As lives across the world are changed by the coronavirus pandemic, magazines face a number of dilemmas, such as dealing with cancelled events and shoots, and choosing what to cover when the world is talking about one thing. In response, Vogue Italia has revealed that its April cover will be blank, in tribute to victims of the virus. The cover was revealed on the magazine's Instagram page, along with a statement by editor-in-chief Emanuele Farneti explaining the decision.
This is the first time in its history that the magazine will feature a blank white cover, and it's a bold statement from such a powerful title. Magazine covers are often a vehicle for risk-taking design work (take a look at some of the most controversial covers of all time). In his statement, Farneti reveals that the magazine dropped the other projects it was working on, because "its noblest tradition is never to look the other way." Farneti added, "To speak of anything else – while people are dying, doctors and nurses are risking their lives and the world is changing forever – is not the DNA of Vogue Italia."
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The cover, designed by Vogue Italia's creative director Ferdinando Verderi, represents respect and rebirth, as well as the uniforms of "those who put their own lives on the line to save ours". Farneti also says it harks back to the Great Depression of the 1930s, after which the colour white "was adopted for clothes as an expression of purity in the present, and of hope in the future."
Farneti explains that he had three goals for the issue, which will be published on 10 April. He wanted to look beyond the turmoil and imagine a world "without indulging in self-pity", to be the first fashion publisher to create a "snapshot of this new world" (by gathering a community of artists stuck at home), and to publish the first plain white cover in the magazine's history.
While some brand responses have felt like opportunism (not least the influx of 'socially-distanced' logos shared by everyone from McDonald's to Audi), Vogue Italia's effort, while audacious, feels like a respectful message of both introspection and hope – especially considering Italy is reportedly one of the worst-hit countries by the virus. We can't help but wonder what will what the contents of the magazine will look like – will the various glossy ads be gone too, or is it business as usual inside? Still, the cover at least is a sensitive statement from Vogue Italia. "White is not surrender," says Farneti, but a blank sheet waiting to be written."