A deeper look at Vogue covers

Zendaya posted her Garage magazine cover and I was fascinated. I loved the creativity and the execution; it was beautifully done. I saw the British Vogue October cover on the same day, and it is safe to say that my reaction was very different. Then I thought to myself – when was the last time I felt excited after seeing a Vogue cover? The reality is, whilst the editorials are always intriguing, it is not often that I am wowed by a Vogue cover. So, I ask again, is the sentiment of the magazine cover slowly dying out?

A magazine cover is the first thing you encounter before the magazine itself. Thus, it serves to entice you to pick up the magazine or, in this digital age, to click ‘add to cart.’ This means that the cover image is not just any nice picture, but a carefully curated concept transformed into a photograph. Accordingly, the sentiment of the magazine cover cannot die out as the entire industry would be in jeopardy. Yet, a search of the archives of the American and British Vogue covers displays a lack of consistency; some stand out whilst some fade into the background. The September issue covers for both publications this year were compelling, but I expect to be wowed every month of the year. I widened my search and found that very few magazines consistently produce intriguing cover images; notably Dazed, Harper’s Bazaar UK, Vogue Arabia and Vogue Italia have succeeded in this. So, why is this?

When the August 2019 American Vogue cover was released there was much talk amongst creatives on social media. The cover was very disappointing, and the discussion centred around how such a prestigious magazine is struggling to convey a concept. It would be irresponsible and incorrect to suggest that no time or thought is put into these images. Professional creatives have surveyed the areas of fashion and beauty as well as the intricacies of their intended cover star to create what they believe to be an interesting cover. Perhaps there is a miscommunication of the concept so that the reader is unable to connect with the photography and thus connect with the ideas. A particular tweet I read explained my thoughts on this perfectly: when the same people are given the same opportunities then the creativity will naturally dwindle over time. When there is no fear of new people coming in and where the number of people in the industry is limited then the work produced can appear to be one note. It is not necessarily that the effort put into these images is less but rather the concepts are lost in translation.

I don’t like to throw diversity at every issue as it is not always an adequate solution. But I think here it would be wise to feature work by a wider range of photographers and creative directors to gain a wider perspective. The fashion industry is notoriously exclusive which results in the same people producing the publications over many many years. I believe that less well established yet talented photographers and creative directors should be afforded these opportunities to display their points of view; it is likely that these people will be more in touch with the everyday fashion enthusiast and understand how best to convey their ideas.

Love Jummy