The most imperative question among us faithful followers of fashion come late July will always remain: “who will snag the cover of Vogue’s September issue?” But we’re not just talking about any Vogue – we’re talking about American Vogue. Yes, it is arguably the most mainstream of ‘em all, yet Anna Wintour keeps us coming back for more. Plus, her celebrity rotation (or lack-thereof) has always been a matter of much fascination. We speculate; we place bets; we wait with bated breath upon the September issue’s arrival on newsstands. And so in honor of the so-called “leaked” Gaga cover, here’s a look at some pretty lovely September issues of the new millennium.
Nicole Kidman, September 2003
As a testament to her newfound prominence among designer dignitaries, Kidman’s official crowning as fashion elite is her September cover, in which she poses for fash’-photog’ icons like Annie Leibovitz, Helmut Newton, Irving Penn and Craig McDean. In a whopping 20-page spread, Kidman gallivants in everything from Atelier Versace to Agent Provocateur. In her feature, writer Sally Singer muses that Kidman has come to represent “the first and most fully realized relationship between a serious acting career and serious fashion.” And while that’s all nice and dandy, this issue makes our cut solely because, looking back now, Kidman’s cover reminds me of that 180-second long Chanel No. 5 commercial I used to watch on repeat before bed every day as a preteen (technically, the short film debuted a year after her Vogue cover, but who actually knew that?)
Daria Werbowy, Natalia Vodianova and Gisele Bündchen, September 2004
Surprisingly enough, this issue marks doe-eyed and breathtakingly beautiful Natalia Vodianova’s first Vogue cover ever, which she shares alongside her supermodel colleagues Daria and Gisele. The likes of Isabeli Fontana, Karolina Kurkova, Liya Kebede, Hana Soukupova, Gemma Ward and Karen Elson also make an appearance on the tri-fold cover (if those names mean nothing to you, just know it’s a big deal). In their editorials, the girls do handstands for Steven Meisel, and lounge in Rochas circa Olivier Theyskens and pre-contemporary Helmut Lang. Ah, to be a model.
Sarah Jessica Parker, September 2005
Let’s get real here: Parker’s cover is conservative and tiresome. She’s wearing Caroline Herrera (yawn!), and she appears as though she’s missing her right arm. But we’re featuring this cover anyway because Parker’s portray of the saucy Carrie Bradshaw has forever cemented her as a style icon by this point in time, and the accompanying editorial photos lensed by Leibovitz at The Plaza are anything but. Come to think of it, all six American Vogue covers that Parker’s graced are boring and make her look like she’s missing a limb…except for maybe that one where she’s nestled between Chris Noth’s legs… (Google it).
Kirsten Dunst, September 2006
This was a cover that found itself framed and hanging on my bedroom walls. As an ode to Sofia Coppola’s visually captivating film Marie Antoinette, starring Dunst as the title character, all my love for this cover goes to the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with Dunst. Styled by Vogue veteran Grace Coddington, and shot yet again by Leibovitz, the issue captures France’s most infamous queen to perfection, as she rebelled against the harsh propriety and devious courtiers of Versailles with her personal interpretation of fashion. On poising as Marie Antoinette, Dunst revealed within the issue’s pages: ”You breathe differently in those dresses; you move in a special way.”
Sienna Miller, September 2007
Arguably the cover that began it all – that is, the marvel and excitement now surrounding Vogue’s highly anticipated September issues. It was the largest issue to date, weighing in at 5lbs and featuring an impressive 840 pages – 725 of which were glossy, premium-cost advertisements. It is important to note that the cover acted as a prelude to the documentary The September Issue, which debuted in 2009, and chronicled unprecedented access into the halls of Vogue while preparing for Miller’s cover issue. Some fun facts from the film: Anna Wintour and her toy soldiers are often caught on candid camera complaining about Sienna’s crap hair and even crappier teeth. Also, the final cover is a photo of Sienna’s head superimposed onto another shot of her body. Now you know.
Kate Moss, September 2011
Kate’s no stranger to Vogue, so there’s really nothing new going on here – she’s lounging in McQueen, big whoop. The sentimentalism and excitement, however, lies within the pages as Vogue invites its readers to take an exclusive look into the nuptials of a Galliano-clad Kate and The Kills’ guitarist Jamie Hince. The whimsical Mario Testino-lensed photos are like something out of a fashion fairytale, surely lending the cover character. So take that Drew Barrymore and People Magazine.
Lady Gaga, September 2012
It seems only fitting to include the September 2012 cover, considering this post is, after all, an ode to Gaga’s coveted spot as cover girl. Shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, Gaga in all her glory packs a punch in an incredibly bold-silhouetted fuchsia Marc Jacobs, her white-blonde hair electrifying, literally. Gaga might have stolen the show in comparison to every other September cover of 2012, but the issue celebrates 120 years of Vogue marked by 916 pages, which also makes it worth buying. It’s on newsstands now, so get it while it’s hot – aka before all the little monsters snag every copy.