Anisa Omar, who works at Waitrose & Partners in London’s King’s Cross, is one of three frontline heroes to be featured in Vogue during the Covid-19 outbreak

Move over Kate Moss, there’s a new Vogue cover star in town. But this beautiful young woman isn’t a supermodel, actress or celebrity – she’s a supermarket assistant at Waitrose & Partners.

Anisa Omar, who works at the retailer’s King’s Cross branch in London, is one of three frontline workers to feature on the cover of the iconic fashion magazine’s July edition, with the words, “The New Front Line” on the cover.

The 21-year-old joins a long list of glamorous cover stars to grace British Vogue since its launch in 1916 – including Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy and Beyoncé – but she had no idea what was happening until a fortnight after her photograph was taken.

“I got a call the night before my shift telling me to come in a few hours early, and that Vogue was coming to take pictures of us,” recalls Anisa. “I thought it was something to do with the whole store, so I didn’t think it was a big deal.

“The photographer took some portraits of me, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that my manager, Ed, said: ‘It’s all confidential, you can’t tell anyone, but you’re going to be on the cover of Vogue.’ I couldn’t believe it. It’s crazy! I was so excited.

“It’s been so hard to keep it secret,” she adds. “But my friends will be really happy for me.”

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On sale from 5 June, the magazine has a gatefold cover, which can be opened out to reveal two further images inside. There are three versions, with Anisa and her two fellow cover stars – London Overground train driver Narguis Horsford and midwife Rachel Millar – each taking a turn on the front, and inside the gatefold of the other copies.

Photographer Jamie Hawkesworth, who has previously taken pictures of models including Kate Moss and GigiHadid,says he could see that there was something special about Anisa.

“She was very warm and approachable, and really beautiful,” he says. “She looked fantastic. I did say to the manager: ‘I can’t make any promises, but I think that’s going to be a cover.’ There was something about it that was perfect. It articulated everything that’s going on – that idea of being a key worker and a bit of a hero – in that little moment. I hope she likes it.”

Jamie spent two weeks photographing frontline workers for the historic edition, which includes portraits of NHS staff, delivery drivers, teachers and MPs across 20 pages. The decision to use non-celebrities for the cover was taken by editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.

“This moment in history has seen society shift its attention on to some of the people who are not usually afforded the spotlight,” he explains. “I am proud British Vogue’s July issue is able to provide a special moment of thanks to the NHS and everyone on the frontline saving lives every day.

“Our trio of cover stars represent the millions of people in the UK who, at the height of the pandemic, in the face of dangers large and small, put on their uniforms and work clothes and went out to help people.”

Anisa, whose brother and sister are also Partners in Waitrose stores, is delighted key workers are being recognised this way. “It’s nice to be appreciated,” she says.

She’s going to buy a few copies, and says her dad will frame one, but Anisa has no plans to pursue a jet-set modelling career. “It won’t change my life, and I don’t want to be a model,” she laughs. “I like my job.”

Read more on this story and watch a video about the key workers at Vogue online

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