The Fashion Heavyweight Championships
Models V Celebrities
The topic of models verse celebrities on the cover of fashion magazines has been a long standing debate. Ever since the great Anna Wintour made the executive decision to put celebrities on the cover Vogue US, most fashion magazines have followed suit, alternating between actresses, singers and socialites with the occasional model thrown into the mix.
Stefano Pilati was quoted saying, “Actresses are fantastic, but they’re not models and it’s not easy. Actresses have an attitude, but will never be the fashion attitude. To me, fashion photography is with a model; otherwise, it’s a portrait.”The choice to put celebrities on the covers of magazines was one made purely for financial reasons stemming from the possible revenue and benefits that the concept could create. However, because fashion ultimately remains the focus of these glossy publications, models, designers and fashion industry greats still need to play a primary role in the forefront. The need for celebrities to adorn the covers of our favourite fashion bibles is a critical one in maintaining the industry that we love, however, the choice of who, needs to be relevant, it needs to reflect the content and the readers. Franca Sozzani, an influential shape shifter and innovative creative genius shares her thoughts on this controversial topic…
Obsessed as we are by celebrities today, we asked ourselves, and you did as well, who between an actress and a model should be on the cover.
The question is what's better for Vogue because if we speak of a certain kind of magazine that talk about gossip the answer is obvious. It's better to put a face that is recognizable. According to the type of magazine you can then choose the right celebrity. There starts the escalation of fame and values. No need to mention names. Some of these names would be inadmissible for Vogue, but perfect for other publications.
The real question is: would a real celebrity sell more copies of Vogue? In general it doesn't change much. When we tried with Madonna or Eva Mendes the numbers didn't change a lot. Vogue has its own style with the most beautiful models in the world and our readers expect to see that. We are innovative in what we show, the models and the photos. The quality is high compared to the other magazines.
This doesn't mean that we are not open to use celebrities, but maybe we rather use an outsider. On newsstands there are a lot of magazines that put on the cover people who are kind of famous.
The quality of the person is what makes the difference. For Vogue that is essential, the person has to be outstanding. The possibilities get automatically cut down and it gets difficult to make choices. The model of the moment is herself a star and is appealing to the reader.
This is how the supermodel phenomena started. We treated models like celebrities by emphasizing their names and last names, taking pictures that would make history, talked about them like style icons, in the 90s models took over actresses.
Today the tendency is more concentrated on stars because they create more curiosity and there are some who are very pretty and talented. Models nowadays are less recognizable and less star material. The few that are out there are already on the pages of Vogue and this makes the difference.
Everything also depends on the pictures and its impact. Sometimes the same actress is on the cover of a lot of magazines at the same time. Who sells more? Certainly the most famous magazine but to put itself on the same level as others can be damaging.
On July, 2010, three fashion magazines used the same Miu Miu dress, Vogue Uk, Elle Uk and W in America. Vogue UK had a model on the cover, Elle UK a singer - Lily Allen - and W Eva Mendes. In England sales were higher. Freja is the new icon for models. Eva Mendes didn't have an impact on W.
There are no rules. For a certain type of paper. For others there are strict rules and the celebrities, if not the best, help the numbers. If they are involved in a scandal even better.
As always it's a matter of choice and quality. And readers.
- Franca Sozzani
What’s you opinion, would you rather see models or celebs on the cover for your favourite fashion mag?