Yes, I’ve seen all of the criticism lodged at the Duchess of Sussex for her guest-editorship of British Vogue’s September Issue. The sleepy late-summer months are always a bit fraught for royal coverage, because most of the royals are on vacation and most of the British tabloids just use “filler” royal stories, like trying to work up some energy for months-old controversies or they’ll simply repeat stuff we already know. So in some ways, the British Vogue drop was interesting because… Meghan’s going to be the topic of conversation for the next month. As I said previously, I don’t really care enough to detail the criticisms point by point. Just trust me that it’s the same-old same-old. Here’s something nice though – photographer Peter Lindbergh says that Meghan’s main editorial direction was “MOAR FRECKLES.”
The German photographer Peter Lindbergh has captured 15 cover stars for the September 2019 issue of British Vogue, his first cover for the magazine since the September 1992 issue. Here, he tells Ellie Pithers how the mammoth cover shoot came together over three continents, several days, and – in a first for the magazine – via video link.
When it came to photographing the extraordinary cast of women who appear on the cover of this collector’s edition of British Vogue, there was only one man for the job: Peter Lindbergh. “It was one of those brilliantly spontaneous moments when HRH The Duchess of Sussex and I had exactly the same idea at exactly the same time,” says Edward Enninful, of the choice. “Peter sees beauty in real people, in real situations. He makes everybody feel their best.”
The German photography titan boasts a long history with British Vogue, but it was his now-famous January 1990 cover, featuring a gang of supermodels, that was the reference for the Forces for Change issue. “Natural” was a word that came up repeatedly in cover discussions. “I hate retouching, I hate make-up. I always say, ‘Take the make-up off!’” Lindbergh, 74, confirms. “The number of beautiful women who have asked me to lengthen their legs or move their eyes further apart…” he breaks into a laugh. “You would not believe. It’s a culture of madness.”
The images for the ambitious cover shoot were captured in June, over three continents and several days. Pulling the portfolio together required gargantuan effort: co-ordinating the diaries of 15 of the world’s most successful and phenomenally busy women left little margin for missteps. Two separate shoots took place in studios in New York and London. “My instructions from the Duchess were clear: ‘I want to see freckles!’” says Lindbergh, who spoke to her over the phone on the morning of the New York shoot. “Well, that was like running through open doors for me. I love freckles.”
Meghan wanted to see women’s freckles because she’s a big fan of her own freckles. She’s talked before about how she doesn’t like to wear so much makeup because she wants to show off her freckles, and how she hates it when magazines airbrush her freckles. When I first saw the British Vogue cover, my eye caught on all of the freckles too. It’s cute. Anyway, it sounds like Lindbergh had a great time shooting these editorials. Would you like me to preview another complaint from the haters? Why didn’t Meghan choose a BRITISH photographer? Why didn’t she choose a female photographer? I don’t know… probably because nothing is ever good enough when it concerns Meghan.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, British Vogue.