Fashion

The Powerful Meaning Behind Amanda Gorman’s Vogue Cover Dress

It’s so significant.

American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the US Capitol in Washington DC on January 20, 2021. (Photo by Patrick Semansky / POOL / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK SEMANSKY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
PATRICK SEMANSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Amanda Gorman is Vogue’s latest cover star. On Wednesday, the magazine revealed that the 23-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate graces the front of its May issue in not one, but two different covers, both styled by Gabriella Karefa-Johnson. She’s the first poet to ever be featured on the magazine’s cover, and for the momentous occasion, she wore a Kente gown designed by Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton.

In an Instagram post, Karefa-Johnson explained the meaning behind the Kente gown, saying in part that it was about “rejecting the constant policing of how we Black womxn show up in the world.”

“For ALL of us, throughout the diaspora, who feel a true cultural unity through the Pan African movement and who cherish the inherent style and grace and elegance of the Black womxn,” she says. “For the love of fashion! Words can scarcely describe how I feel about this cover.”

Karefa-Johnson thanked Abloh, whose parents are Ghanian immigrants, for designing a piece “that speaks to how important cultural heritage is in the work that we do.”

“Oh, how widely my Sierra Leonean grandfather, my grandmother, and all of my ancestors must be smiling,” she says. “How chuffed they would be to see a symbol of our heritage celebrated in this way — how astounded they would be by a young black woman so graciously and confidently commanding the world stage as Amanda has — so beautiful and so powerful and so emblematic of a better future.”

Following her February Time cover, Gorman’s Vogue cover marks her second major cover so far this year, and it’s sure to be one of many to come. With a new book out and an Oprah interview under her belt, her meteoric rise shows no sign of slowing down. Even the Vogue story is appropriately titled “The Rise and Rise of Amanda Gorman.”

“What a joy to do this cover while wearing a piece designed by groundbreaking Black designer @virgilabloh that honors my heritage,” Gorman shares on Instagram. “This is called the Rise of Amanda Gorman, but it is truly for all of you, both named and unseen, who lift me up.”