The American Society of Magazine Editors has spoken, and the finalists for its eighth annual Best Cover Contest are out (and posted to the ASME Facebook page). Among the lucky few — all winners in their individual categories before moving on to the final round — is W's cover, starring a very polka-dotted George Clooney, and Vanity Fair's centennial issue with Kate Upton in full Marilyn Monroe form.
W's jarring, delightful Clooney cover took home the top prize in the "Fashion and Beauty" category despite it being the magazine's art issue, leading us to a truth universally acknowledged by die-hard fans of obscure fashion magazines: The pretty, clean shots used on the cover of commercial glossies like Vogue and Elle may appeal to a wide audience, but they don't make for exceptional visual material.
Harper's Bazaar was a finalist last year for its Gwyneth Paltrow cover shot by Terry Richardson. While on point with Bazaar's usual covers, the image is nonetheless striking, with the actress's hair obscuring her face and a deep slit in her dress revealing a lot of thigh. In 2010, the New Yorker won the fashion category for its tribute to Alexander McQueen, a haunting illustration of a Philip Treacy headpiece covered in butterflies that the designer sent down his Spring 2008 runway.
Tragedy may inspire great moments in fashion journalism, but it's not the only opportunity to use covers to dig a little deeper. This year, Bloomberg Pursuits offered a great take on the life cycle of luxury goods with a tight shot of a crocodile closing its teeth down on a crocodile wallet, also nominated for Best Cover. The entry from defending Best Cover champion New York magazine, featuring "Liberace" star Michael Douglas with a single eye done up in purple shadow, uses the beauty look to pretty wonderful effect.
The winners will be announced next Wednesday, April 30. Check out our slideshow below for a look at all ten nominees.