Don't judge a book by its cover...unless it's a magazine, in which case often the cover is the main selling point.
The best covers of 2011 returned to a new naturalism and a fun aesthetic, like the Lara Stone T cover we're still drooling over, pictured at left. Sure, there's still room for artifice in fashion (see: Stella Tennant on Vogue Italia), but 2011 was a year for reflecting on natural beauties, incredible models, and stellar photography.
After toiling over hundred of covers, we're bringing you "The Best" according to us. Did we forget your favorite? Let us know in the comments.
Vogue Italia September 2011 Photographer: Steven Meisel Stylist: Karl Templer Model: Stella Tennant Why we love it: Templer, Tennant, and Meisel nail the grotesque burlesque theme so perfectly that it caused a bit of a controversy. That's the best kind of art.
Vogue Paris August 2011 Photographer: Inez & Vinoodh Stylist: Melanie Ward Model: Lara Stone Why we love it: Princess Leia buns, sheer stay-ups, a 1960s car and an airplane are only a few of the reasons we love this Vogue Paris cover. It combines new ideas in a fun way - and it's a pretty reminder that Vogue Paris is capable of life after Carine.
i-D Summer 2011 Photographer: Matt Jones Make-up: Colleen Creighton Model: Behati Prinsloo Why we love it: While Behati might be best known for her sugary sweet Victoria's Secret PINK persona, this i-D cover shows proves that she's a rocker deep down, and it's nothing short of badass.
T Summer Travel Issue Photographer: Cass Bird Stylist: Sara Moonves Model: Daria Werbowy Why we love it: Daria goes on sailing expeditions for weeks at a time when she has breaks in her modeling schedule, and this is what she looks like after a trans-Atlantic adventure. Life isn't fair.
i-D Fall 2011 Photographer: Richard Bush Stylist: Sarah Richardson Model: Abbey Lee Why we love it: With a bleach blonde crop and some killer false eyelashes, Abbey Lee's portrayal of Twiggy on the cover of i-D is the best throwback to the '60s we saw this year—and there were a lot of them.
Vogue China February 2011 Photographer: Patrick Demarchelier Stylist: Nicoletta Santoro Model: Gisele Bündchen Why we love it: With playful Prada stripes, hair pinned back with a barrette, and tomboyish posture, this cover portrays Gisele as the anti-sex symbol—we wouldn't mind seeing this side of her more often.
Vogue January 2012 Photographer: Annie Leibovitz Stylist: Tonne Goodman Model: Meryl Streep Why we love it: Listen, if you are a human being, you love Meryl Streep. These are the rules of humanity. So clearly nothing made us happier than seeing our lady Meryl on the cover of the fashion bible that is Vogue.
Self Service No. 34 Photographer: Alasdair McLellan Stylist: Jane How Model: Lara Stone Why we love it: Self Service always feels like a cherished magazine that was sent from a foreign, more perfect place, and with Lara Stone and her flippant stare on the cover, we want to go to there.
LOVE Fall 2011 Photographer: Mert & Marcus Stylist: Arianne Phillips Model: Elle Fanning Why we love it: Do we really need to say anything about this one? Elle Fanning is everything.
LOVE Fall 2011 Photographer: Mert & Marcus Stylist: Katie Grand Model: Chloë Moretz Why we love it: Sinister stare and devil horns are just two elements that make this cover feel like a still from a horror movie that I think I'd be too scared to watch.
Dazed & Confused July 2011 Photographer: Sharif Hamza Stylist: Karen Langley Model: Beyoncé Why we love it: The eye-popping colors of the Givenchy, the neon green nail art, the clichéd melty ice cream cone—there is a whole lot to love about Queen Bey's Dazed cover.
The Last Magazine F/W 2011 Photographer: Karim Sadli Stylist: Alastair McKimm Model: Joan Smalls Why we love it: Sometimes all it takes is a beautiful model, beautiful photography, and beautiful clothes. It's a no-frills approach to covers, and we love it.
LOVE Fall 2011 Photographer: Mert & Marcus Stylist: Katie Grand Model: Lara Stone Why we love it: You've probably figured out that we've got a weak spot for Lara Stone, but even with our bias it's safe to say that out of LOVE's model covers this one is the best. Sure, we love Mariacarla's crown or Nyasha's jaguar hat, but it's Lara's demure innocence that is truly captivating. Plus, after I saw this I spent three days trying to perfect the two-tiny-braids hairstyle.
Russh #39 Photographer: Will Davidson Stylist: Stevie Dance Model: Jessica Stam Why we love it: The kaleidoscope of pastel colors, Stevie Dance's expert styling, and Stam's ice blue eyes all come together to make this RUSSH cover a true work of art.
AnOther F/W 2011 Photographer: Craig McDean Stylist: Olivier Rizzo Model:Rachel Weisz Why we love it: Who knew that combining a beautiful Hollywood actress, a bright, borderline tacky beauty look and a baby goat would be a recipe for success?
Purple Fashion Spring 2011 Photographer: Terry Richardson Stylist: Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele Model: Laetitia Casta Why we love it: You never quite know what will happen when Olivier Zahm and Terry Richardson get together, but this cover featuring one of the world's best-known supermodels has the signature Purple sex appeal without being salacious. Well done, boys!
Vogue Italia May 2011 Photographer: Steven Meisel Stylist: Karl Templer Model: Kristen McMenamy Why we love it: Two reasons: 1. We can never get enough of Kristen McMenamy's insane bod and gorgeous hair. 2. Meisel and Templer found a way to do swimwear that doesn't involve smoldering blondes on St. Barths. Congrats on that, boys.
T Magazine Fall Travel Issue Photographer: Angelo Penetta Stylist: Sara Moonves Model: Lara Stone Why we love it: Nothing could make Amsterdam look more appealing. Forget brownies. Give us Lara.
Vogue Germany August 2011 Photographer: Miles Aldridge Stylist: Christiane Arp Model: Claudia Schiffer Why we love it: It's a little dominatrix and a lot elegant - a great recipe for a cover that makes you want to flip through the rest of the mag.
Vogue Italia March 2011 Photographer: Steven Meisel Stylist: Panos Yiapanis Model: Saskia de Brauw Why we love it: We're suckers for Saskia's androgynous stare and the mix of strange, glitzy, and tacky.
Dansk #26 Photographer: Aitken Jolly Stylist: Anders Sølvsten Thomsen Model: Magdalena Frackowiak Why we love it: The whole religious/nun-chic motif is nothing new in fashion, but this cover featuring Magdalena is one of the most intriguing and evocative versions of it that we've ever seen. Plus, that Louis Vuitton look is flawless.
Acne Paper Spring 2011 Photographer: Daniel Jackson Stylist: Mattias Karlsson Model: Anaïs Pouliot Why we love it: This arresting photo stopped me in my tracks at the magazine stand. Amidst all the flashy colors and toothy celebrity smiles, Anaïs' beautiful stare captured by Daniel Jackson is really something else.
W Korea December 2011 Photographer: Catherine Servel Stylist: Catherine Newell-Hanson Model: Hailey Clauson Why we love it: Hailey's "too cool to care" pout paired with some over-the-top styling and an icy color palette makes this W cover one for the inspiration board.
i-D Pre-Fall 2011 Photographer: Terry Richardson Stylist: Mel Ottenberg Model: Lindsey Wixson Why we love it: Terry Richardson and Lindsey Wixson turned out to be quite the dynamic duo in 2011. Out of all of their collaborations, this i-D cover is one of our favorites—the 17-year-old model actually got to act her age!
Wall Street Journal Magazine April 2011 Photographer: Mario Testino Model: Anna Wintour Why we love it: That bob has never looked better! This is the perfect portrait of the most powerful woman in fashion, showing Wintour's strength, elegance, and perfect Prada dress.
Candy Photographer: Terry Richardson Model: Chloé Sevigny Why we love it: Uncle Terry and Aunt Chloé make magic together in the creepiest possible way. We love it and fear it simultaneously.