It is back en vogue for the first lady to be back in Vogue.
After a four year hiatus of first ladies gracing the cover of the fashion magazine, Jill Biden is on the August issue, which goes on sale on July 20. Biden, who posed for the pictures this spring at the White House, wears a navy, floral Oscar de la Renta dress for the cover shot, leaning on the balcony overlooking the South Lawn. The images were taken by photographer Annie Leibovitz.
In the accompanying feature story, Biden tells writer Jonathan Van Meter she is overwhelmed with initiatives she wants to tackle during her tenure.
“When I became second lady – and there was so much I wanted to do – I always said, ‘I will never waste this platform,’ ” says Biden. “… And now I have a bigger platform and I feel every day, like …. what could I give up? That I would want to give up? Nothing.”
In one of the images of Biden, she is posed seated in the Executive Residence’s East Sitting Hall with a pencil in between her teeth, reading glasses on, typing on an Apple laptop.
Biden tells Van Meter, who traveled with the first lady on several recent official trips for the Vogue feature, she thinks the mood of the nation has shifted since President Joe Biden took office.
“During the campaign, I felt so much anxiety from people; they were scared. When I travel around the country now, I feel as though people can breathe again,” she says. “I think that’s part of the reason Joe was elected. People wanted someone to come in and heal this nation, not just from the pandemic, which I feel Joe did by, you know, getting shots in everybody’s arms.”
She added she thinks Biden’s demeanor affected change. “He’s just a calmer president. He lowers the temperature,” says Biden.
The President was also interviewed, separately, by Van Meter. Biden says being commander in chief has changed their marriage, and that he finds himself at times missing the freedoms he says they used to enjoy.
“I miss her. I’m really proud of her. But it’s not like we can just go off like we used to,” the President said. “When we were living in Delaware and married, once a month we’d just go up to a local bed-and-breakfast by ourselves, to make sure we had a romantic time to just get away and hang out with each other.”
The Bidens recently celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary. But, the President says they are still trying to manage balancing the job with their personal life.
“We have to figure out a way—and I mean this sincerely—to be able to steal time for one another. I think that’s the deal,” he says.
A first lady in the pages of Vogue, or on the cover, has – for the last several decades – become an American publishing tradition; almost every modern first lady has been photographed for the magazine.
The exception was Melania Trump, whose tenure in the White House was tied to the controversies of President Donald Trump. There have been conflicting arguments as to which side – Trump’s or Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour’s – was responsible for keeping Trump, a former model, from being featured.
Neither spoke of it publicly, but Wintour was vocal about her thoughts on Donald Trump, using her editorial note in the March 2020 issue of Vogue to endorse Biden for president, pointing to the 45th President’s “dishonesty,” and “shocking lack of empathy.” In a 2019 interview when asked specifically about Melania Trump’s fashion, Wintour changed the subject to Trump’s predecessor, Michelle Obama.
“She was the best ambassador that this country could possibly have in many ways, obviously, way beyond fashion,” said Wintour.
Obama was indeed a Vogue favorite, posing for a first lady-record three covers during her eight years in the White House, her first in 2009, and second in 2012. Obama’s last Vogue cover feature was December 2016.
The August issue of Vogue featuring Biden may be her first cover, but she posed with her family inside the March 2020 issue, and was part of a spread on the women in Joe Biden’s family in November 2008.
At this time in the arc of her career, however, the stakes are higher.
“I feel like adding more things (to my platform) but I know it’s not possible, because you want to stay centered, because you want to do things well. And there’s so much to do. There is … so. much. to. do,” she says.