We Read So You Don't Have To: The Year's Biggest Ladymags, Rated and Graded


In Ladymag Land, the biggest issues of the year are the September issues. And this year, Vogue, Queen of the Ladymags, had its biggest issue ever. Nine hundred sixteen pages: Absolutely GIGANTIC. But all of the Ladymags celebrated the fall season in a huge way, and we could not let this momentous occasion pass without critiquing their efforts. With ten titles to choose from, thousands of pages to flip through and epicly large headlines screaming from the newsstands, it’s tough to know which editors, if any, actually produced something worthwhile. And so, in the spirit of Midweek Madness, this is Ladymag Lunacy: The September issues, rated and graded. Grab yourself a diet soda and get comfortable: The show’s about to begin.


Motto: “The Magazine about Shopping and Style”

Cover Line: “Fashion Special! Fall’s Smartest Buys.”

Cover Model: Eva Longoria, looking constipated with joy.

Page count: 238 (slender)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “A shoe making it into the Lucky shoe guide is like a singer getting into the final round of American Idol. We have to really, really love it.” – Brandon Holley

Line From Cover Profile: “‘I was born in platform heels,’ she says, ‘I actually always fall down when I’m wearing flip-flops.'”

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: “Free Range” promises colorful clothes to inspire an adventure, but delivers an overdressed, lost-looking model standing on a dirt road wearing Brady Bunch-inspired frocks. Yawn. In “The New Baroque,” beautiful bright and elaborately patterned pieces give offer up a whimsical and vintage feel. (Fig. 1).

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: “The Lucky Guide to Fall Shoes” is a 9 pages, with prices ranging from the affordable ($39 for a pair of hot brown high-heeled boots) to the inexplicably expensive ($1,250 for sexy stiletto lace-up boots). Subscribers can purchase whichever boots you covet (or any of the featured items in each issue) straight from your tablet, Kindle Fire or Nook by simply tapping the item on the screen.

Bonus Fashion Shoot: “Ciao, Bella!” informs us: “When Italian women are chic, they are the most chic”.

Any Black Models? No, but Italians fulfill the magazine’s diversity quota, right?

Any Black People? Thandie Newton shares beauty tips and hocks Olay products in her piece, “My 5 Rules for Relaxed Glamour,” and Lucky’s associate beauty editor Megan O’Neill writes “My (Un)straight, (Almost) Natural, (Much) Healthier Hair”, in which she shares her why she made the decision to go almost natural, and the responses that her “texturized” hair has received.

Any Plus Size Fashion? The cover promises “Real Girls, Real Outfits; Clothes that Fit Your Body”, but fails to provide any plus-size fashion, unless you count Guess founder Paul Marciano calling Anna Nicole Smith huge, saying “She was a huge girl-I mean huge, like almost six feet, and I mean big girl, no clothes will fit her.”

News You Can Use: A handy-dandy skirt-length to boot-height ratio formula, complete with pictures. (Fig. 2).

Horoscope: No.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: A $7,950 embroidered crepe top from Bottega Veneta.

Most Affordable (Cute) Thing In The Issue: We actually really love a $35 two-toned trench coat from Forever 21, and the chic and cheap home H&M home accents on p. 120.

Brains: C
Beauty: B+
Diversity: D

Overall: C+


Motto: n/a

Cover Line: “1,001 Fall Style Ideas Inside.”

Cover Model: Victoria Beckham, looking quite down-to-earth as she takes an everyday, ordinary bubble bath in full makeup while wearing a tiara.

Page count: 328 (thick)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “I’m often asked, if I weren’t designing, what other job I would love to do. Once upon a time I would have said I’d be a ballet dancer — I trained as one for years! But if not dancing, I’d be a fashion editor…I even made my own list of Glamour fashion Don’ts to keep out of the issue: boat shoes (unless of course you’re designer Albert Elbaz or on a boat!), Bermuda shorts, nose rings, Crocs, and American tan tights…”– Guest Editor, Victoria Beckham.

Line From Cover Profile: “I think when you look at me, Phoebe [Philo], and Stella [McCartney], we’re all designing clothes for ourselves. I’ve asked a couple of the men: ‘How do you design women’s clothes? Do you put the clothes on yourself?’…I’m sure more do than admit it!'”

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: “Fashion’s Most Wanted,” features boy band The Wanted dressed in mod-inspired pieces, accompanied by a female models enveloped in wildly patterned outfits that’ll make you feel like you’re tripping on acid while watching Austin Powers. The clothes just aren’t our bag, baby. (And those HATS.) (Fig. 3)

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: “A Girl In Uniform” features Elizabeth Olsen modeling wearable military-inspired clothing.

Any Black Models? Yes, one black model featured in “Fashion’s Most Wanted”.

Any Black People? Yes, quite a few! Solange Knowles’ style evolution is documented on p. 104, Zahara Jolie-Pitt is named her mother’s style icon on p. 110, Kerry Washington names Diahann Carroll as her style icon on p. 110, first-lady Michelle Obama receives 16% of the votes in Glamour’s “What’s the Most Iconic Fashion Moment of the Past 20 Years” poll for her inaugural gown, Cushnie et Ochs designers Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs discuss how they got their start in the fashion industry, and finally, author Tracy McMillan discusses how her personal style was influenced by her father, who was a pimp who wore mauve Italian wool suits with four inch lapels on p. 254.

Any Plus Size Fashion? Yes, one single, solitary, lonesome plus-size fashion piece. “Your Body’s Perfect Weekend Jacket” suggests that if you are “curvy all over,” you opt for a jacket with a drawstring around the waist, to define the midsection.

Serious Business Article(s): Fashion blogger Leandra Medine tells the tale of how her husband fell in love and married her despite her “Man Repeller” style and hideous mullet skirt. She wore a motorcycle jacket and a sleeve of bangles on their wedding day.

Column by a Celebrity: In “And Now a Word From Marc Jacobs” the designer shares with readers that he puts his skirt on, one leg at a time, just like us, saying, “I wake up, have a double espresso and a cigarette, then I shower, trim my beard, shave, put gel in my hair, put on [my men’s cologne] Bang, and decide which skirt to wear.”

News You Can Use: Here’s an entire month’s wardrobe! (Fig. 4)

Weird Fashion Angle: Jason Sudeikis suggests that women buy a pair of Air Jordans to gain “street cred” and be “badass” at the next “March Madness-themed orgy”, and on the same page, Robin Thicke states that high heels are “good for a marriage.”

Horoscope: Yes. You’ll spend lots of money in September. If you’re a Gemini, you’ll spend twice as much!

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: The winter white $3,525 Dolce & Gabana bag and $3,150 Mulberry bag will both ruin your bank account.

Most Affordable (Cute) Thing In The Issue: The trendy baroque Jack BB Dakota dress for $70 at Urban Outfitters is a both chic and cheap.

Brains: C

Beauty: B+

Diversity: B+

Overall: B


Motto: n/a

Cover Line: “652 Page Mega Issue!”

Cover Model: Jennifer Lopez, looking more like haughty Jenny from the Baroque Period than Jenny from the Block.

Page count: 652 (very chunky)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “Enjoy this epic September issue. And once you’ve planned your wardrobe updates, check us out again in October. We’ll be offering acres of dressing inspiration, including our signature fall features ’28 Days of Amazing Outfits’ and ‘Secrets of the Super-Stylish!'” — Ariel Foxman.

Line From Cover Profile: “Toward the end of the concert…[Casper] Smart will filter through the throngs on the arena floor to go backstage. But when he appears shirtless in the spotlight behind Lopez, in second-skin sweatpants and places his palms firmly on her celebrated derriere, the crowd will go wild as the two begin to dance.'”

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: “Casting a Spell” showcases actress Brit Marling wearing mostly drab and forgettable ensembles. In “Riding the Wave,” actress Cody Horn wears body-hugging knits on the beach. (The crocheted crotch warmers are a little weird.) (Fig. 5) “Journey to Nars” is an excuse to ship actress Chloe Grace Moretz “4,256 miles to the private French Polynesian island of legendary makeup artist and photographer Francois Nars”; she was photographed with smoky eyes and smoldering red lips while brooding on a beautiful beach while you sat at your cubicle eating a bag-lunch.

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: According to “Flash Forward,” the future is bright… and ugly. Also, in the future, there is a suspicious lack of skin pigmentation.

Any Black Models? Nope.

Any Black People? Yes: Solange Knowles is a fashion inspiration on p. 76, Viola Davis advises, “Embrace who you are. I spent too much time wanting to be an 80-pould white girl, you know?” on p. 190, Estelle, Tatyana Ali, Lala Anthony, BET CEO Debra Lee, Michelle Williams and Ciara share the first songs they learned all the lyrics to on p. 192, Alicia Keys rocks trendy wedge sneakers on p. 220, Beyonce shows off her bright fashion sense on p. 226 and InStyle‘s Accessories Editor Nicole Chapoteau shows us how she utilizes her Fall budget of $400 (only spending $113 in for September) to buy baubles and accessories to feature in the magazine.

Any Plus Size Fashion? Sorta, if you count showing readers with curves how to shop for flattering (and hideous) matchstick pants that’ll be “forgiving” and flatter their butt.

Global or International Story:Visit the Missoni family in the Northern Italy house that three generations of fashinistas built, on p. 630, and stay for the authentic recipes on p. 633.

Column by Celebrity: In “Beauty Talk,” Julia Roberts talks about beauty and exercise, adn reveals her secret to looking naturally radiant, which includes good genes and the magical youth elixir that is her husband’s hugs and kisses.

Weird Beauty Story: In “Do They Really Work?” experts try Zaggora Viva hot pants, which promise to make you sweat and lose water weight from your crotch! The verdict? Crotch sweat is never a good thing.

Horoscope: No.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: Why put a down payment on a new home when you can make a “bold understatement” with a Linda Lee Johnson necklace for $31,150? Priorities!

Most Affordable (Cute) Thing In The Issue: Everything in “50 Under $150” on p. 530 (Fig. 6) is affordable, wearable and classic.

Brains: C

Beauty: A-

Diversity: B

Overall: B


Motto: “Who, What, Where, When, and Why in the World of Style”

Cover Line: “The Big Fashion Issue”

Cover Model: Penelope Cruz, looking kind of 1987.

Page count: 412 (heavy) (also, please note, this oversized glossy is great for ripping out images and putting them on your vision board but terribly hard to handle and refused to fit in our scanner. If the cover image looks cobbled together, it’s because it is.)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “In our postmodern, postindustrial, post-human society, all of us-adults and children alike-have developed a limitless appetite for making up alternate realities and living multiple lives.” — Stefano Tonchi.

Line From Cover Profile: “I don’t like dying. I die in Don’t Move…and I can’t really look at it because it reminds me of my grandmother when she was very old. But sex scenes are very strange. Absurd, really.”

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: If Lady Gaga and Tim Burton shared dreams (or nightmares), they would look like the fashion feature “Spellbound” (Fig. 7). Filled with ghoulish, fantastical creatures the pictorial’s fashion is second to the haunting imagery that will result in thousands of dollars of retail therapy for us all.

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: “Power Play” features androgynous fashion on stoic, chisel-cheeked women wearing futuristic swimming caps. “Super Linda” shows model Linda Evangelista dressed in various plastic catsuits (including a see-through number) that would make cat woman blush.

Bonus Fashion Shoot: “Living Large” utilizes extremely structured clothing to create exaggerated shoulders and hips protruding from an otherwise gaunt model. Sadly, these are the most curves you’ll see in this issue. (Fig. 8)

Any Black Models? We have fairies, minotaurs, futuristic cyborgs and goblins, but absolutely no black models.

Any Black People? Small Items on SIbu “FDB” Sithole of the Smarteez Crew, poets Gratitude Fisher and Phumza Mankayi, model Alek Wek and her model look-alikes, Grace Boi, Nana Keita, Ajak Deng and Jeneil Williams.

Any Plus Size Fashion? No.

Serious Business Article(s):Female designers in Saudi Arabia learn and create the latest fashion trends, but are unable to wear their wares in public, in “Veiled Threads”.

Column Penned by a Celebrity: “The Aristocats” showcases photos taken by Karl Lagerfeld of his female and feline muses.

Weird Beauty Story: A designer and former research fellow at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design goes green by developing a fabric made from kombucha, a “fermented green-tea-based solution”.

Horoscope: No.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: Page 272 features a woman wearing nothing but a $44,900 ring, which is touted as a bare essential, negating the need for any other item of clothing. Of course, with that price tag, you might not be able to afford any clothes.

Most Affordable (Cute) Thing In The Issue: A barely noticeable Guess shirt, $89.

Brains: C

Beauty: A-

Diversity: C+

Overall: B


Motto: n/a

Cover Model: Lucy Hale, looking like a deer caught in headlights on a breezy fall day.

Cover Line: “25 Sex Moves He Secretly Wishes You’d Try”

Page count: 270

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “I am so excited to tell you about Cosmo’s fashion collection with JCPenney — it’s sexy, fun, and totally affordable.”— Kate White

Line From Cover Profile: “She met her boyfriend, 27-year old actor Chris Zylka (The Amazing Spider-Man), through their…wait for it…hairdresser.”

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: “Rebel Belle,” in which black lace, appliqué, fringe and leather are modeled in a graveyard by a young lady unable to keep her eyes open. (Fig. 9)

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: “Fall’s Sexiest Trends,” in which suggestive clothing innuendos and associated styles are actually practical, and in true Cosmo style, might get you laid.

Any Black Models? No.

Any Black People? Hardly. One picture of model Jessica White as an example of how not to wear a sheer-paneled jumpsuit. One photo of Serena Williams as an example of how to properly show your curves to the camera. Love advice from the director/writer/star of I Think I Love My Wife, Chris Rock: “I don’t know [what makes a marriage work] anymore than anybody else. You’ve just gotta want to be there.”

Any Plus Size Fashion? Does Serena Williams demonstrating how to show off your curves count?

Serious Business Article(s): A piece about a young woman who found out that she was sold to her adoptive parents by a crooked Rabbi in 1983, and reunited with her biological mother in 2011. In “What Happened to Jessica”, author Jennifer Bleyer takes readers through the mysterious disappearance and tragic discovery of college student Jessica Ronhock. Also, editorial assistant Malia Griggs proves that you don’t need to have had sex in order to work at a publication that teaches you 25 new ways to have it every month in, “I’m a Virgin Working at Cosmo”.

Global or International Story: No.

Column by Celebrity: Andy Samberg tries too hard to be funny and shares the obvious in “7 Signs He Isn’t Relationship Ready”.

News You Can Use: Breaking: Random guys on twitter find “nip slips” and “yoga pants” to be instant turn-ons.

Random Beauty Story: In “Look Hot the Morning After” you learn how to pack a hook-up emergency kit, complete with facial wipes and breath spray.

Horoscope: Yes! And dude horoscopes are provided as well, to ensure that you utilize sex moves approved for his sign.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: A barely noticeable Salvatore Ferragamo belt that will set you back $625.

Most Affordable (Cute) Thing In The Issue: The red peplum dress from Lulu’s for $28 is a steal, especially when compared to the $4,095 Lanvin version.

Brains: C+
Beauty: B
Diversity: C-

Overall: C


Motto: n/a

Cover Model: Gwen Stefani, looking not just pretty in pink but downright gorgeous.

Cover Line: “The Fashion Issue: All You Need”

Page Count: 550 (beefy)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “People often debate whether fashion is art, but one thing is certain, fashion and art are constant collaborators.” — Glenda Bailey.

Line From Cover Profile:

Gwen is, in a word, chill. She is a well-liked, scandal-free member of the Hollywood glitterati. As we leave lunch, she bumps into Charlize Theron (“Hey, girl,” is Gwen’s greeting), who has just shaved her head for a role in Mad Max: Fury Road, and has no problem teasing her about the look. “You’re insane — you’re like a skinhead!” Gwen says. “I’m so jealous.”

Additional Celeb Stories: An interview with Karl Lagerfeld about his cat, Choupette; an article about the actress who plays Lady Mary from Downton Abbey; a short piece on Vanessa Paradis.

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: “The Best Of What’s New” involves a model wearing an $11,960 Lanvin dress under a blue sky in a deserted landscape. (Fig. 10) “Clothes Horse,” shot by Terry Richardson, features a shiny-hair model posing in various horse-racing scenes, including with a crop, with a jockey and with a horse. (Fig. 11)

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: Miranda Kerr, naked, except for boots.

Any Black Models? Cora Emmanuel is one of two models in a “Chic In The Street” story shot by Tommy Ton, which is supposed to look street bloggery but just looks fake.

Any Black People? “Where The Wild Things Are” features artist Nick Cave in his sound suits… which Vogue did in 2010. Azaelia Banks is mentioned in the music section.

Any Plus Size Fashion? Nope.

Serious Business Article(s): Elizabeth Wurtzel talks about looking better at 45 than 25. Naomi Wolf swears that “real men” like feminists.

News You Can Use: Buns are back. Simon Doonan declares that orange skin is out.

Scary Beauty Story: Dermapen treatments will minimize your wrinkles with tiny vibrating needles; all you need are three to four sessions two to four weeks apart, priced at $250 to $650 each. It’s that easy!

Horoscope: Yes. Virgo, even when no one is watching, live as though someone were.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: A $70,000 Tiffany bracelet and a $49,1000 Hermes bag are nothing when you can get a $190,000 Cora ring.

Something we liked we could actually afford: Still looking!

Brains: B+

Beauty: B

Diversity: C-

Overall: C+


Motto: The beauty expert

Cover Line: “Amazingly Shiny Hair”

Cover Model: Sofia Vergara, looking like Monica Belluci in a Dolce and Gabbana ad.

Page Count: 232 (slim)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “Jolie-laide, or pretty-ugly, always seemed liked wishful thinking to me […] Beauty isn’t fair or democratic. But Diana Vreeland proved that none of that matters.” — Linda Wells

Line From Cover Profile: “Some people ask me, ‘Are you scared that you are stereotyping Latin women? And I don’t even know why that’s supposed to be bad,” Vergara says. “I mean, this is who we are. We’re loud. We’re passionate. We’re colorful. We’re voluptuous. I would never prefer to be called boring or that ‘She has no ass.’ Or ‘She’s very quiet.’ So I am not scared of the stereotype of the Latin woman, because I think it’s fantastic.'”

Line From Additional Celeb Profile: ’80s model Kim Alexis: “[After high school] I moved to New York City and started working immediately. I had my first magazine cover and my first national ad, for Elizabeth Arden, within months. I was very comfortable with beauty photographs; I could angle my face and project whatever expression they wanted. But as well as I was doing, [ modeling agent John Casablancas] told me that I needed to lose 15 pounds. I’d never before looked in the mirror and not liked what I saw, but the moment those words were uttered, I thought, I’m not good enough.”

Beauty Feature Shoot Concept: “Fall In Lust” is about “aggressively sexy” makeup, so naturally it’s shot in a menage-a-trois scenario (Fig. 12).

Any Black Models? Not in the feature well, no.

Any Black People? Nope.

Any Plus Size Fashion? No.

Serious Business Article(s): “Bronze Backlash,” about the dangers of spray tanning. In addition, makeup artist Scott Barnes has a first-person essay about being Jennifer Lopez’s makeup artist for nine years; he was responsible for her bronze glow, but being on call took its toll: “Maintaining a home or a relationship became impossible. A woman in my office had to adopt my dog.” Then, after a misunderstanding in 2004, “They didn’t tell me I was fired. They just stopped calling.”

News You Can Use: If you want to be photographed for a style blog, you have to “be unique.” Also, there’s a four-page story on how nail art is “infiltrating the mainstream.”

Horoscope: No.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: White-gold Cartier watch, $33,200.

Something we could actually afford: L’Oreal Paris Colour Caresse lipcolor in blushing sequin, $9.99.

Brains: D

Beauty: B

Diversity: F

Overall: D

Marie Claire

Motto: n/a

Cover Line: “The Big Fashion Issue.”

Cover Model: Miley Cyrus, looking like she’s auditioning for Falcon Crest.

Page count: 382 (meaty)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “After a summer in high sandals, I am embracing the smoking loafer and the ankle-skimming pant, and holding on to my peplums for another season.” — Joanna Coles

Line From Cover Profile: “As Cyrus talks, her engagement ring catches the last rays of sun and flickers, a moonbeam strapped to her finger.”

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: “Wild Mannered,” in which brightly dyed fur coats are shot in a sunny meadow and in front of rose bushes. “Going Public,” a “reimagining” of Wall Street, in which a woman plays Gordon Gekko, complete with gelled hair and ties (Fig. 13) “The Dark Knight Rises,” in which a goth-esque model wears $3,000 dresses while sitting on rocks. (Fig 14)

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: In “Ornate Expectations” a morose model poses in $5,000 Louis Vuitton pants with her legs splayed wide open. “Prairie Home Companions” features “farm-to-closet staple” boots and bags. On page 295, a $1545 high-heeled boot balances on a bale of hay. Closet staple, y’all!

Any Black Models? Not in the feature well, no. “Postcards From Beijing” is about how hot Asia is; page 206 features four Asian models from the Armani show.

Any Black People? On page 229 is a gorgeous portrait of “Alissa,” which is not her real name, as part of a story called “Girls 4 Sale.” It’s about Backpage.com, online sex transactions, and Andrea Powell, who founded FAIR Girls — a nonprofit that helps underage girls escape prostitution.

Any Plus Size Fashion? “Big Girl in a Skinny World” column on page 190.

Serious Business Article(s): The aforementioned Backpage.com piece. A story about FOMA — Fear Of Missing Out. An interview with Naomi Wolf. “Army Girl,” a profile of a 25-year-old in the Israeli Defense forces. “t’s Not Enough To Be Smart,” an interview with Orit Gadiesgm CEO of Bain & Company.

News You Can Use: The mag suggests you spend your weekend doing a “fall fashion workout,” seeing some art, taking a cooking, drawing, improv or cocktail-mixing class, and then staging a flash mob. No, really. Party like it’s 2004!

Notable Beauty Story: Pages 350-351 contain “Turkish delights” — that is, beauty treatments you can get in Istanbul.

Horoscope: Yes. Cancer is working too hard; someone has a crush on Aquarius.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: The editors have worked really hard to hide most of the prices. If it’s under $6,000, the price is in print, but most designer items are “price upon request.” With all the fur and jewelry in the issue, it seems obvious that the $5,000 Vuitton pants are not even close to winning the “priciest” prize. That said, there is one entire page — 136 — where everything is under $100. (Fig. 15)

Something we liked we could actually afford: BCBG ring, $28.

Brains: B+

Beauty: C+

Diversity: D-

Overall: C


Motto: Cherchez La Femme

Cover Line: “Fall Fashion Now!”

Cover Model: Katy Perry, looking like a Japanese Real Doll.

Page count: 602 (weighty)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “It may seem trivial — al this talk about clothes and beauty — but caring about the way you look is actually important to your sense of well-being and self-worth, and even Naomi Wolf, who got famous for portraying beauty standards as a massive conspiracy against women, seems to have softened her views on this, at least somewhat.” — Roberta Myers

Line From Cover Profile:

We’re sitting in the garden at the Chateau Marmont, the storied celeb clubhouse. Perry says she feels at home here, partly because she can practically walk to the Chateau from her nearby home… She turns to the waitress: “Can I have a Shirley Temple, darling?”


Does she chant a specific mantra? “I can’t tell you that,” she says, her face awash in mock horror “That’s the nimber-one rule in transcendental meditation.” She clutches her purse and makes to leave, smiling as she says: “I wish I could. It’s really good. It might be my last words. It might be part of my last, dying breath.”

Bonus Celeb Piece: Adam Scott is tucked all the way at the end of the issue. He doesn’t watch porn, because: “I’m one of those people who can’t help but wonder what’s gone wrong in these girls’ lives. The guys in porn freak me out; the girls I feel terrible for. I can’t do it.”

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: “Body Of Work,” tailored, masculine ensembles shot on the streets of New York. The model poses as with the same face, over and over, as male models pretend to be construction workers in the background, carrying random weird geometric things.Then there’s “Heroine Complex,” a leather-oriented shoot; in one pic the model has a ray gun, in the other, she wields a samurai sword (Fig. 16) “Youth In Revolt” is that tacky 70s shit from Miu Miu shot against a crusty urban background. “Heat Index” is a sexy, saturated color shoot of a dazed blonde by a motel pool.

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: “Basic Training” is a sad, muted black-and white story about, um, basics. “Everyday chic.” If you consider a $5,000 Michael Kors poncho a “basic.”

Bonus Fashion Shoot: “All The Single Ladies” features Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan and Kirsten Dunst, modeling and promoting their new movie, Bachelorette.

Any Black Models? Yes! OMG! In a feature! The story is called “Grande Dame,” and model Jenell Williams gets 10 pages all to herself. (Fig. 17)

Any Black People? A three-page piece called “Brooklyn’s Finest” features Solange Knowles hosting an “ultrahip crowd” read: multiethnic! — in her home. It’s offical: Elle is cool. (Fig. 18)

Any Plus Size Fashion? Nope.

Serious Business Article(s): Two pages on politics: “The War For Women.” Miranda Purves interviews Naomi Woolf, and includes this pullquote:

A general malaise set in as I read Wolf; the well of rage I carry around me about my husband and men in general dripped its bitter poison into my veins.

“The Avenger” is a profile of Gloria Allred.

News You Can Use: “Preppy,” the “most American of styles, has gone global.

“Aspirational” travel story: If you want a “neogypsy vacation” you should head to Todos, Santos, Mexico — according to this piece shilling Julia Chaplin’s new book, Gypset Travel.

Horoscope: Yes. Susan Miller believes the beginning of the month will be important for you, Virgo.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: Tons of missing prices, just phone numbers, suggesting YOU call and find out how much an Hermès watch or Bulgari ring costs. But the dress on the cover is $10,250; there are some Bochic earrings going for $44,750; a Fendi skirt for $44,300. The Dior earrings on page 570 are a whopping $130,000.

Something we could actually afford: $30 quilted skirt from Uniqlo.

Brains: B

Beauty: B

Diversity: B

Overall: B


Motto: n/a

Cover Line: “916 pages of spectacular FALL FASHION for all.”

Page count: 916 (aka hernia-inducingly HUGE)

Quote From The Editor’s Letter: “I am not entirely sure anyone realizes quite what goes into creating a shoot. It’s much more than just choosing a model or picking the clothes; it’s a quicksilver understanding of wherever fashion is at that particular moment, and presenting a sampling of life and culture as we are experiencing it at that time.” — Anna Wintour

Line From Cover Profile: “Before leaving the hotel, Gaga is torn about what to wear. “Should I change?” she says to no one in particular, and I can feel her team holding their breath. (Gaga changing outfits, as one can imagine, is akin to launching the space shuttle.) Yes, it is decided. She will change. She slips into her hotel suite and, a very long while later, reappears wearing a plastic star in her hair and the craziest little dress in Japan.”

Fashion Feature Location Shoot Concept: “The Custom of The Country,” a recreation of Edith Wharton’s life, starring Natalia Vodianova as Wharton, Jeffrey Eugenides as Henry James and Elijah Wood as Wharton’s chauffeur. Yes, really. There’s also “El Dorado,” in which Stella Tennant wears embellished clothing in Peru “as luxe as the fabled treasures of the Incan empire.” You know what that means: Indigenous people serve as props. (Fig. 19) Yet another location shoot is titled “Space Odyssey.” Featuring futuristic clothes on Karen Elson and shot by Steven Klein at Virgin Galactic’s Spaceship Company in Mojave, California, it’s actually incredibly beautiful. (Fig. 20 and 21)

Fashion Feature Studio Shoot Concept: “Art and Craft,” a geometrical clothing story that’s kind of a snooze, but an Asian model (Liu Wen) and a black model (Joan Smalls) are used!

Bonus Fashion Shoot: Yet another shoot (this is a thick issue!) is called “Her Brilliant Career,” and features model wearing “office wardrobe” outfits with neon wigs, because that’s how to succeed in business without really trying. (Fig. 22)

Any Black Models? Yes, Joan Smalls has two pictures in one feature shoot.

Any Black People? Quite a few, actually: A small item on designers Tracy Cox and Troy Arnold. A small item on tennis phemon Sloane Stephens. Naomi Campbell is mentioned in a story about models through the years. Plus! Alicia Keys, A$AP Rocky, Zoe Kravitz, Azealia Banks, Solange Knowles, Chanel Iman, Shala Monroque, rapper Dominique Young Unique are all part of the the “Vogue 120” — a list of “stylish faces, talents and voices” under age 45.

Any Plus Size Fashion? That’s hilarious. When the cover says “for all” it means “for all thin and wealthy women.”

Serious Business Article(s): Somalian model Ubah Hassan visits Kenya as an aid worker, fighting water shortages in the region. Also, Ann Patchett’s piece, “The Sense Of An Ending,” about the death of her sixteen-year-old dog, is completely heartbreaking. We cried! In addition, there’s a profile on Chelsea Clinton, “a young woman ready to change the world.”

News You Can Use: There is a nineties club-shoe revival happening. And Asian models are in: “a welcome plethora… has hit a happy critical mass, reflecting the burgeoning international interest.” Congrats, Asians! Vogue thinks you’re trendy right now. Hope it lasts. (Fig. 23)

Weird beauty story: “Virtually Fit” is about taking an exercise class via Skype on your laptop.

Horoscope: No.

Most Expensive Thing In The Issue: There’s a story about “modern” fur coats, but all the items are price upon request, so let’s go with the Balmain dress on Chanel Iman — $35,400 — paired with a sleeveless Balmain jacket: $42,500.

Something we could actually afford: Chanel nail polish, $26.

Brains: C+

Beauty: B

Diversity: B

Overall: B-

Fig. 1, from Lucky

Fig. 2, from Lucky

Fig. 3, from Glamour

Fig. 4, from Glamour

Fig. 5, from InStyle

Fig. 6, from InStyle

Fig. 7, from W

Fig. 8, from W

Fig. 9, from Cosmo

Fig. 10, from Bazaar

Fig. 11, from Bazaar

Fig. 12, from Allure

Fig. 13, Marie Claire

Fig. 14, Marie Claire

Fig. 15, Marie Claire

Fig. 16, Elle

Fig. 17, Elle

Fig. 18, Elle

Fig. 19, Vogue

Fig. 20, Vogue

Fig. 21, Vogue

Fig. 22, from Vogue

Fig. 23, from Vogue

Intern Tanisha Love Ramirez contributed to this project.

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