"Glenda, we have a problem with the new cover."
Glenda Bailey: "A problem?"
Editor: "Um, it's come out looking just like
last month's last January's."[*]
Glenda Bailey: "How so?"
Editor: "Well, somehow we styled the hair the same, and they're wearing practically the same dress — fuck, we even repeated a cover line. 'Best Bags & Shoes.' You always need those, right? Ha, ha!"
Glenda Bailey (sharply): "But that's the dummy text! It's supposed to get swapped out for something punchier, more topical. (sigh) I simply don't understand how you could let this happen. For two such talented and unique women to look so identical on our magazine. Nicole Kidman. And Kate Hudson. They look nothing alike in real life!"
Editor: "Well, you know, it's hard, coming up with new ways to photograph actresses. Who knew Peter Lindbergh and Alexi Lubomirski would have such similar approaches?"
Glenda Bailey: "That doesn't explain the identical blue-and-white text, the pose, the cropping, the 96-point word 'Fashion' written in the exact same shade of blue..."
Editor: "We added 'Spring' to the Kidman cover. 'Spring Fashion.'"
Glenda Bailey: "I'm aware of that."
Editor: "It's not like we can just put anybody on a cover. We're limited in the actresses we can approach, who are right for our audience, who have the right kinds of projects to promote — and you know their people always need approval, and then half of them have pre-existing relationships with luxury brands that kind of tie our stylists' hands. And of course we have to do everything we can to shoot advertisers."
Glenda Bailey: "But. They. Look. Exactly. The. Same. People are going to see this one the newsstand and think we haven't bothered to make a new issue."
Editor (quietly): "That is a possibility."
Glenda Bailey (exasperated): "Well, what can we do about this? This is unacceptable. Do we do a total re-shoot? Do we need a new art director? Should we be working with younger photographers? Who's a stylist who can take us beyond, you know...(snaps fingers, searching for the right word)...beyond? Do we need to bring in someone to consult on a redesign? Are we over-relying on Pascal? That's it, isn't it — too much Pascal, giving everyone that same lit-from-within kind of face, I'll have to have a word with him about that again..."
Glenda Bailey: "Give me fresh ideas. I need. Fresh. Ideas."
Editor (meekly): "People like blue?"
Glenda Bailey: "I suppose that is true."
Editor: "I don't think people necessarily expect us to break the mold each month...do they?"
Glenda Bailey: "The Aniston thing, celebs interviewing celebs, that'll get the blogs talking."
Editor: "Yes! And if people even notice the similarity, for like a second, they'll forget all about it. Who would think a magazine would seriously put out two covers that look so much alike...in a row? I mean, it's ludicrous."
Glenda Bailey: "So you vote no re-shoot, then?"
Editor (pause): "I don't see why we need one."
Glenda Bailey: "It is a beautiful shot of Nicole."
Editor: "She looks radiant. Even if it is Pascal, ha ha!"
Glenda Bailey: "Fuck it. Publish the sucker. Who's up for next month?"
Editor: "Blake Lively?"
Glenda Bailey (slightly weary): "Oh, right. That's good for me."
* Yes, in fact the Kate Hudson cover is from January, 2010 — not January, 2011, as originally stated. Mea culpa. But given the January, 2011, cover of Harper's Bazaar also features a head-and-shoulders crop of an actress, Julianna Margulies, wearing a white dress, styled with her wavy hair blowing in the wind, surrounded by the cover lines "BEST BAGS & SHOES" and "Spring Fashion," the overall point still stands.