"Fashion magazine with models on its cover" should be a flippin tautology, but the infrequency with which clotheshorses grace the front of American Vogue meant that its May issue was hotly anticipated. Well, it's here.
Featured are the nine models everyone pretty much assumed — and no, Lara Stone didn't get spiked, as had been rumored. On the front cover are Liya Kebede - the third black woman on Vogue's cover in as many months - Natalia Vodianova, and Anna Maria Jagodzinska. Isabeli Fontana, Stone, Jourdan Dunn, Raquel Zimmerman, Caroline Trentini, and Natasha Poly share the fold-out. I can't tell for certain what the nine are wearing, but if I'm not mistaken, Dunn, Stone, and possibly Vodianova have on dresses by Rodarte.
An honest-to-goodness surprise? Anna Wintour allowed Steven Meisel to put Jagodzinska, a relative newcomer and the current focus of the photographer's frequently-shifting attentions, right up front next to the established supermodels, Kebede and Vodianova. Jagodzinska is no overnight success, like Dunn — she's been working since 2004, although she quit in 2006 before coming back in a major way last year — but her most significant cover prior to this was Vogue Australia. That's like going from drinking out of a handsome silver julep cup (and feeling pretty good about it), to supping from the holy grail itself. A hell of a step up for the blonde Pole, and, on the part of Wintour, an unusual nod to the fashion-forward audience that would most easily recognize her.
The cover bears American Vogue's signature apparent use of Photoshop. Something's off around Isabeli Fontana's jaw line, and there's an unreal look to all the overlapping heads. At least the retouching team left Wintour's favorite Brazilian her much-vaunted freckles.
The biggest laugh? "The Man Who Made Them Stars" is a cover line that teases to a story about Meisel, who shot the main inside editorial, which is a 21-model extravaganza titled, not so humbly, "The Godfather," and which includes two group shots with the man himself. Meisel, though an extraordinarily influential (and deservingly admired) photographer, did not "make" all nine girls on his cover "stars." Jourdan Dunn was chosen by casting superagent Russell Marsh to walk for the Prada fall/winter 08 show, which launched the Londonite into the industry's good books. Lara Stone, after working all over the world in relative obscurity for over five years, switched agencies and attracted the attention of Givenchy designer Ricardo Tisci before Meisel ever started using her for Italian Vogue. Liya Kebede made it big when Tom Ford cast her in his shows back when he designed for Gucci. Natasha Poly doesn't really owe her career to Meisel, either. Let's be honest and call "The Man Who Made Them Stars" this issue's first Cover Lie.
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Earlier: Handicapping The May Vogue Cover Models: Our Best Bets