Recognized around the world as the “fashion bible”, Vogue is known for setting trends, making headlines, and being the foremost authority on the happenings of the fashion industry. Its storied legacy began in the United States in December 1892 and still remains strong in April 2014, as it has since expanded to countries throughout the world like Italy and the United Kingdom.
Over the years Vogue’s covers have been celebrated and criticized by fans and industry insiders, the most recent of which features Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Their cover wouldn’t have been possible without the stars that came before them that have fueled controversy and impacted sales figures.
Throughout its 122 year history, there have been many editors of Vogue, but no one has made as much of an impact on the magazine’s legacy than Anna Wintour. The famed editor began her reign 26 years ago and has been responsible for the best and worst covers in recent memory.
Her first cover in November 1988 was a celebration of firsts for both Wintour and the magazine. Michaela Bercu was the first Israeli woman to be featured on the cover, and was the first model to wear jeans, although a high fashion spin was put on the low-key pants, as they were paired with a beaded couture top designed by Christian Lacroix. Bercu’s beauty look was also a move in a more modern direction, with her beachy sun-kissed waves and minimal makeup.
Four years later the supermodel era was in full force on the 100th anniversary issue in April 1992, which featured 10 of the world’s top models dressed in matching white outfits against a backdrop and props of the same color. Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Christy Turlington are just three of the high profile women to be featured on Vogue’s cover during the height of their careers. This issue still holds the title of the best-selling cover of all time.
Just five men have ever graced the cover of Vogue, with two of these issues receiving negative reviews in the form of public opinion and in sales figures. LeBron James became the first African-American man to be on the magazine’s cover when he appeared alongside Gisele Bündchen in April 2008 as part of the “Shape Issue”, showcasing the best bodies in sports and fashion. James’ pose and facial expression were criticized as aggressive, and evoked a racial stereotype.
Ryan Lochte’s June 2012 cover with fellow Olympians Hope Solo and Serena Williams was the publication’s worst-selling issue of the year. Only 202,000 copies were sold, even during the buildup of coverage leading to the start of the London Olympics that August.
All of these covers have lead up to Vogue’s latest April issue featuring the “#worldsmosttalkedaboutcouple”. Speculation about why and how the Kimye cover came to be has been running wild ever since shots from their photo shoot became public.
It’s no secret that West has been verbal about his desire to see Kardashian on the cover of Vogue for months, even going as far as to say in an interview with Ryan Seacrest that she’s the “most intriguing woman right now”. Some media outlets also reported that he had begged Wintour to put Kardashian on the magazine’s cover, a tall-tale that was finally put to rest by the editor herself.
Despite being given the seal of approval by Wintour and the Vogue staff, many people have been in uproar about their decision to feature a reality star and a rapper on their cover. A boycott has been threatened, standards have been questioned, and subscriptions have been cancelled by many of the magazine’s fans.
A number of parody covers have been released, mocking the couple’s couture cover. James Franco released a photoshopped picture of himself and Seth Rogen as the duo on his Twitter account, which recently received over 230,000 retweets. Kermit and Miss Piggy also got in on the action with their cover of the fictitious “Vague” magazine.
Now that Kardashian and West’s buzzed about cover has hit newsstands, the world will be waiting for sales figures to see whether or not the cover was a hit or miss with Vogue’s opinionated audience.