Why Billy Porter Is Calling Out Vogue Over Harry Styles Dress Cover

Nearly a year after Harry Styles made history with his 2020 Vogue cover, Billy Porter is questioning the magazine's decision. "All he has to do," Porter said, "is be white and straight."

By Samantha Schnurr Oct 18, 2021 1:44 PMTags
Watch: Harry Styles Makes History as 1st Solo Male to Land "Vogue" Cover

When it comes to Harry Styles' historic Vogue cover, Billy Porter has made it clear he doesn't think the choice was all that golden. 

The One Direction alum became the first man to appear solo on the cover of the iconic fashion magazine in all of its 127-year history. The milestone was made even more significant when he posed in a dress topped with a Gucci jacket. However, Porter, synonymous with gender-bending style, was not as quick to applaud the watershed moment. 

"I feel like the fashion industry has accepted me because they have to. I'm not necessarily convinced and here is why," Porter told The Sunday Times. "I created the conversation [about non-binary fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight white man, in a dress on their cover for the first time."

"I'm not dragging Harry Styles, but he is the one you're going to try and use to represent this new conversation?" the star asked. "He doesn't care, he's just doing it because it's the thing to do. This is politics for me. This is my life. I had to fight my entire life to get to the place where I could wear a dress to the Oscars and not be gunned now. All he has to do is be white and straight." E! News has reached out to Styles' rep and Vogue for comment and has not heard back. 

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Billy Porter's 2020 Oscars Red Carpet Outfit

As Porter referenced, it's nearly impossible to think of his red carpet repertoire without remembering the Christian Siriano tuxedo gown he courageously wore to the 2019 Oscars, a significant moment for a star who was previously told "my queerness would be a liability." Instead, he's moved the needle—sewing and otherwise. 

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

"I changed the whole game," he told The Sunday Times. "I. Personally. Changed. The. Whole. Game. And that is not ego, that is just fact. I was the first one doing it and now everybody is doing it." 

However, Styles credited other artists with paving the way for his own head-turning fashion choices. 

"The people that I looked up to in music—Prince and David Bowie and Elvis [Presley] and Freddie Mercury and Elton John—they're such showmen," he told Vogue in 2020. "As a kid it was completely mind-blowing. Now I'll put on something that feels really flamboyant, and I don't feel crazy wearing it."

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