Whether dressed in latex or leather, baring herself for a book or video, kissing Britney Spears, downloading her latest array of Instagram videos, or announcing her 2023 tour to celebrate her four decades in the music business, Madonna always curries public attention. And with her recent covers for Vanity Fair, the 64-year-old singer is surely stirring attention and controversy yet again.
Gracing the covers of Italy, France, and Spain’s collaboration of their first-ever Vanity Fair “Icon Issue,” Madonna called on photographers Luigi and Iango to create what could only be called ‘provocative imagery.’
In the cover photos, Madonna wears an array of designers, from Galliano for Maison Margiela, Gucci, a gilded Dolce & Gabbana headpiece and veil, and Jean Paul Gaultier, posing, or one could even say “replicating” religious scenes. She comports herself like the Virgin Mary, as well as in an image reminiscent of The Last Supper, where she is surrounded by women. The two-day shoot employed 80 people and was styled by Madonna’s longtime collaborator B. Åkerlund.
“In this very special issue, Madonna becomes Madonna again: an icon. Not just the embodiment of a musical trend or a style of dress, but a figure as disturbing as she is sacred,” said Olivier Bouchara, Head of Editorial Content for Vanity Fair France.
From “Hail Holy Queen Mother Madonna” to “My #Jesus is not #Madonna’s costume. Blasphemous,” was just some of what was said across Twitter.
To be fair, Madonna is not outfitted in religious iconography throughout. In one picture, she is suspended by a rope while surrounded by bullfighters.
Still, Madonna and everyone on the shoot was well aware of what they are doing and why. This is not a lady who has stepped through her wardrobe choices, song-smithing, and overall image anciently.
But, then, an artist this visionary would deserve the title of icon.