We just saw the new cover of Harper's Bazaar online and let us say that we were a bit surprised. The cover image is pick-up art from a red carpet event back in December, so the shot may look familiar to you. And inside there is no accompanying interview with the usually candid Angie. Instead, there is an essay by Naomi Wolf (of The Beauty Myth fame) titled "Why Women Want Angelina Jolie's Life" which we think is rather obvious. But that's not even our problem here. Bazaar is meant to be one of our venerable American fashion magazines. And this reeks of tabloids, more than fashion. I worked in magazines for many, many years. The importance of newsstand sales is something I know all too well. But throwing Angelina's face onto the cover and doing a write-around story is such an obvious sales ploy that it makes me sad for Bazaar and for the state of magazines in general.
It's not that I've never worked at a publication where we've had to buy art for a cover when a shoot couldn't be worked out. Or that I think write-around stories (where you don't actually interview the subject) never happen. But this is just so transparent. The publishing industry is definitely in a state of flux. But we still look to our fashion books to bring us, well, fashion and photography. Harper's Bazaar still has the ability to book any number of A-list celebrities. And as Anna Wintour recently said, "Until models become celebrities again in their own right, I can’t see them selling as well on magazine covers as actresses.” We long ago came to accept the fact that major actresses will be on the covers of basically every issue of every American fashion mag. But if you don't have Angelina or another big name, why not just try booking an amazing young model for the July issue (typically one of the smaller issues of the year, industry-wide)? It's certainly better than a lesser caliber celebrity who is also not going to break any sales records. Show us some beautiful clothes on a rising star in the industry. Shoot it in the studio if budgets are tight. Just make it special. If the essay is actually incredibly interesting, put it inside the issue and give it a big old coverline. Angelina's face on the cover without any actual stories from Angelina also feels a bit like a bait and switch. And you're better than that, Harper's Bazaar!