“Vanity Fair”: the Annie Leibovitz covers


There’s a half-funny, half-embarrassing

story concerning me and women on the cover of magazines. It involves

the year 1998, a newsagent, Denise Richards, a copy of FHM,

and my firm insistence — to a male friend of mine who happened across

me browsing — that I didn’t realize FHM was a men’s

magazine. I think he believed me … just about.

Nevertheless, for most of my teen

years I didn’t dare to cast more than a furtive eye in the direction

of the men’s magazine section. Fortunately, they’re not the only

magazines to feature lots of glamorous women. In fact, one of my favorite

magazine covers was from around the same period as the FHM fiasco,

in 1997:

Now, I couldn’t care less about

Cameron Diaz
, but Kate Winslet and Claire Danes in

the same frame? Be still, my beating teenage Titanic– and My

So-Called Life
–loving heart!

What I didn’t realize at the time

was that this cover was part of what has become an annual series for

Vanity Fair
’s Hollywood Issue, by a rather well-known photographer

named Annie Leibovitz. VanityFair.com is currently running a retrospective of these foldout covers (which typically

entice you in with three beautiful women on the front, and then open

out to reveal about seven more). That means you can time-travel

all the way back to the first one in 1995:

Um. Yes. Normally I think that the

expression “legs for days” is an exaggeration, but in the case of

Uma Thurman
(pictured second from left), it might actually be true.

And I’m not even going to get started on that picture of Nicole


Also online is the latest cover,

for 2008:

While I’m not mad about the sickly

pastel theme, I vote an enthusiastic yes to anything involving Emily

and an old-fashioned bathing costume. And is it just me, or

does Elizabeth Banks (pictured third from right) strangely resemble

Leisha Hailey

There’s the famous Scarlett

and Keira cover from 2006:

One of the most interesting things

about the large ensemble shots is to see who comes out looking best.

While Nicole Kidman looks Titian and goddess-like, for instance, and

none of the people around her is exactly plain, I think the 2001 cover

shot belongs to Kate Winslet:

2004 is stolen by a Monroe-like Scarlett

Johansson, and, rather to my surprise, Jennifer Aniston:

One thing that bothers me about these

covers is that, while they do sometimes feature women of color, they

almost always seem to be on the inside part of the foldout, rather than

the front. In fact, the only front-cover example I could find in the

14 years these covers have been running is Thandie Newton in


It may also come as no surprise to

hear that 14 years have gone past without a single out lesbian or bisexual

actress appearing in any of the Hollywood Issue cover shots. This is

a problem that must be solved. Either Annie needs to ring up Jodie,

or a lot of actresses need to come out this year. In fact, a combination

of both would be nice.

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