Cover Girl: The Power in the Publications

Kristen Stewart is a tumbling mess of tousled hair and printed Gucci silk, on the cover of Vogue’s October issue. Already popular from her acting roles and distinctive red carpet footwear, Stewart is the epitome of ‘haute causal’ style. But it’s not just the Twilight franchise that is boosting the career of the new face of Balenciaga’s ‘Florabontanica’. This magazine cover and the covers to match on Elle, Vanity Fair and W stand as the real beacon of success, as her and many other talented stars find their place in their chosen industry, thanks to fashion.

An interesting correlation is emerging. Rising to fame in his roles in ‘Skins’ and ‘A Single Man’, a raven perched on the shoulder of a velvet blazer is the seal of success for young actor Nicholas Holt. The face of Tom Ford menswear has previously established himself on his own accord; but the endorsement by Ford is gaining him a new kind of recognition. Once branded and dressed by a prominent fashion house or put on the cover of a leading publication, a recently recognized celebrity’s career changes forever. The spotlight favours them if they are celebrated by some of the world’s more exclusive and influential names in fashion and the media come running to report and subsequently revere them. An industry once branded ‘frivolous’ now has the power to make or break a career, with its focus of style being a pivotal point to a celebrity’s success. The appropriately named ‘Cover Girl Effect’ illustrates just how much influence fashion has on career success both through designer and publication, more so than it’s critics would like to admit.


Stating the obvious, publications are powerful resources. November 1988 was the year Anna Wintour changed the face of fashion publications forever. Putting jeans worth $50 with a bejewelled Christian Lacroix top worth $10,000 on the cover caused a riot among writers. Considering that the printers later called Wintour herself to ensure a mistake hadn’t been made, it’s evident that what and perhaps more crucially, who is on the cover of a magazine shapes not only trends but also their career. Much like Stewart, recently appointed cover girl Jennifer Lawrence is a recent example of such a trend, thanks to both her talent and the nurturing of the fashion industry. Although she gained widespread recognition through her role in ‘The Hunger Games’, it was Lawrence’s cover of Vogue’s November issue that placed her in a much higher place of fame, discussing her new role as the recently appointed face of Christian Dior.


Parallel to the effect of Wintour’s jeans cover, Lawrence is now a successful brand name. Her professional association with a designer and publication shapes her marketing image to one that is a great deal more sophisticated. Already hailed to be a great actress, Lawrence is now considered in a more sophisticated and serious light thanks to Vogue and Dior. Like January Jones, the face of Versace and gracing the covers of W and GQ after her role as Betty Draper in ‘Mad Men’, Lawrence is now the latest face of mature style for a younger generation, thanks to Vogue’s most prestigious writers praising her “radiant” personality. What started out as a promising career in acting is now a front row regular at Fashion Week and soon to be on billboards and magazine pages for miles.

Perhaps the best part of the correlation is the hybrid of personalities that is needed for the phenomenon to take hold. Fashion will always need to be diverse and the more clashing styles on the front row, the better. Although beauty and brains are a winning combination, more frequently we read about designers signing actresses or singers to their labels because of their ‘infectious’ personalities. Covers of Tatler and Elle featuring actress Emma Watson caused a sensation in the fashion world, consequently hand carving her a role as a style icon after her affiliation with Burberry. Although her accreditation as an actress is already paramount, it was her “charm and intellect” that caught the eye of creative director Christopher Bailey. As a result, her signature pixie cut, tea dresses and knitted jumpers are highly sought after, most prominently on the British high-street. Cover girls like Watson not only shape the future for appreciating British beauty, but also the affiliation of style with substance; thankfully a growing trend in a world of assumed air-heads.


So what does this mean for the surrounding industries? Fashion in the spotlight can make or sometimes, break a career and although the style spotting of most publications appears to be ‘filler’ content, they depict something far more influential. The celebrity on the cover of a leading fashion publication will gain recognition as being embraced by those who decide the current trends. Known names such as Lana Del Rey had already paved their way with their own talents and style. However, it was Del Rey’s British Vogue cover and her name on the new Mulberry handbag that transformed her into a globally recognized phenomenon, spreading the ‘Gangsta Nancy Sinatra’ love far and wide.

The ‘Cover Girl Effect’ is both powerful and predictable. Although few will admit to it, the new name reaches even the most unaffiliated media sites, because of the affiliation with fashion. Fashion magazines wants to report on what a celebrity is wearing because as their popularity increases so too does  their own investment in fashion. To be on the cover of Vogue “has to mean something” according to Wintour. A woman of her word, the cover girls of the past year have shaped the preceding trends to emerge from the designers that endorsed them. Although few are to admit it, the Cover Girl Effect is to be celebrated and embraced, as it produces some of the most successful collaborations in fashion to date and celebrates some of the most talented names in circulation today.

Rosie Feenstra


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