Today in Madonna History: May 3, 2019

On May 3 2019, British Vogue revealed that Madonna would be gracing their June cover, with photos by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott.

Vogue also published a fantastic article about Madonna’s fight against ageism:

Is The Fight Against Ageism Madonna’s Biggest Revolution Ever?

With her new album Madame X, out June 14th, Madonna stages another reinvention in her revolutionary career. But in a new era of self-expression, individual freedom and all-encompassing diversity, it’s perplexing that her age remains her biggest barrier, argues Anders Christian Madsen.

The morning after Madonna’s red-blooded performance at the Billboard Awards on Wednesday evening, entertainment websites quoted the court of Twitter. It was the same old story: granny emojis, ageist slurs and chauvinist memes. At the release of Madame X, her fourteenth studio album, 60-year-old rebel Madonna is still facing the toughest of all her revolutions: making the world accept that women at sixty can create, perform and make an impact with the same freedom of expression as a thirty-year-old. Regardless of her artistic merit, age and ageism have formed the background noise to every album Madonna has released since she turned fifty; perhaps even forty. What seems to be society’s issue with her is that she refuses to abide by the unwritten rules of age pertaining to everything from behaviour to dress codes and humour. The implication is that Madonna is in denial of her age; that she wants to trick us into thinking she’s young. The nerve!

Yet, on the contrary, Madonna’s music and performances in recent years have owned and celebrated her age and legacy, from the way she proudly references every reinvention of her career on her every tour, to her nostalgically reflective lyrics and samples of her own evergreens on her last album Rebel Heart, and her new single Medellín, which opens with verses that entirely embrace where she’s at in life: “I took a pill and had a dream, I went back to my seventeenth year. Allowed myself to be naïve, to be someone I’ve never been.” At sixty, Madonna is anything but old news. Medellín, a duet with Maluma, is the most experimental work she’s written since Ray of Light: a multi-layered, mostly Spanish-language song that breaks all the conventions of pop music, yet echoes in your ear like the catchiest of Generation Z radio hits. So why is BBC’s Radio 1 – home to all the pop stars for whom Madonna paved the way – not adding Medellín to its playlist?

Their actions echo the statement made by the station’s head of music, George Ergatoudis, when Madonna released Rebel Heart in 2015: “The BBC Trust have asked us to go after a young audience. We’ve got to concentrate on [people aged] fifteen to thirty. We have to bring our average age down. That’s something we’re very conscious of. The vast majority of people who like Madonna, who like her music now, are over thirty and frankly, we’ve moved on from Madonna.” It was a sad message to stand by in a time when all the things Madonna has spent her life fighting for finally seem to be materialising in our shared mentality. Madame X is the first album Madonna has released since Time’s Up changed the world in 2017. Those waves made a lot of the causes she has worked for throughout her career come true. But they also brought with them a heightened sense of the witch-hunts Madonna has been subjected to since she hit the scene in the 1980s.

Her fearless tackling of sex as a topic in the public forum, refusal of sexual and gender-specific categorisation, and inexhaustible fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, religious suppression and ageism in the post-modern world should have made her the most celebrated pop star alive. And yet, by denying Madonna the same platform to promote her music as Rihanna, Beyoncé and Ariana Grande, we seem to forget the invaluable part she has played in creating the culture of individuality and diversity so attributed to the new generations. The destruction of icons has never been more practised than in this moment in time. There’s no knowing when the next accusations will hit the people you admire most, dead or alive, and tarnish their legacies with the indefinite effect that deems public defence temporarily unadvisable.

It’s why the opening scene in Madonna’s video for Medellín is so pertinent. “How could I trust anyone after years of disappointment and betrayal? How could I not want to run away?” she asks, confiding in her god the way she’s done it publicly so many times in her career. “I will never be what society expects me to be. I have been kidnapped, tortured, humiliated and abused. In the end I still have hope. I still believe in the goodness of humans.” Cynics will say her words are self-pitying and conceited, but for those of us to whom Madonna has served as an inspiration, an educator and a revolutionary for three or four decades, her prayer is as haunting as it is relevant. After all, it’s hard to think of a living person with a continuous platform as big as hers, who has persistently used it to inspire and improve the world around her. The provocative nature of Madonna’s behaviour is a very small part of her total sum as a freedom fighter.

But perhaps she’s met her match in what we all fear more than the battles she won in the past, which revolved around sexual and cultural differences and views different to our own. Age is the threat that hits us all, a fact that explains the existence of ageism. It’s why it’s such a towering barrier to climb, even for Madonna and her age-defying racehorse physique. But shouldn’t the #MeToo era, with all its morals and ethics, inevitably result in a better climate for a woman like Madonna? At the end of the day, she’s putting her 60-year-old, scanty-clad ass on the line for future generations to experience less societal limits than she did once she passed the 40-year mark. Rather than pointing out her age, every person on social media – young or old – should be celebrating it, thanking Madonna for continuously going where no one else dares to go. Because while all of Madonna’s revolutions have gained her attention, it’s nothing compared to what she’s done for the rest of us.

Today in Madonna History: April 14, 2009

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On April 14 2009, Steven Meisel was featured in Vogue magazine, and the article described him as the man that taught Madonna about re-invention.

In the article, Madonna shared some nice thoughts on Meisel:

Even Madonna agrees that there is, indeed, “a great sense of mystery” about Meisel – so much so that after all these years she feels she still doesn’t really know him very well. “I know that I love him,” she says. “You get sucked into his aura. He knows things.”

She learned this from one of their first collaborations, which was for the cover of Like A Virgin. “Before I worked with Steven,” says Madonna, “I just showed up in the clothes I was wearing, stood in front of the lights, and got my picture taken. With Steven, a team of people descended on me, started to undress me. Someone grabbed my hair, another grabbed my face, another started helping me try on various bits of clothes, and they all seemed to be speaking a language I didn’t understand – the language of Steven Meisel.”

To hear Madonna talk about working with Meisel is like being let in on a long-held secret. She goes on, “Steven had a vision. He had done his research. He had very specific references. I really respected the care that he took with his work, how seriously he approached it, but at the same time he has a great sense of irony. He made me feel like I was part of something important. He treated each photo shoot like it was a small film and insisted that we create a character each time we worked but then would make fun of the archetypes we created. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of reinvention.”

Today in Madonna History: March 2, 2017

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On March 2 2017, Madonna announced that starting March 7 she would appear on three different covers of Vogue Germany, with new photos taken by Luigi and Iango.

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Today in Madonna History: December 23, 2016

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On December 23 2016, Madonna was featured in Vogue magazine’s on-line Celebrity Style section: Madonna’s Winter Airport Look Is All About the Show of the Year.

Vogue contributor Edward Barsamian had this to say:

All hail Queen Madge. Earlier in the month at Billboard’s Women in Music Awards, Madonna made waves in a custom Gucci suit embroidered with the phrase The Greek goddess of music that brings joy, and the same could be said of her approach to airport style at JFK. Lately the singer’s off-duty ensembles have included posh looks for the school run and carrying the It bag of the season. Her latest in-flight outfit was a fresh take on winter dressing that featured the year’s most wanted shoes.

Lately, A-listers like Harry Styles, Justin Bieber, and Kim Kardashian West have been stepping out in teddy bear coats, but Madonna opted for a sportier, cheekier rendition with her fur-trimmed parka from Mackage and Moschino’s bear-print tee. A Stars and Stripes scarf provided a directional slant on the American flag, while her frayed-hem trousers were simultaneously polished yet edgy. But stealing the show were the little details: shield shades, a Ralph Lauren satchel, and Rihanna’s chic, highly coveted creepers for Puma.

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