At the time of writing this, as the coronavirus crisis continues to take hold, I am at home in London living a new lockdown routine that many of you will be familiar with in the UK and across the world. It is crystal clear now that we must all do our bit and stay home, a duty that we take very seriously here at British Vogue. I am lucky to be with my partner and my dog, to be able to take a daily walk, often early in the morning when it’s quietest, and to make occasional, socially mindful trips to the supermarket. The May issue had already gone to press by the time the true scope of the coronavirus had been felt in the UK, but work at the magazine very much continues. Where once there were meetings in my office in Mayfair, now there are Zoom conference calls from all the Vogue editors’ homes as the magazine marches on, just as it did through two world wars.

In these past few weeks – weeks that, many have noted, feel like a decade in themselves – a new landscape has already emerged. It can feel overwhelming at times, and I worry deeply for the mental health impact on everyone, as well as the physical one. We all have a keen sense that we are living through history and, rightly, life can often feel filled with fear. Yet there is still hope. I have been so moved by the extraordinary acts of kindness, both large and small, we have all been seeing in our communities.

Take this month’s cover star Robyn Rihanna Fenty. As the pandemic swept the globe, the Clara Lionel Foundation – the non-profit organisation founded by Rihanna – pledged to distribute a $5 million donation from the singer to front line relief for victims around the world. But then Rihanna has always been one to push things forward. Did I, for example, ever imagine that I would see a durag on the cover of Vogue? No, reader, I did not.

The durag, a potent symbol of black life – of self-preservation, resistance and authenticity – has an important place in popular culture, yet it is rarely viewed through the prism of high fashion. Yet there is the most fabulous, aspirational and beautiful durag on the cover of this month’s magazine. It takes a person of extraordinary charisma to pull off such a moment, a woman I am lucky enough to count among my closest creative collaborators.

What I love about Rih is that it’s always new territory, which is thrilling – not to mention a huge task. For this month’s shoot, she wanted “Rihanna for a new decade.” We worked through a substantial archive of visual references (her fashion and cultural knowledge is encyclopaedic) to find a new proposition. Then suddenly, at 2am, my phone pinged with the latest WhatsApp: “How about we go with a durag?”

In the cover shoot, which was photographed by Steven Klein, you will find a vision of a powerful black woman in her prime, unencumbered by the strict gender binary rules of the past. As part of the styling, I was keen to dismantle the set of codes that have been prescribed for womanhood for too long. On recent catwalks – Valentino, Maison Margiela and Random Identities spring to mind – the intoxicating mood was non-binary and future facing. It felt like an important shift.

The shoot is also infused with Buffalo style – Ray Petri’s 1980s British movement in fashion and music – that epitomised the search for, and elevation of, personal identity through clothes. Alongside the reimagining of gender norms, Rihanna has donned an armour that is apt for now. As she tells writer Afua Hirsch in the accompanying profile, “I’ve done all the hits, I’ve tried every genre – now I’m just, I’m wide open. I can make anything that I want.”

Elsewhere in the issue, we offer an exclusive insight into the theatrical event of the year with its leads 85-year-old Eileen Atkins and Timothée Chalamet, one of the most in-demand young actors working today. They give Olivia Marks the inside story on their play, 4000 Miles, at The Old Vic, that was due to go on in April. Now postponed until theatres reopen, the anticipation feels even more sky high.

Meanwhile, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin grants us an audience in Helsinki. In December, she became the youngest female head of government on earth. Not only is this millennial mother leading her homeland through the corona crisis but into a new era, redefining what it means to be a politician and a parent.

Lastly, in Beyond The Horizon, we have a fashion story shot in Australia at the end of 2019, just before the bushfires that shocked the world started to fully rage. In the wake of the monumental damage they caused, I can only marvel at the nation’s resilience. I felt honoured to work on the story with three Australian women: photographer Emma Summerton, model Adut Akech and Edwina McCann, editor-in-chief of the country’s Vogue, whose impassioned essay sits with the shoot. It’s clear, now more than ever, that our world is a fragile place – and we urgently need to protect it.