“You can’t just do it alone with just Black people,” says Sean Combs (“Puffy”? “Diddy”? “Love”?) in the cover story for Vanity Fair’s September issue. As The Root reported on Tuesday, the music industry impresario was referring to “saving the Black race,” which is reportedly among his numerous aims at this stage of his decades-long career. But when it comes to creating a stunning celebrity family photo, the patriarch’s portrait with teenage daughters Chance, Jessie James and D’Lila Star Combs proves Black people can do it all by themselves.
For the regal vignette, Combs was reportedly inspired by the work of Atlanta-based husband-and-wife team Creative Soul Photography, whose bestselling 2020 book Glory: Magical Visions of Black Beauty not only celebrated the beauty of Black children and culture, but earned photographers Regis and Kahran Bethencourt a spot among the 2021 honorees of The Glow Up 50. While many celebs might’ve asked photographer Kaito, stylist June Ambrose and the creative team to simply riff on the couple’s style for Vanity Fair, according to a post from Creative Soul’s Instagram account, Diddy did the right thing, enlisting the couple and their glam squad, hairstylist and TGU50 honoree Shanna Anise and makeup artist Ashlie Doxey to achieve the desired look.
“Too often, celebs are ‘inspired’ by creatives without bringing in the actual talent,” read the post, which gave a behind-the-scenes look at the July shoot (also seen above). “[Diddy] wanted his girls to have a look similar to the CreativeSoul vibe for his [Vanity Fair] shoot and invited our team out to Cali to assist with the girls’ looks. [Shanna Anise] and [Ashlie Doxey] crushed the hair and makeup looks for these. Kudos to everyone that made the shoot happen.”
See how easy that was? It’s one of those rare moments where a creator gets to participate in (and profit from) the homage, and we’re here for it—as well as the esteemed credit of these self-built creatives’ work appearing in Vanity Fair. (Additional shouts are due to Editor-in-Chief Radhika Blank, who has been instrumental in increasing Black representation on both sides of the lens at the legacy imprint).
As for the Bethencourts, Vanity Fair isn’t the only milestone they’re celebrating. On September 21, they will publish their first mass-produced calendar with Workman Publishing, titled “Heirs.” Just a few weeks later, the couple’s first children’s book, The Me I Choose to Be (Little, Brown Young Readers) will be released on October 12. Described as a “beautiful picture book which is an uplifting ode to the power of potential,” the text is penned by bestselling author of I Love My Hair, Natasha Tarpley.
See? We told you Black people could do it all by themselves.