell, the first black photographer to shoot the fashion bible’s cover in its 126-year existence. What’s more, Bey won’t be granting Vogue an interview for the issue (she declined to interview for her last Vogue shoot in 2015, a rare allowance for a cover subject who was not a model).

Wintour, a legendary control freak and the inspiration for Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada, has historically maintained full ownership of the magazine’s cover shoot and story, HuffPo reports. In fact, cover subjects are given virtually no say over the photos, which they see a week before the issue is released to the public. A Vogue spokesperson declined to comment on the details of the contract, writing by email that the magazine doesn’t “comment on future editorial (or speculations).”

Update: Despite widespread reports that Wintour would be leaving the magazine, its parent company announced July 31 that she had agreed to stay on as Vogue’s editor-in-chief and Condé Nast’s artistic director “indefinitely.” Bob Sauerberg, Condé Nast’s CEO, said in a tweet: “Anna Wintour is an incredibly talented and creative leader whose influence is beyond measure.”

Still, Beyoncé’s rumored takeover of Vogue’s September cover is yet another sign of the singer’s supreme cultural influence—not unlike that time when she and her husband, Jay Z, took over the Louvre Museum last month to record the music video for Apes**t.

And the fact that Wintour is deferring to Beyoncé also speaks to a greater trend in the fashion world. Glossy monthlies—the Elles, Vogues, and Glamours of the world—have seen their grip on the fashion world slipping for some time now (paywall). Faced with the threat of digital media, as well as the meteoric rise of Instagram, these publications have been forced to adjust. Even the most hallowed fashion houses have become more Instagram-friendly, and in many cases work directly with influencers to boost a brand.

Beyoncé, for one, has had little need to turn to the media to get her messages out. Instead, she has cut out the middle man, announcing her last pregnancy on Instagram, and releasing the much-anticipated first photos of her children via Instagram or Tumblr rather than selling them to a magazine. Whether these decisions came from a desire for control and privacy, or were extremely savvy business moves, they have helped make her image even more valuable and sought-after.

In fact, in 2016 the market research firm NDP rated Beyoncé as the second-most marketable celebrity, noting that she has almost 3.4 times as many strong brand endorsement opportunities as the average big-name celebrity. A shout out from the superstar on social media has the ad equivalent value of more than $1 million, according to a report by D’Marie Analytics, a social media research firm. And with 116 million followers, Beyoncé maintains the fifth-most followed Instagram account, according to the market research firm Statista.

Beyoncé’s Vogue cover—and her unprecedented control over it—is yet another feather in star’s cap. And it’s a big get for Vogue, too: Her image is essentially priceless, and the September cover is likely to sell a lot of magazines.

So ultimately, the Beyoncé cover could be seen as a victory for Wintour: an editor who knows a thing or two about influence herself.

This post was updated with the news that Wintour is not leaving Condé Nast or Vogue.

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