at the top of the year, publications often hit the ground running with either the brightest celebrities or the baddest models. in the last year, i had become a bit tiresome of magazines. going to the newsstand, there was no point in me picking anything up, considering i had already seen every ad campaign, cover shot, feature editorial & everything else in every issue. this year, i would like to allow each of the covers to be held in one post, all together. thus, each cover would be given the opportunity to compete with one another. of this month, i’ve gathered covers of significant quality for the month of january to discuss & to select one favorite. as the beginning of the year for us, we usually look to january to spring into action for better habits, healthier habits. however, the fashion industry is still plugging away through spring ad campaigns, covers that were shot months ago & pushing fall clothes that are still being shipped to retail. listed in no particular order, these are some of the most outstanding covers at the top of the year. fashion doesn’t often pull out the big stops until september, which marks the entrance of the fall fashion season- but january covers still resemble the beginning of a new year, with mindful casting of each girl. on the covers, this is january.
ROSIE HUNTINGTON-WHITELEY FOR HARPER’S BAZAAR, UK shot by tom munro, rosie huntington-whiteley graces harper’s bazaar UK’s body issue. appearing here is rosie’s subscribers cover for the issue, three other newstand edition covers are also available. im always peeping who will grace the cover of the ‘body’ issue for any publication. in addition to the presence of politics, whether cultural or ethnic, it’s funny to see how bodies are either praised or bashed in the media. a beautiful model of successful endeavors, no doubt, rosie is one of the famed victoria’s secret angels & definitely has the body to command the presence. one aspect i’ve noticed in this new time, is the body type of this new flock of angels. remember back in the day when victoria’s secret was synonymous with curvaceous women, full busts & real bodies? by real i mean, you seen things move on the runway, there was womanly movement there- you don’t see that anymore. as seen with rosie, it seems as though the commercial market is leaning more towards lean bodies- though not all women have runway physiques. in the issue’s feature editorial, cathy kasterine styled rosie in a spree of bathing suits in honor of the body issue, while hair & make-up was done by ben skervin & pati dubroff. rosie’s signature pout is ever present by way of a candy coated lip throughout the shoot as tones of gold allow the sun to beam against her perfectly. though i love this cover, i wonder why a head shot was selected for the subscribers issue, considering it is the body issue.
MARYNA LINCHUK FOR VOGUE JAPAN surrounded by a warm beign masthead, maryna linchuk of ford models appears through the lens of giampaolo sgura for this vivavious cover of vogue japan. styled by anna dello russo, i’ve definitely seen more stunning covers; both styled by dello russo & modeled by linchuk. one of two covers linchuk shot for the month of january, there are a number of elements that seem a bit off here. it’s the pose, styling- usually when i see covers from vogue japan, i like them. i can often appreciate the stipped nature of vogue japan’s covers, considering that the feature editorial is usually much more intricate. the clean covers present well on the new stand & it almost keeps you guessing as to what direction they will take for the inside feature. one aspect that is lacking of this cover is maryna’s pose. one of my favorite features on maryn is her heart shaped jawline. in terms of photography & angle, this image cannot be the best shot of the session. suitably, covers should be striking- not contorted. when identifying less attractive covers, theres always this question of who is to blame. do you blame the model? the photographer? the stylist? all parties involved have demonstrated incredible skill in all aspects but this was not their best. i’ve come to appreciate maryna for her versatility as a model; let’s hope the editorial to follow is that much more dope, to make up for what was missed here. though not as impressive, im always juiced to see maryna land another cover, which is commendable anyway you look at it.
FLORENCE WELCH FOR BRITISH VOGUE shot by mario testino, front woman of florence & the machine, florence welch is an interesting character in the context of high fashion. a darling of mutliple fashion houses, florence’s vintage inspired style is suitable for a number of designers who are currently throwing themselves at her. gracing the cover of british vogue, labeled a ‘phenomenon’ – welch appears in sky blue silk, windswept hair, her green eyes looking surreal. the cover translates fantasy & is yet another example of how powerful a role women in music are playing, even at the front end of 2012. the work of testino has evolved greatly through the years & has, in some ways, become watered down & heavily commercialized. through testino’s work with american vogue & british, the retouch department seems to go a bit overboard. with every cover i’ve seen from vogue in collaboration with testino, the cover models- from michelle obama to this shot with florence; the person seems to heavily doctored. i love the surrounding elements- color of the surrounding text in contrast with the masthead, the styling. but why so heavy on the retouch? i appreciate a bit of lift underneath the eye or even an accentuation of eye color, but when the head of the cover model looks as though it has been completely transferred from image to another- somethings got to give. shout out to florence for landing the cover & for continuing her aims of domination into the new year. im sure florence’s feature will serve up the same sense of fantasy.
AYMELINE VALADE FOR VOGUE PORTUGAL another cover styled by anna dello russo, giampaolo sgura shoots aymeline valade of women model management. appearing in the same dress worn by beyoncé at the MET gala, last year; i was completely underwhelmed with this cover, the styling & this overall look. im not sure how well i respect anna dello russo as a stylist, i see how well she can dress herself but over the past couple of months, when looking closely at her work, i’ve been let down every time. her looks are, in ways, typical, predictable & usually over the top. it’s odd that someone who can display such versatility & excitement in their own style of dress falls flats elsewhere when styling. i may be jumping the gun but downplaying dello russo’s styling credibility, but there are no other major elements in this shot that could’ve distracted as heavily as the styling. it’s a plain backdrop, full frontal shot, lighting isn’t spectacular & the angle is simple. styling was the make or break element of this cover & here, dello russo lost it. of french nationality, aymeline is an interesting model & shout out to her for landing the cover but this shot, for january, was not it. that said, valade has an emphasized presence on the runway & in editorial, another cover in her portfolio is commendable. nothing special, but a regal attempt for a january cover. i always consider duplication of complete looks to be taboo in many cases. whether a recreation of a full runway look, or even a red carpet look, it’s as if there is a lack of effort on part of the stylist. this lack of effort in this particular case is on part of dello russo in opting for this look, for this cover.
MING XI FOR VOGUE CHINA asian models made quite a splash in high fashion in the last year & that pattern continues for the new year. ming xi of ford models, appears for vogue china’s first issue of the year. vibrant red surrounds ming as she appears with a short black pixie cut looking adorable as ever. i love the side/shoulder shot- it creates an opposition in comparison to other more typical cover shots which often opt for the usual headshot. i love how the chinese characters look with the vogue masthead. shot by li qi, ming is one of the top asian female models who is a regular on the covers of asian fashion publications. as one of the few that act as gatekeepers within the group of top asian in fashion, ming is thrown into the mix when liu wen, tao okamoto or shu pei aren’t gracing covers. though this cover is nothing groundbreaking or even new, the simplicity speaks loud & clear. i love the slight shadow that is seen to the left of ming’s back & her blunt cut pixie adds the right amount of clean shape that is mirrored in this shot’s silhouette. strong cover for january, not for it’s outlandsish styling but for the choice to create something much more tamed & refined. i’ll take subtlety over the complex, stylistically, any day. we’ll definitely have to see whether the featured editorial that accompanies the cover is an extension of this shot or a complete departure. what i love about vogue china is that they represent for asian models, putting them on the cover to further enforce the presence of asia in the market through model presence. a masteful plan that has helped reinvigorate the asian luxury market.
LADY GAGA FOR VANITY FAIR among the covers annie lebovitz has shot for vanity fair, it almost seems as though her photography style has become far too normalized. while i’ve seen probably a million shots of her work, this cover she shot of lady gaga for vanity fair is one of my favorites. of the many musical female figures today, lady gaga is a photographers dream for the simple fact that she isn’t afraid to push the limits. the voluminous hat, the continental sized dress to match- leibovitz captures gaga beautifully & not even just that, artistically. as widely credible a performance artist as gaga, the image is both refined while still being creatively provocative. never one to be short of opportunities for press or a cover shot- gaga continues to raise the bar in the exploration of greater photography & styling collaborations. i love that even vanity fair, which i view as more high society than other publications, has taken the opportunity more than once to feature gaga in tremendously inventive ways. definitely raising the bar for what women in music can attain as far as public image. today, in music, lady gaga has lead the way for women have such a powerful presence- almost to the sense of being superhumans. bright wigs, props as tops, alter egos- its all been done in music by women, in the last year & no one has done it greater than lady gaga. this cover is yet another prime example of how well received gaga is among mainstream america, as well as in creative communities. styled by jessica diehl, with hair & make-up by orlando pita & james kaliardos; gaga continues at the top of the year landing this remarkable cover & im sure many more will follow through 2012.
MARYNA LINCHUK FOR VOGUE SPAIN shot by vincent peters, maryn linchuk appears for her second vogue cover for the month of january. paying tribute to grace kelly, maryna was styled to represent the iconic princess of monaco, grace kelly’s effortless style. romantic & ulta-classic persona, soft elements were used to accent the image perfectly as linchuk appears stunning as ever. a polar opposite of her vogue japan cover, the styling & contrasting elements don’t seem as awkward or unnatural, it’s more more elegant & seamless with this image. the photography of vincent peters always has a much more sensual feel & in staying true to that visual signature is clear here. in the issue, the tribute to kelly continues as vincent peters manages to capture some grace kelly inspired looks through the styling of barbara baumel. overall, the cover is delicate, much like grace kelly’s elegance. being more of a minimalist, i pay greater attention to details, which mean i weigh the value of a cover shot on the publications placement of text as well. here, usually they are a bit heavy with it, vogue españa pulls back a bit on the overuse of text. demonstration of maryna’s versatility as a model is made that much more apparent for the month of january in comparing both of her covers. i always say, the single most important quality a model can have is versatility. as one of my favorite faces in fashion, maryna’s star shines brightly at the top of the year with her double cover booking. hoping to see much more of her on the covers & in editorial this year.
ROONEY MARA FOR DAZED & CONFUSED actress rooney mara of ‘the girl with the dragon tattoo’ continues to build a presence on the magazine circuit. beginning with her first cover for W magazine at the front end of 2011, since that time mara has appeared for allure magazine, this cover for dazed & confused, in addition to landing a vogue cover. seen for vogue’s november issue last year; her upward climb to making a name for herself seems to be in full effect. already working with some of the most credible of style publications, rooney seems to be a favorite for creatives who hold back nothing when using her a piece of their creative visions. styled by karen langley for this cover, the actress is seen in a mcqueen head piece with a slink laced top; its all very dazed & confused. shot by glen luchford, i feel as though the cover would have had much more depth if the lighting was a little less harsh. every cover i’ve seen of rooney, photographers play up her pale skin tone & this cover remains in that lane. i think covers are an outstanding way to put yourself out there, but why duplicate an image by coasting along the same aesthetic guidelines set by previous photographers? while i do find it necessary to note mara’s reception on the magazine front, i don’t feel that this cover is fucking with her vogue shot, per se. considerable, W & vogue are the top magazines in terms of representing style, in my opinion. dazed has that, almost independent feel- they are seemingly much more free from creative constraints, which you would think would hinder the creative process at both vogue & W but no, doesn’t seem that way in looking at this cover. perhaps the direction was intended to show some form of constraint? inside the issue, the featured article on mara continues to mystify readers with her presence, as the words “who’s that girl” float along the page with mara dressed in a black cape against a stone grey wall. whether an attempt to further create a buzz through mystery or not, i would’ve liked to see an elevated level of creativity shown, with lighting & styling. have you not seen how transformed mara was for her role in ‘girl with the dragon tattoo’? almost unrecognizable. an american actress, mara is definitely an interesting character to watch & will likely move into 2012 generating an even greater buzz beyond the covers & silver screen.
KARLIE KLOSS FOR NUMÉRO another american female making waves, karlie kloss, continues her high fashion domination as one of fashion’s leading faces on the cover of numero. her presence is, yet again, elevated as she appears windswept through the lens of greg kadel. represented by next models ny, karlie closed out 2011 on the cover of italian vogue & enters the top of the new year with this cover for the french publication, numéro. elevating her editorial presence & showcasing a new range of versatility in photographic performance- karlie kills most of what she does. while the angle or position of her head could’ve been better photographer or better posed; i grativtate towards images that capture movement. case in point, this cover is one of the most striking of january, in my opinion. the slightly arched back & placement of her own hand- perfect. the sky serving as backdrop that sets her hair on fire- incredible. also from the united states, i’ve always loved the work of greg kadel- his use of color is both vivid & imaginative, as seen with this cover. kloss & kadel combined make for quite a show with this cover & the featured spread for this cover extends more of what was seen here. styled by elizabeth sulcer with hair & make-up by raymond mclaren & maki ryoke- karlie appears in this issue as a wild child. styled in insane heels & lavish fur with sequins to top it off, karlie is definitely coming into her own as a woman & model- this cover is symbollic of her liberation. while i don’t often agree with models who are under 18 entering into the internation model scene, i do think it’s interesting to see someone blossom in front of your very eyes. i consider karlie kloss to be one of those long lasting icons, in the lane of kate moss, but as an american model. her naturally lean physique & sweet american girl presence make her a favorite among readers & fashion spectators.
HILARY RHODA FOR NUMÉRO TOKYO japan is often associated with fantasy, in my mind- whether their famed animation, their approach to marketing or the concepts of their editorials. there is a greater, much more imaginative approach felt through what japan puts out, in comparison to things here in the states or in any place in the world. culturally, magazine covers mirror what appeals to certain audiences in certain regions & while looking at covers much more closely over the past four years, i’ve been able to differentiate how each region differs. the multi-color masthead, combined with the fairy-tale fair skinned hilary rhoda almost look like a modernized interpretation of snow white. the red lip, her blue eyes- i can easily see why this would be selected as a cover of a japanese publication. it is such a close representation of simulated perfection. i was very surprised to see hilary grace this cover for numéro tokyo as they spare no feelings when selecting their favorite girls from month to month. shot by alexi lubormirski, the cover is shot in studio, much like other numéro tokyo covers are. while the shot itself is not bad, it’s not particularly good either. the multi-color masthead doesn’t act as a contrast to the image, noor does it fit cohesively. with the words ‘luminous’ seen on the cover, that theme is not played out anywhere either. while i understand the need to have a clean opener, in the form of a cover, each month- i do feel that there is a certain disconnect & lack of creativity in the production of such bland shots month by month. though japanese publications differ from those in the states, im sure that most human reaction to beautiful covers is somewhat relative. where is the glamour? glad to see hilary land a cover, but consistently underwhelmed with the cover itself.
XIAO MENG HUANG FOR NUMÉRO CHINA of the most fresh in fashion publication, numéro china has considerably raised the bar for themselves each month, with each cover. at the top of the year, the chinese publication casts xiao meng huang in this beautifully conceptualized, grey-scaled cover. shot by shot by yin chao, the cover is intended to stylishly represent, lust & does well in it’s mission. decked in diamond encrusted accessories & armed with sunglasses & sunhat- xiao blazes onto the cover as a relatively unknown. as the market becomes increasingly more open for asian models in fashion, more & more females seem to be coming out to get their share of the spotlight. i love the balance of the black & white image against the golden masthead & expect something even that much more stunning beyond the issue’s cover. only in print since 2010, numéro china continues to defy the odds & break barries while keeping us on our toes with their choice models, photographers & concepts. i’ve come to expect only the best from this publication & this month they deliver as expected. a tremendously strong cover to enter the new year with, the nudity is done in a classy manner & even nude, no ounce of style is left unrepresented. the strategic placing of hands keeps you on the edge of your seat, thinking that with one slight move, lust will be exposed. in comparison to other covers this month, this one shines a little brighter. now on the radar, i wouldn’t be surprised to see xiao circling the asian, high fashion editorial realm more than once throughout 2012.
ANGELINA JOLIE FOR MARIE CLAIRE as a long time member of team aniston, i wanted to hate this cover. i don’t think angelina’s lips are that spectacular, nor do i agree with her being as sexy as everyone talks her up to be; her style is mediocre & she has hands that look like they belong to the crypt keeper. all that said, jolie’s cover reminded me a great deal of covers we seen in the late 80’s & into the early 90’s- the clean head shot, voluminous hair, perfectly applied make-up. there’s no denying, even for marie claire, that this is a stunning cover. shot by alexei hay, with styling by alison edmond, the cover offers a stunning, subtle serving of beauty that is not often seen on covers. the contrast of the blue with the brown & the elements of gold which are seen in the shots accessories- all that makes for a winning combination & a strong entrance into the new year. while im not entirely clear as to why angelina needs to be on this cover, considering that 2011 was only filled with her doing voice overs for kung fu panda, i am extremely interested in the casting of jolie in malificent. with direction by robert stromberg, the film, which is slated for a 2013 release, will take a modernized angle on the sleeping beauty fable. without a doubt, jolie has the sinister role down; but the cover shamefully tries to talk up her directing gigs & blah, the bullshit she keeps putting in the press about marriage- “i could get pregnant again” the cover quotes. while i won’t take this opportunity to dump all my personal feelings about jolie’s homewrecking, hoe-backbending tendencies, i will gracefully commend the team that worked to produce this cover. a vivid beauty shot that shifts my perception of jolie, ever so slightly. but she still ain’t fuckn with jennifer aniston, who was ranked the sexiest woman of all time.
SCARLETT JOHANSSON FOR INTERVIEW continuing down their usual path to greatness, atop the new year, interview magazine shot actress, scarlett johansson for their january cover. a loved cover girl & cosmetic face, in fashion, scarlett always turns out a stunning cover. through the lens of sølve sundsbø with styling by ludivine poiblanc, scarlett appears heavily retouched but no less stunning. i’ve long admired the sundsbø & was very surprised to see that he shot this cover; usually a name i see associated with international editions of vogue or numero, this cover marks a raised bar for sølve, as his work continues to be much more visible on a greater editorial stage. as for scarlett, she has been contracted as the cosmetic face of dolce & gabbana’s cosmetic collection, mango in spain & is also a contracted face for moet & chandon- which has her face plastered on billboards, in magazine advertisements & in store visuals across the globe. in addition to her contracted advertising/modeling work, johansson continues to dominate film, doubling as a triple threat or personality, beauty & demonstrated skill. with two films currently in post production upon entering 2012 & one film iron man 3, in pre-production; there looks to be no end in sight for this actress & it’s understandable why one would grant her the opportunity for a cover. scarlett closed out 2011, appearing for the december cover of vanity fair & enters the new year strong, seen here, for interview. while i don’t often support celebrity covers, scarlett is one of the more successful actresses to merge fashion, beauty & film, perfectly. she exemplifies true celebrity, in representing boundless opportunity from every avenue. a congratulatory shout-out to sølve, for shooting this cover as well.
CANDICE SWANEPOEL FOR HARPER’S BAZAAR ESPANA as the lead angel of the VS pack, candice swanepoel continues to build a reputable name for herself in high fashion landing the january cover of harper’s bazaar, spain. shot by koray birand, i love the use of lighting, the balmain she’s rocking & the stylized placement of text. overall, the shot is not a typical cover shot, which is one of the reasons i love it. represented by IMG models, candice is from south africa & boasts a pretty hefty model portfolio that ranges pretty wide in the fashion, both commercial & high end. i anticipate a stronger presence for candice in 2012, considering this cover as her first of the new year. of the victoria’s secret model cast, past & present, there have been a few who have really made a name for themselves past the lingerie & i see that candice got next. with the likes of tyra banks, heidi klum, gisele, alessandra ambrosio & adriana lima- candice will be the next VS angel to taken flight & she’s already began to spread her wings. 2011 was a strong year for swanepoel, she booked campaigns for versace, tom ford & walked the runway for stella mccartney, giambattista valli, jean paul gaultier & chanel while appearing for 7 magazine covers, internationally- all while holding it down with her contract for victoria’s secret. covering the windows & interior of locations, nationwide, at victoria’s secret- this cover continues to solidify candice’s high fashion presence while allowing her to become even more visible, internationally. already a star, candice will continue to shine onward & past 2012, im sure.
FRANCA SOZZANI FOR INDUSTRIE representing for the faces behind the faces of high fashion, terry richardson photographed franca sozzani of vogue italia for the publications FW11 cover. as the editor-in-chief of italian vogue, franca has been at the helm of the italian fashion mag since 1988. an unprecedented level of creativity, style & innovation has been produced by the magazine, under the direction of sozzani. in her decision to allow world famous fashion photographer, steven meisel, to shoot every single cover for the magazine; this move has allowed vogue italia to be celebrated as the best edition of vogue. mirroring social issues & taking fashion to new heights of creativity while always projecting the best of style, sozzani is an industry icon. in 2008, italian vogue created the historical, “all black issue” which focused on bringing a needed focus upon black models of the past & the future together. that issue brought a great deal of attention to color lines which currently exist in fashion & was the catalyst for my intense interest in high fashion, models & the runway. the all black issue brough toccara jones, formely of america’s next top model, out as the first plus sized female model to appear in a high fashion publication. while advertisers have labeled black models as ‘unsellable’, despite photographers requests to work with them, it was sozzani who proved them all wrong. italian vogue’s all black issue became the highest selling issue of italian vogue ever & ran out of print- twice. the all black issue was the only issue in the history of condé nast, vogue’s publisher, to be reprinted to satisfy an overwhelming demand. sozzani has had a remarkable tenure at italian vogue, as editor-in-chief; she has represented an artistic approach to high fashion & plays by her own rules that are in a league all their own. im very excited about this issue & love that franca landed this cover. while the cover itself is not breathtaking, it represents a real sense of value.
CAREY MULLIGAN FOR W charming is how i would describe the january cover of W magazine, featuring actress, carey mulligan. shot by michael thompson, im always easily smitten with covers that evoke a sense of femininity, poise & of course, good lighting. im a sucker for a powder puff pink mast head & have a soft spot for anything grey- all elements which were beautifully applied to this cover. an actress from the united kingdom, i’ve noticed mulligan’s increased presence on magazine cover since 2010. through 2010 & into 2011, mulligan has appeared for wonderland, interview, american vogue, british elle & for this cover, for the month of january 2012. getting her start alongside keira knightley in 2005’s pride & prejuidice, mulligan has developed a lengthy resume which ranges from unknown television roles to big silver screen features. currently filming the great gatsby, which is slated to hit theatres this year; it seems as though publications are on to something we’re not. at least not yet, anyways. with a few movie roles in the works, mulligan seems to be next in line as yet another actress who is loved by fashion. her adorable pixie cut look is highly favored & makes for a good fit in high fashion, which some of the biggest fashion houses. this cover seems to make an attempt to break mulligan free of her good girl image, though it attempts to do so innocently. one of my favorites for the month of january, W always delivers a strong cover & i’ve come to expect this of them. the exposed undergarments & the slight profile shot- picture perfect.
LILY COLE FOR VOGUE RUSSIA shot by anthony maule, doll faced model lily cole appears in my favorite cover for the month of january. cole is considered a model icon & has had an active modeling career since the age of 14. styled by ekaterina mukhina, with hair & make-up by neil moodie & gemma smith-edhouse; lily continues to solidly perform on covers & in recent years has made ventures into film. with her deep blue eyes penetrating into the transparent balenciaga brimmed visor, that dark lip & her signature red hair- all so vividly stunning in this shot. it’s models like cole that transcend the said shelf life of models in the industry. when looking at covers, i tend to lean more towards cleaner shots- free from over-styled looks, obnoxious props or overbearing text; this cover is kept simple & remains the most chic of all the covers this month. as a strong opener to the new year, im hoping to see more of lily on covers & on the editorial front, considering her noticeable absence in the last year. with this cover, lily stole the show- from a high fashion stand point.
setting the tone for the rest of the year to follow, fashion week is rapidly approaching, with menswear & couture taking their marks to walk the runway in a few days this month. whether actresses or models, unknowns & those on the come-up; magazine publications have taken a greater, much more artistic approach to covers. evident in covers that were written about here, there is a greater fusion of high end art with high fashion, which is having everyone not only clamoring for these covers- but hoping to be on them. with my own hopes of seeing more models on covers seems to be a very distant dream, im looking for answers as to why these actresses are stiff arming our beloved model mistresses. while i’ve always watched covers closely, this year will see me taking a closer look as to why these women are chosen for these covers & why. as the front end of the new year enters quickly into the chaos of show season; we will see how covers shape shift over the next couple of months. at the close of this year, with all of our observations noted, we will have a greater sense of what makes it truly takes to be a cover girl.