The time has come for us to gather in judgement of the September Issue covers. Content? Nah. Who has the time to trawl through 600 pages of ads? I haven’t really read a magazine cover to cover since the inaugural Porter with Gisele Bundchen. I still haven’t made it through that Gaga September Issue cover… no word of a lie. I’m a child of the 80s whose most formative years were the 90s when Magazines were more than just pictures of skinny models and it-girls on covers, it was about rebellion and essence, having something more to say, a social and political movement. Today’s industry is nothing like it was back in those days, and that is sad. Still, September Issues have become something of an icon in the fashion world and beyond, even more so with the movie that educated us on what actually goes into producing an epic September Issue. The September Issue of any fashion magazine worth its glossy pages at £5.00 and some change a pop, defines an editor’s talent and the publication’s vision. Its a nod to what’s coming, ushering in the new season and steering popular culture and branding a stamp on the it-girls of the moment.
So let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. VOGUE.
Come on Vogue
Vogue US- Kendall Jenner. Vogue OG’s are still mad at Anna Wintour for that Kim and Kanye cover so they’ll likely be mad at her for this cover too, but let’s face it, having a member of this family on a cover makes for a lot of talk. It doesn’t necessarily translate to sales, but it gets people talking and their attention. It is the job of every savvy editor to dictate the tone of pop culture, and guide the crowd there, Vogue held off for as long as possible with the Kardashian-Jenners, and sometimes I think there is a lesson to be learned from never going with the crowd and sticking to your guns somewhere in there. Anyway, for a September cover, this is flat. There is nothing new about Kendall Jenner her audience doesn’t already know, she is insta-famous, there is an access to her that Vogue and those other publications have no patent to. She is immediate so in some ways this issue was already old news by the time it hit the news stands. The cover is a throwback to the days of the Supers on covers but this is unoriginal. On the plus side, Kendall is a model on the front cover of a magazine something that happens few and far in between, but as a model Kendall she doesn’t stand out, she’s forgettable much like this cover.
Vogue UK- Cara Delevigne. I really don’t like Vogue UK, of all the Vogues its my least favourite, perpetually behind its US counterpart, like the uglier of the ugly step sisters, it is forever trying to disguise itself and cool and edgy when it is anything but. It lacks in a lot of respects, depth, culture, tone, relevance and like the it-girl it is simply redundant. That said, I dislike its recent September cover a little less than I do the Vogue US cover. I’ve seen this look before, this angle, this pose but somehow Cara makes it work-ish. Something happens when a model strikes a pose a moment that is captured in a snap shot that brings everything together, Cara does a good job of tying this all together. Whatever it is she is going for. Its a little pose-y but that’s a small price to pay for a semi decent cover.
Elle US, Cara Delevigne. I look at this over and I think, meh, especially when I compare it with the less meh cover of Vogue UK. Some models come on the scene and make a particular impact that shakes the industry, with the rise of Cara she caused a stir not necessarily a shake, her brows sparked a revolution all on their own, but this cover is more catalogue, its too commercial and almost christmas-y. The pose, the styling the hair the ear cuffs, the outfit, its too much. And doesn’t her hand look like it hurts just holding it there.
Elle UK, Kirsten Stewart. God help me this chick is so boring! She is the love child of beige walls and vanilla. Her films are boring, her commercials are boring… boring, boring, hella boring and this magazine cover is boring in all seven levels of beige walls boring. Funny thing is she looks more herself and her make up here is beautiful, nothing fancy, nothing crazy, its easy and fresh for September… Still, I cannot get into her. At all. I would much rather watch paint dry or count my eyelashes than watch any movie she stars in ever again. Trust me I watched Twilight.
Shades of pink
Instyle- Kerry Washington. I love Kerry, I love her in all kinds of ways that might be deemed crazy. I beyond love her. I don’t love this cover. Its too stark, too dark, too severe… And that pose, I am not sure it was the best pose for the cover. I hate the font and the font colour. Magazines tend never to know what to do with their cover stars these days and this needed more so much more. Instyle was going for something but they took a hard left into some other thing and lost it all in translation. The styling is flawless, the dress, what little we can see of it is cool, it might be even cooler, but the hair is a NO. I don’t know what it is I am meant to be falling in love with for September, this is not a September cover, its more March. And I hate that most times out of many, magazines always manage to fuck up a Kerry Washington cover, I mean come the fuck on guys!!
Marie Claire, Sarah Jessica Parker, this is what you want to make of it. Its very SJP and I suppose that is what you hope for when you shoot a magazine cover, that it captures an essence all your own and you don’t look like a stranger, which she doesn’t, but I am more concerned about the background- didn’t we do these colour mixes way back some five years ago?
Muted tones and beige couches
Porter, Edita Vilkivicuite, I don’t know who she is, I’ve never heard of her, I suppose I have catching up to do. But when it comes to Porter, I am still trying to define our relationship whilst I respect their content, its engaging and thought provoking and pushes the envelope somewhat, which is a refreshing tip from the insipid mess out there. On the covers however, I remain unconvinced. Joan Smalls has been their only model of colour since inception, apologies if I’m wrong, and I am not okay with that. To make a different you have to be the difference. Porter is not there yet. On the cover, I don’t know that I am affected in any way and that is bad because September should evoke some emotion, she looks tired and grumpy- was the that whole point? And the kitten… no.
Vanity Fair- Alicia Vikander. Black White and all things bland, Vanity Fair is a victim of its own tradition; stuck in a classic rot of being too classic. Like what the fuck is with the colouring of this background and damn that beige couch! Who has a beige couch in 2016? Who admits to having a beige couch let alone showing it on the cover of a magazine? They’ll probably say its not beige, its silver beige or pewter grey beige or whatever else beige who knows? But this is the very definition of Vanity Fair, always trying to out Vanity Fair itself and it succeeded because everything about this is as boring as that ugly couch. And so help me if I see one more side profile…
Up close, but not enough
Glamour US- Bella Hadid. When it comes to Bella Hadid I think about her as the lesser known Hadid and to a great extent the more powerful. I love this cover, she’s gorgeous, her eyes draw you in and she’s so close she’s almost in front of you. Its passion and drive and fierceness but in another vein its slick and cool. She’s dewy as if she just took a shower or ran for the buss and quickly had to take a selfie because… just because. On the newsstands that is easily the most striking cover yet so little is happening on it. Its powerful with such a simple move, while the close up is hardly my favourite type of magazine cover, I like to see much more without a lot going on, Hadid draws you in so you cannot help but focus on her before you move on to the other stories.
Essence, Uzo Aduba. I really want to love this cover, but let’s face it I am too obsessed by this cover that its almost too hard to top it. This cover is safe and if it was a deliberate attempt to make this more relatable then they succeeded, but its the September Issue, it needed it be lifted. Following the awesomeness of Misty Copeland, Uzo Aduba strikes a powerful yet easy pose on the cover of the magazine. I have not watched OITNB since its first season for the simple fact that Piper is so annoying she makes me want to punch my screen, but Uzo Aduba is a woman I am continuously intrigued by on and off the red carpet, she represents much more and speaks to so many of us black women who don’t see people who look like us represent on covers of magazine, I only wish they’d reflect the essence of her power more on this cover. It gets a pass for relativity.
Best In Show
W. Rihanna. If not for anything for the artistic direction of this cover. This shows what can be when editors step outside the box and think big. It may not be a huge seller but tis definitely worth collecting.
Teen Vogue- Tavi Gevinson. Of late I’ve really liked Teen Vogue, it has proven to be the only Vogue of relevance among the Vogues. It realises the power of its voice and more important of its audience and tackles issues alongside the beauty and fashion, that speak to our times. They are in tune with the feeling of the moment, it is a magazine that goes above and beyond fashion to delve into issues of race, sexuality, discrimination etc. As a magazine geared towards a market that is highly influenced by social movement and moments, this is important because it is enlightening.
Elle UK– for September Elle UK has gone the more ambitious route of having four covers with different stars, Zayn Malik, Amanda Sternberg, Hari Nerf and Kirsten Stewart with the headline, “The Rise of The Rebel” Whilst I found Stewart’s cover pretty bland, I have to give kudos to the editors for Hari and Amandla’s there is something really authentic and gritty about the cover, more down to earth and relatable, its a little to the left and to the left is always a nice medium as opposed to the centre of everything which is often more typical. Good job Elle. Yes, they had Zayn Malik but meh, they’ve had better looking men on the cover… David Beckham anyone?
I set little store by magazines because the landscape is so bland, but I judge a magazine on the strength of its September issue and the power of its content. I will never forget that phrase, “its the September Issue of Vogue” it carries a lot of gravitas and with it an expectation that whatever has gone on in the year, the September issue will make up for it. We will come to fall in love again because it heralds one of life’s most romantic and beautiful seasons, Fall. Guaranteed to make us fall deeply in love with the next season’s offerings and the change about to come. Magazines are facing an uphill task of staying relevant in today’s insta-world and thanks to the internet that battle has become three times as hard. And they are losing it, but there in lies the challenge to be better, magazines will never die, that’s a fact. To survive they owe it to their readership to evolve not to coast by playing it safe and living by likes alone. Whilst social media footprints is the way of the present generation, it does not always translate to sales, most especially, since the conversation is blown wide open and the table seats, bloggers along side editors, buyers alongside influencers. The audience may love seeing the Jenners of the world on the cover but how many teenage girls, bulk of their audience, will be able to afford whatever garments they are peddling? How does that benefit the designer? How does that create an impact? It doesn’t. Its got to mean something, it cannot simply be about fashion and make up any more, the landscape has changed, the world is not as w know it and the audience is constantly evolving in their tastes and preference, you gotta find a way to keep up. Magazines have the power to affect change, set the tone that moves a generation but by failing to acknowledge this they will continue to grossly miss the mark. This starts and ends with the September Issue.