A look back at 2020 through its best Vogue covers

Founded in 1892 as a weekly journal, Vogue was transformed into a women’s fashion magazine in 1909 when it was acquired by Conde Nast. Today, Vogue is the most prestigious fashion and lifestyle magazine globally. Anna Wintour famously became the Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue in 1988, and since then, the magazine has moved towards inclusivity and away from traditional high-fashion models. 

While American Vogue’s 2020 covers feature style icons like Naomi Campbell and Harry Styles,  they were underwhelming. Styles made headlines when he graced the cover in a Gucci dress, and while this sends an important message about breaking down gender barriers in fashion, the photography and look itself felt tired. Luckily, other countries made up for American Vogue missing the mark. Here are my top three picks for the best international Vogue covers of 2020. 

#1 Saoirse Ronan for Vogue Korea by Hyea W. Kang 

In this photo, Saorise Ronan is what I hope I looked like every time my parents came home to find me sitting on the counter eating sleeves of saltines. The styling is emblematic of the popularity of thrifting and second-hand clothing (even though she’s casually dripping in Gucci from head to toe). She looks effortlessly cool with the intentional mix-matching of textures and aesthetics. The combination of hideous chunky shoes and delicate lace socks is so unexpected and strange that it actually works. The actress in this picture reminds me of a toddler who dressed herself for the first time and marched downstairs to show her Mom, and I’m here for it. This cover is proof that you can still play around with high fashion, both in terms of styling and photography. 

#2 Gigi Hadid for Vogue Paris by Inez and Vinoodh

The Hadid’s are no strangers to the fashion industry, but Gigi on the cover of the May/June edition of Vogue Paris is like we’ve never seen her before. She wears a stunning gold Dolce & Gabbana dress accented by heavy jewelry and dewy makeup. Hadid commands your attention with her stance and she’s reminiscent of Cleopatra in the least tacky way possible. The proximity of the photo allows you to see how skillfully executed her makeup was, and it also highlights the texture in her earrings and the intricate designs layered underneath the fringe of her dress. I can’t get enough of this look, especially the purple shade of eyeshadow that brings out the colors in her bracelets and compliments everything from her blush to her skin tone perfectly. 

#3 Adut Akech Bior for Vogue Australia by Christine Centenera

Bior, a South Sudanese-Australian model looks unintentionally flawless in a jumble of Burberry, Bottega Venetta, Tiffany and Co. and Balenciaga. While this odd angle wasn’t universally well-received, I think it allows for a fresh perspective. This outfit screams 2020 because it’s as if the model hopped out of bed in her undoubtedly-expensive thermal jammies, threw on the nicest dress in her closet, and tied a collared shirt around her waist for some edginess. Another benefit of the angle is it highlights Bior’s impeccable skin and the draping of the plaid button-down makes her waist look super snatched. There are so many different visions interacting here, but the competing patterns and colors bring a depth to the outfit that really enhances the look.