Fashion is nothing if not inherently cyclical. One season hails the emergence of neutrals; bolds and brights dominate the runways the next. We see the embrace of teen models, and thereafter, welcome the return of industry favorites, who have aged a bit. It is the notion of long hemlines one season, short the next, and this permeates almost every aspect of the industry. From color and cut to casting for the runway and beyond. So, in much the same vein, the recent Kim and Kanye Vogue cover suggests that we may have hit the pinnacle (in terms of controversy and relevance, not necessarily quality) when it comes to putting celebrities on magazine covers, and much like any other seasonal trend, we are due in for a shift in course.
Unlike the many fleeting trends which last for a season or two, the celebrity magazine cover is more along the lines of the jersey-style garment, if we are comparing it to a trend; it has been awhile in the making. Much like the sequined dresses that Tom Ford showed for Fall/Winter 2014, which derived their relevance from the array of sportswear inspired looks we have seen over the past several seasons (think: Givenchy’s Pervert shirt or the LPD Dream Team jerseys), and dating all the way back to Geoffrey Beene’s original “71” dress in 1968, the celebrity-in-fashion trend has some substantial roots. We are likely all familiar by now with the fact that when Vogue’s editor in chief, Anna Wintour, took the reigns in 1988, she heralded in a new era: One that included putting Hollywood celebrities on the cover of the magazine.
When Vogue initially switched from covers starring supermodels to those with glamorous movie stars, Wintour solidified her status as a visionary leader, especially since the majority of magazines at the time exclusively put models on their covers. As such, this trend, so to speak, has certainly had its time, and like any trend shown for too long, has arguably lost its luster. With one maybe final exception … Kim and Kanye.
Like them or hate them, I believe we can all agree that it is truly shocking that Twitter did not break completely when the Vogue cover leaked. Nearly everyone was chiming in on #TheWorldsMostTalkedAboutCouple. Vogue won the day (and the next several days, as well). The magazine cover got everyone talking. Vogue became the most relevant thing in fashion once again. But what now? How can Vogue top this? It may not be unfair to assume that it probably can’t … not with a celebrity, at least.
If we adhere to the color follows neutrals, long follows short, young follows old, minimal follows logo-centric roadmap that dictates the manner in which fashion is run, then the logical direction for Vogue to take now is one that includes models. Freja Beha Erichsen, who recently returned to the runway, opening Nicolas Ghesquiere’s debut Louis Vuitton show, would be a worthwhile choice. Soojoo Park, the blonde-haired stunner from South Korea, who is favored by everyone from Carine Roitfeld and Karl Lagerfeld to Tom Ford, would also be a strong option. Cara Delevingne, our generation’s version of Kate Moss, is pretty close to a celebrity herself.
Either way, judging by the Kimye backlash, fashion fans would be happy to see just about ANY model on the cover of the magazine’s May issue. And while I think part of the resistance stems from the more “mainstream” (as opposed to high fashion) nature of the rapper x reality TV star couple, the other part is certainly derived from the fact that underlies the reason models have graced magazine covers to begin with: They are impossibly beautiful, aspirational, larger than life, and they undeniably embody Fashion. And deep down, we miss that.
Anna Wintour addressed the shift from models to actresses in 2009, saying: “Until models become celebrities again in their own right, I can’t see them selling as well on magazine covers as actresses.” So, is that time now? With the popularity of street style websites (many of which chronicle the “off duty model”), the rise of fashion-specific websites, such as Style.com and models.com, which make models more familiar to a larger audience than ever before, and the omnipotence of social media, on which models are seriously hot commodities, that time may be now.
Oh, and one more thing. It’s been awhile since we have seen the likes of superpowers likes Cindy, Naomi, Kate, Linda, and the likes. But slowly, girls, many of whom may be identified by their first names only (think: Karlie, Cara, Freja, Daphne, etc.), are emerging. It may be just a matter of time before they stage a takeover.