Look: Carey Mulligan is on the November cover of French Elle. Except wait, the photograph is literally identical to the one that covered American Vogue‘s October issue last year. It was the actresses’ first Vogue cover and was shot by Peter Lindbergh (shortly after he started shooting for the mag again after an 18-year hiatus). And this French Elle cover is blatantly from the same shoot, which took place in the South of France last year and was styled by Vogue‘s Grace Coddington. Here’s a behind-the-scenes video.
There might be very minor differences–her mouth looks slightly different and Elle‘s is a bit more zoomed out–but the pose, background and Chanel couture dress are all the same (it’s like a really tricky game of Photohunt!). Or it’s just the exact same shot.
Magazines sharing photographs within the same publishing house is not uncommon. So if this photograph had appeared on, say, Glamour Netherlands (another Condé Nast publication), it wouldn’t have been that surprising. However, French Elle is part of Hachette Filipacchi, which is completely separate. So, is this even legal?
If Vogue owns the rights to the photos, which they typically do, then no. So it must be that Lindbergh owns the rights, and as the owner he can can license them for reproduction wherever he wants once the embargo is up. Overall, it seems odd that Vogue would allow something like this to happen–and even more odd that French Elle would want a hand-me-down cover, albeit a very charming one, from a competing magazine, that is over a year old. We’re confused. Are you?