by Jeremy Danté

magazine covers are at the forefront of culture and act as the face of what we’ve done, are doing and where we are going. in gloss, we see our human history through entertainment playing out in front of our very eyes. with last years count in mind; there has been a concentrated focus on diversification. with regard to mainstream media and television, actress kerry washington’s role in the ABC television political drama, scandal, sparked a wildfire for what television actors of color were able to book. directly visible in covers of the last two years, kerry herself graced the covers of vanity fair and elle, as a result. last years surprise release by beyonce also sparked trends in music which filtered into this year. the center focus of content here is driven by music, fashion and film; all of which are highlighted and seen in this year’s selection. each cover has been selected for it’s cultural impact and reflection of style. whether it was #1 singles, top billing motion pictures or fashion domination; transformation and diversity ruled the year in glossies.

2020. PHARRELL FOR BRITISH GQ, OCTOBER through the lens of hunter & gatti, solo artist of the year, per gentlemen’s quarterly UK; pharrell kick starts this years top 20 countdown. one of two covers in a series shared with kim kardashian, the cover was styled by carlyne cerf de dudzeele, with hair and make-up by serge normant and jeanine lobell; production of the shoot was handled by bo zhang. released during the fourth quarter of 2013, “happy” was produced, written and performed by williams for the despicable me 2 soundtrack. by the first quarter of 2014, “happy” reached the top of the US billboard hot 100. no stranger to hot hits on the charts, this was a particularly special recording for pharrell as this was his first solo #1 pop single. topping the hot 100 airplay chart, the song and it’s infectiousness became a global mainstay for the rest of 2014. a 24hr music video campaign was conceptualized, shot and debuted which seen the popularity of the song spike further, spawning thousands of tribute videos across the globe. landing 40 #1 chartings around the world and recieving a nomination for the academy awards, “happy” has sold over 12 million copies worldwide and is certified six-times platinum here in the united states. a well deserved cover for pharrell, who has spent more than a decade in the recording industry.

1919. KATE MOSS FOR BRITISH VOGUE, DECEMBER the anti-supermodel who became a supermodel icon. kate moss is a rarity in the fashion industry and has paved the way for models to really be themselves. with the entrance of kate in the fashion industry, it was as if aging became acceptable. suddenly, women became celebrated for who they are not who the media wants them to be. controversy of the past now behind her, kate remains one of the most iconic faces from the 90’s era. groomed alongside naomi campbell, christy turlington and linda evangelista; kate’s dominance is to credit for her outstanding style, business ventures with brands like topshop and her unstoppable booking record. she has remained consistently visible this year, and not just for the brits but for the world, everyone knows that she takes sellability to a whole new level. the cover is also one of my favorites for it’s composition. the blurred image goes against commercial appeal, and the single eye and tousled hair represents a true definitiveness of kate’s allure- which is based on effortlessness. shot by mario testino, kate has become an icon of london style, with her signature bohemian aesthetic.

1818. PHOEBE PHILO FOR T, FEBRUARY true to this years theme of transformation, no one has transformed the ways that we see womenswear more drastically as that of phoebe philo. the genius behind the reinvention of french fashion powerhouse, céline; philo stole the show through subtlety this year when she graced the cover of T, the new york times style magazine. shot by karim sadly, the headline reads: “the woman who knows what women want”, and that could not be any more true. whether she was expanding silhouettes, or lengthening hemlines; philo has completely re-interpreted the ways that women dress and their desires. from winged handbags to turtle necks and camel coats- this year, philo even made birkenstock style sandals en vogue while adding to them fur and metallic straps. her magical method of design and/or re-design are not to go unnoticed and this cover celebrated her beautifully, in an understated way that aligned perfectly with her own design aesthetic. as céline enters china, and the luxury market there becomes more accustomed to minimalism, the brand invites consumers into a world of strict glamour, free from frills or logo mania of the past. one of my personal favorites, for it’s striking simplicity.

1717. THE SUPERMODELS FOR VOGUE ITALIA, SEPTEMBER the lens of steven meisel has made many a star in the fashion industry, and this anniversary cover was a graphic reminder of that. shot in sepia, supermodels of the past and present were involved in this group cast fold out cover which celebrated italian vogue’s 50th anniversary. celebrating it’s 50 years, through photo direction by godon von steiner; adriana lima, amanda murphy, amber valletta, anna ewers, aymeline valade, cameron russell, candice huffine, candice swanepoel, caroline trentini, carolyn murphy, christy turlington, cindy bruna, coco rocha, edie campbell, elise crombez, fei fei sun, guinevere van seenus, hilary rhoda, isabeli fontana, jessica stam, joan smalls, jourdan dunn, julie stegner, karen elson, karlie kloss, linda evangelista, liu wen, miranda kerr, naomi campbell, natalia vodianova, natasha poly, ophelie guillermand, raquel zimmermann, rianne van rompaey, sasha luss, sasha pivovarova, saskia de brauw, stella tennant and vanessa axente were all shot for one cover. unprecedented, undoubtedly; the cast speaks for itself as italian vogue continues to pave the way for conceptual covers and editorial, as a leader in the world of high fashion publication. amazing, all these women together for one cover.

16. ANNA EWERS FOR FRENCH VOGUE, AUGUST there are few covers that stop me in my tracks, but this cover, this year- did just that. it’s that reaction that makes you sit up and say, “who is that girl?” anna ewers sealed her fate as a top model when she graced the august cover of french vogue through the lens of mert + marcus. styled by edward enninful, emmanuelle alt, with hair and make-up by shay ashuai and yadim, the cover is everything that glamour is poraited to be in the world of high fashion. as an august cover, there was no cover that was hotter. the neon masthead, the PVC raincoat- the red lip, the bleached brow. it was perfect. i needed to select one truly high fashion cover for my countdown, as many of my selections are impending on their cultural relevance. high fashion has this way of sitting back, and but this cover erected our posture. it’s pure glamour, high times and felt very fashion. in a way that continues to drive the industry. from model booking, to photographic composition- this is without a doubt the best cover that has come from french vogue, since the appointment of emmanuelle alt, as editor-in-chief. gone are the days when carine roitfeld was burning the newsstands with her covers, but this shit right here shows progress. it’s french vogue, was distinctively american with it’s use of body language, sports cars and yes, neon. in fashion, this is the dopest cover of the year. however, due to it’s confined fashion influence, it’s rank may not appear to reflect such greatness.

1515. MILEY CYRUS FOR W, MARCH as each year passes, i always look for the great transformation cover of the year. miley cyrus, though the lens of mert alas and marcus piggott, styled by edward enninful was the absolute best transformation cover of the year. with hair and make-up by orlando pita and lucia prone, cyrus was seen as a platinum blonde clad only in diamonds and bed sheets. while i won’t cite myself as a fan of miley, particularly; i do recognize her performance as a pop fixture, complete with gimmicks, press headlines and covers like this. beautifully done, cyrus is almost unrecognizable; which is likely my reason for adoring it so much to include it in this years top 20. W has become one of my favorite publications, and through the efforts of edward enninful, the publication has seen drastic creative output, at a level that raises the bar for publications around the globe. miley has managed to create a spot for herself on the music scene, using her dad’s last name to penetrate middle america, while simultaneously commodifying aspects of black culture or hip-hop, such as twerking, to further stake claim as an act who, know doubt, understands the power of acting. with little people, kittens and blow up penises being a part of her tour, this cover stripped it all away and drew everything to pure glamour. as popular as she is, miley booked other covers, but the transformative quality of this make-over was her best.

1414. KATE MOSS FOR PLAYBOY, JANUARY leave it to mert + marcus to elevate the visage of playboy magazine, one of the oldest male publications in the business. supermodel icon, kate moss jump started this year, becoming a playboy bunny on the january cover for the men’s entertainment mag. classically dressed in black and white, against a grey studio backdrop; the cover is a beautiful photograph outside of being a striking cover. it adds sophistication to the most sexual publication of all time. there is a coy, subtle and matured sensibility about this cover. of course, kate moss’ star power is among the brightest in the industry, and this cover could not have been more perfect. it was done tasteful, all while celebrating the 60th anniversary with this special edition. the put, the satin ears, and those heels- it was all crafted and came together magically. a true sense of editorial beauty here. the white masthead perfectly accentuates the white bunny tail and even the white cuffs. kate is an icon of icons, and here, she raised the bar, even for her own level of performance. the beauty of editorial and magazine covers in particular, is that you cannot plan the chemistry of captured moments. you can plan the talent, which were all present here, but the placement of a leg, or a heel, the outifitting of certain looks- this cover is proof of effortlessness beauty that kate moss so greatly, and ambitiously is able to communicate in front of a lens.

1313. NAOMI CAMPBELL FOR VOGUE AUSTRALIA, MAY as the face of fashion, there is no female model more iconic than naomi campbell. this year alone, she booked a staggering 17 magazine covers that were sold internationally. as an industry veteran, she continues to dominate. entering territory of television executive production in the last year, her empire and cultural relevance seems to grow. this feat is almost unimaginable as campbell has remained at the top tier of fashion for over 25 years. the headline, “facing a new era”, couldn’t have been used any better. for this special collectors edition cover, campbell appears fit as ever, defending her title as one of the greatest female models of all time. she has risen through trials and year after year continues to become the most visible of her contemporaries and friends in the industry. walking regularly in runway shows, continuously booking campaigns while remaining no stranger to the world of publication, there is absolutely no other woman like naomi campbell, nor can there ever be before or after her. a living legend, and i love this cover for simple reasons. the red, white and blue colorization of the cover is well balanced against the stoned backdrop. perfectly shot through the lens of emma summerton, i cannot wait to see what lies ahead for naomi in 2015.

1212. RIHANNA FOR VOGUE, MARCH american vogue is such a dichotomy. while there exists an excitement for who books the cover. the stiffly political decision to put individuals on that cover seems to cloud the creative potential of such bookings. rihanna is a rarity. a modern pop star who has strong footings in areas of urban popular music as well as hip-hop; her fashion portfolio continues to grow as her styling choices appear more iconic year by year. styled by mel ottenberg, rihanna is a style icon. she can transform high end looks and re-claim them with streetwear in this american way. american in the way of combined influences, all while she maintains her signature island girl realness. her takeaway from the islands is really about showcasing a carefree attitude that can be defined as nothing but pure confidence. that confidence reads through every cover she books, and is likely the reasoning for this years march american vogue cover to be her third for the publication.  shot by david sims, the cover appears to be a throwback to editor-in-chief, anna wintour’s debut cover for the mag, november 1988. the high end top matched with casual denim- the look of this cover, mirrored in wintour’s debut; a likely calculated move, through styling by american editor, tonne goodman. it’s fresh, and clean- direct and effective. discussing her influence in the editorial article accompanying the cover, rihanna is a star among stars. this years countdown is evidence of her importance to women, not just in music, but in entertainment and style all together.

1111. BEYONCE FOR CR FASHION BOOK, ISSUE 5 the industry will forever hold their breath waiting on the next move of megastar beyoncé knowles-carter. while other individuals on the list hold influence, and forecast light onto the culture; no one does so as powerfully as beyoncé. a personification of beyond, as a female she breaks all barriers and is still, criminally underrated. as a performer she is unstoppable. she magnifies simplicity in a way that makes you rethink what it means to be a woman in america, she seemingly blurs color lines while transcending to a higher playing field of what it means to be beautiful. her industry reputation of grace, poise and kindness go unquestioned, while her musical catalog and creative potential seem boundless. covering carine roitfeld’s CR fashion book, the megastar mother and wife of rap tycoon jay-z appeared in this really quiet form of glamour. under the art direction of stephen gan, and through the lens of pierre debusschere; beyoncé has found an individualized place in the spotlight of fame, transforming glamour into this attainable thing, that makes us all dream. within those dreams, we find possibility not difficulty. there is an inner shine that beyonce resonates totally, and thats what this cover represented to me, this year. the decesion to put her on the cover was a surprise to all, as her year was a trail blazed by her album, which she released by surprise last year.

1010. NAOMI CAMPBELL FOR INTERVIEW, SEPTEMBER an international symbol of beauty, naomi campbell is a woman of great importance not just to people of color, but all those who seek to define beauty. her face? completely timeless, one that is regarded for it’s existence in number of years in an unforgiving industry that, for her, found room to forgive. her persona in business? almost as unrelenting are her voice that speaks out about discrimination against models of color. the concept of facing challenges is one that has been discussed in campbell’s previous cover. she has seemingly resurfaced, while never really leaving the forefront, but in a way that her value seems to be more greatly recognized in our digital age. shot perfectly by mert + marcus, naomi appears as beautiful as ever, representing what black beauty is in the world of high fashion. campbell is the one and only icon in fashion that will live forever. while other names are forgotten, there are none as powerful as that of naomi campbell. as the new year approaches, her bookings are already lined up, as she prepares yet another year where the power of her presence shall be proven. rounding out the top 10 of this years top 20 magazine covers of the year; every single person of color on this list has naomi campbell to thank for receiving such high end visibility. it has been her work that has paved the way for each and every one of them. for as long as she is alive and booking covers, naomi campbell will always have a place of top rank among any and every countdown in this space.

99. RIHANNA FOR W, SEPTEMBER transformation is not a challenge for rihanna. she has successfully shape shifted into multiple dimensions with each album era she has dedicated her artistry to. the industry as a whole have finally taken a greater understanding of such skill. this year’s september issues took on a different spin. there seemed to lack a focus, almost meaning or representing this transition of a year. as a mid-level stage of a full stage change coming in the future. september is when publications pull out all the stops, and this cover was among the most brave. it was theatrical, and tribal in a way that showcased rihanna as a true transformer. beautiful make-up and stunningly tribal aesthetics took publication to a new height of cosmetics and thematic development. one of rhianna’s strongest covers to date, this cover showed how in love the world of style is with rihanna. as a performer, she is utilized by creatives and used as a canvas for an array of visions, ideas and power. with hair and make-up by yusef and kabuki, set design was handled by gerard santos, while mert + marcus shot the images expertly styled by edward enninful. I’m all for a strong concept, and there were very few covers, this year that pushed limitations that much further. the creative team considered, there could not have been as successful a cover without rihanna, a testament to her star power as someone who influences how we see beauty.

88. KANYE WEST FOR GQ, AUGUST among men, kanye west is a god. among women, kanye west is a god. with his yeezus album, marriage to american entrepeneur, kim kardashian and birth of his first child all happening in the last two years, all eyes focused on the creative superstar in a way that was unlike years past. as a lover of style in any form digestible or creative; kanye was in it. his life was the center of the article that accompanied his cover, and the accompanying editorial was pixel perfect. shot by patrick demarchelier, the editorial was printed proof of ye’s style consciousness. his style of dress, in particular, has spawned legions of fans and imitators. concerning the digital landscape, sites like tumblr and instagram are littered with images of kanye’s street style. of my countdown, this cover is among the more simple. handsome and without theatrics or special effects; it showcased kanye as the man that his is today. the man that he has evolved into. an accomplished performer, and among hip-hop’s most awarded; kanye graduated into a greater sensibility as a man. building a family and settling down in a way that felt necessary, following a few rough years following the passing of his mother, dr. donda west. a truly enjoyable experience it has been, and that of great inspiration to see what he has built for himself.

77. JOAN SMALLS & LIL BUCK FOR WSJ, NOVEMBER as a model who’s career into the supermodel stratosphere has been closely chronicled here, joan smalls and dancer lil buck for wall street journal magazine’s innovator issue was perhaps the most poetic cover of the year. added poetry to joan’s statuesque beauty, was lil buck’s mid air leg lift. as the fashion industry embraced technology more than ever before in the past year, publications really looked to video production as an aspect of greater development. born charles riley, lil buck began to appear for vogue’s youtube channel when i first began seeing him early this year on the scene. lil buck is a los angeles/las vegas based dancer, who is originally from memphis. catching heat after director spike jonze posted a youtube video of his dance work alongside yo-yo ma, buck began to reach superstardom and greater recognition on the fashion scene and creative industry. the cover, shot by daniel jackson, with styling by george cortina; is truly a magical blend of fashion and dance. joan has become one of the new supers, and is really an icon for international beauty, representing women of color around the world in just about every campaign imaginable. love this cover for it’s fusing of culture further. beautiful photographic composition, perfect positioning and outstanding representation of motion. buck is to credit for allowing a mainstream spotlight on the style of dance referred to as, jooking. in celebration of the issue, lil buck accompanied joan smalls to the wall street journal’s innovators awards, being awarded in the category of performing arts.

66. LAVERNE COX FOR TIME, JUNE trangendered and on the cover of time magazine. laverne cox broke barriers for those transitioning and those transitioned, essentially allowing for all of america to participate in a transition of it’s very own. representing transformation unlike any other cover that i’ve ever included in my countdown. this years count is directly reflective of culture, and delves into those pockets of truth exposing so much more beauty than that of what is seen in fashion. as one of the leading stars on the netflix series, “orange is the new black”; cox plays a transgendered female who is housed at an all-female prison. gripping and emotionally riveting, this role has earned her a spot in mainstream media, where transgendered individuals stand to be more comfortably received by those unexposed to the LGBT community, here in america. now a part of the female panel, on ‘the view’, laverne continues to defy the odds, representing the transgendered community in a way that is transformative of the ways that the american public views them. there is a bout of normalcy and reliability to her, thus creating a new wave of understanding for those who are faced with the transformative needs often called upon by those who find themselves born in the crosshairs of female and masculine anatomic form and psychology. a first of many;the efforts and public poise of laverne cox considered, ms. cox- we salute you.

55. LUPITA NYONG’O FOR PEOPLE, APRIL when lupita nyong’o stood in acceptance of the 2014 academy award for her role as patsy in the steve mcqueen film, “12 years a slave”. she tearfully championed, “your dreams are valid”. sending a message of transcendence that shattered color lines and revealed a new depth of beauty that changed the ways that audiences of film viewed women of color. in the film, her role as patsy was violently physical, as well as emotional; in interviews, nyong’o gave tearful accounts of her method acting process. often bringing a sense of humanity to her role, understanding that african-american’s of that time did not have the choice to be ‘out of character’ as she did. she cited that she will always carry with her, the role of patsy. her tearful victory at the 86th academy awards sparked glimmers in the eyes of many across just about every industry built on creativity. she was revealed as the most beautiful person by people magazine, a media milestone that launches the careers of many even further. she soon became revealed as the contract face for lancome cosmetics, and was also featured for a miu mii campaign, comfortably being seated front row at shows across the globe, most notably at the house of prada. what lupita did for women of color in the past year is honorable, she challenged the expectations of beauty; showcasing beauty that was distinctively african, while gently encouraging through grace, that the american public recognize it and feature it, as it has many other forms of commercial glamour in years past. this cover was a major move of PR that was well deserved and well played. lupita re-centered public acknowledgment of beauty from the inner, accentuated by an exterior of grace.

44. KANYE WEST FOR INTERVIEW, FEBRUARY conceptually representing the  performance persona of kanye west, his cover shot by steven klein for the february issue of interview represented in opposition, his GQ cover that would come later in the year. with his album, yeezus, came many comparisons, talks and representations to jesus christ. this cover represented crucifixion, or persecution in this appropriate way. kanye west, the artist is among the geniuses of our time and generation. his awareness of such character and creative abilities leaves many intimidated. the fire face, grill fronted cover shot further altered the ways that covers could be shot. in being mindful of transformation, as well as conceptual worth, this cover was a full force fulfillment of both categories. interview magazine, much like the work of kanye west, go on to challenge the pre-existing. both further alter the expectations of audiences in areas of style, aesthetic and theme. as we reach closer to the top spot, the covers that will follow challenge reaction from the public, are reflective of media and their biggest stars, and none have shined brighter than kanye west, since he beginnings in music. a start to a powerful year for him, this cover came as a pre-face for kanye’s wedding as he was more strongly positioned as, yes, one of our musical, style and creative generations great geniuses. his contributions to raising the bar for creativity have only just begun; in design, touring concepts and planning kanye west is just beginning.

33. KIM KARDASHIAN-WEST FOR PAPER, FW14 the magazine cover that broke the internet; kim kardashian has been the butt of many jokes since she burst onto the scene with her sex tape. since then, she has successfully managed to turn that negative press into an entrepreneurial compound that is fiercly guarded by her family, and mother, who manages all of the business. since the birth of her first child, and marriage to kanye west, the lead kardashian has elevated her visibility on the scene, becoming a serious fashion star, inspiring many by style of dress and showing more of herself in the process. the key to the success of the kardashian’s is that they own whatever flaws they are a part of in the public eye. this means, poking fun at aspects of exploitation, hollywood media speculation and not taking themselves to seriously. shot for paper magazine, jean paul goude has a way of taking turning extremes  into art forms. and so was the case when he called for kim to be oiled down and give the world exactly what they want- some ass. the armenian-american entrepenurial mega-star relished in the attention, especially after maintaining her physical goals post-baby. kim is a superstar of media, providing to have the midas touch, nothing can stop her- not in the world of fashion or business, or even on this year’s  countdown. her influence is undisputed.

22. THE WESTS FOR VOGUE, APRIL the only couple to receive a double feature, of a stand alone piece and a feature on this year’s countdown was the cover of kim kardashian and kanye west. shot by annie lebovitz, the world’s most talked about couple landed the most influential cover of all covers this year, appearing on the cover of the coveted american vogue. the epitome of influence in the global fashion community, this represented the first couple to grace the cover of the magazine, the first interracial couple to do so, and kanye west became the first rapper to land the cover, while kim became the first reality tv star to book such a feat. the cover represents a true glimpse at american diversification, directly altering the ways that we are represented as people. with her dominating television series, “keeping up with the kardashian’s”, and it’s many spin-offs; kim has spun off into the world of retail, designing collections for sears, expanding the family’s ‘dash’ boutiques across america, while landing cover after cover, more and more each year. kanye, the most valuable player in music today, represents even more success; most of which needs no introduction to readers here. both have a marvelously matched level of success in their own respective corners of the industry, and both run together in this marriage of sorts. this all happened before they wed in italy this year. they’re at every single runway show, they appear at every award show and are almost inescapable figures of the public. this cover was a mere reflection of their influence and frankly, was long overdue. well deserved, most relevant.

11. RIHANNA FOR LUI, the cover that got her banned from instagram. the ultimate music rebel, rihanna appeared on the cover of lui, as an exclusive through the lens of mario sorrenti. booking 11 covers for the calendar year, rihanna is the only individual on this years countdown to be featured three times- a testament to her success and relevance as well as her popularity in music and fashion. she was the face of balmain, in addition to being shot for additional ad campaigns for viva MAC cosmetics campaigns, there is no bigger star than rihanna in the music business. her transformative tendencies from album to album and campaign to campaign have earned her a top spot on this years countdown. her contribution to fearlessness for women in entertainment have been hailed and matched, by single sales as rihanna is the most downloaded musical artist in history. she has become even more successful with design collaborations, which have sold out in a matter of minutes and in 2015, she will be creative director of her own collections with sportswear label, puma. with word of a new album coming in the next few months, as well as her philanthropic efforts in hosting the diamond ball, which supports, improvement of quality of life in areas of health, education, arts and yes, culture. in working with rihanna’s founded, clara lionel foundation, named after her grandmother, rihanna grows each year, by album chart statistics, sales and cultural sensitivity to the world around her. awarded with the fashion icon achievement award from the council of fashion designers of america, this year no one proved to be more fearless than rihanna. while this cover is just one rank while she sits atop the charts and countdowns of many. a beautiful image, that again re-adjusts the way that women of color are seen in media. while daring, the image is not to be scoffed at for it’s nudity, rather praised for it’s bravery. a stunning cover and one of the most eye catching of the year. rihanna rounds out this year’s countdown as number one, for more than just this cover but for what she has done and will continue to do for women. through fearlessness, business know-how and by daring to be different through strength.

click here to view the top 20 covers of 2013
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