British Vogue has published a special November issue featuring female academics and businesswomen rather than models, on both its fashion and editorial pages. Among the women featured are Melanie Reid, a tetraplegic journalist, Sarah Wood, co-founder of Unruly Media and architectural historian Shumi Bose. Nevertheless, the issue, which promises to focus on the topic of “real beauty” and the way successful women dress, will still feature a celebrity, Emily Blunt, on its cover. “The combination of a newspaper commentariat, which is always keen to leap critically on a woman in the public eye who dresses even the slightest bit adventurously, alongside a professional culture that still encourages a conventional conformity, makes it hard for some women to dress the way they would really like to,” editor Alexandra Shulman said of the issue, naming U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May as an example. “Now we have a prime minister who clearly enjoys thinking about how she dresses — and is not afraid to wear jazzy shoes, bright colors and clothes that draw attention rather than deflect it — there really is no excuse.” While the reaction to featuring “real women” in the fashion magazine has been largely positive, several people have pointed out that it’s just a small step in achieving real diversity in the fashion industry. Marisa Bate, senior editor at the website The Pool said she sees the special issue as a “shift in positioning” for the magazine, telling the BBC, “Vogue is trying to stay culturally relevant and changing tack.” She added, “In this way, Alexandra Shulman is following the cultural agenda, not setting it, and the magazine is having to bend its boundaries to feel relevant to a younger generation that has begun to reject the ‘perfect’, airbrushed images that normally fill their pages.”
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