Fashion: Cover Stars

Today on the blog, Mary Jane Fashion looks at some of the most iconic magazine covers…

Being featured on the front of a glossy magazine is a career high for many actresses, models, and singers. Not only can this entail being dressed up in couture with the best hair and makeup and being photographed by some of the world’s most well-respected photographers, appearing on the cover undoubtedly raises and immortalises your profile. As a result, some who are photographed for a cover opt to make a statement in doing so, in an attempt to change mass culture’s perceptions of people and their bodies. There have been many iconic magazine covers over the years, for example British Vogue’s memorial issue of Princess Diana, Marilyn Monroe on the cover of Life, Ellen de Generes coming out on the cover of Time and Kim Kardashian famously naked on the cover of Paper. Here, we’ve listed some of our personal favourites, thanks to the interesting people featured, the way they have been photographed and their effect on popular culture.

Donyale Luna

  • Donyale Luna – British Vogue March 1966

Donyale Luna was the first black model to feature on the cover of British Vogue, and indeed was the first black model to feature on any of the other international Vogues. Although the editors at Vogue may not have known it, this was a watershed moment. The USA was in the grips of the Civil Rights Movement, where segregation was still widely accepted and black people were effectively persecuted by all-white authorities and institutions. Placing Donyale Luna on one of the world’s most popular and widely read high-fashion magazines was a big deal, declaring that blackness was also a form of beauty, alongside the culturally established and accepted beauty of white models. Peeking coyly through her perfectly manicured fingers, Luna was allegedly told to cover her face to mask her ethnicity slightly. However, there is no denying how stern and driven she looks; it is a stare that anticipates change, looking to the future, conveying her determination and her movement in a direction of equality between black and white models. She paved the way for Beverly Johnson to appear on the cover of American Vogue in August 1974, which in turn facilitated the emergence of models like Naomi Campbell and Jourdan Dunn. It is glaringly obvious that fashion still has a diversity problem, with the vast majority of the models walking the runway hailing from Caucasian backgrounds. We should, therefore, focus much more on the trailblazers for diversity like Donyale Luna, so that the variety of women who enjoy and buy into fashion can be properly represented by the industry.

John and Yoko

  • Yoko Ono and John Lennon – Rolling Stone, January 1981

Shot by hugely respected American portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, this cover became iconic because it captured John Lennon and Yoko Ono a mere five hours before he was murdered. Initially, the cover was only meant to feature Lennon alone, but he insisted that Ono also joined him. It is a striking and emotional shot, featuring a fully clothed Ono, (shop her style at Mary Jane Fashion), with her hair splayed out whilst a naked Lennon curls up to her and kisses the side of her face. Their deep connection and intimacy was conveyed honestly and without fanfare, with Lennon declaring himself that Leibovitz had ‘captured our relationship exactly’. This translated to the wider public who saw a couple very much in love, willing to expose themselves physically as well as emotionally.


  • Demi Moore – Vanity Fair, August 1991

Demi Moore broke all the rules with her Vanity Fair cover. In an industry where thin, prepubescent bodies are privileged perhaps above all else, Moore appeared heavily pregnant and nude on the front cover of this iconic magazine. This image sought to not only shoot her to popular culture stardom thanks to its controversial nudity, but also because it cast a light on the, let’s face it, magical nature of the female body. Protruding and curving around heavily, Moore’s bump presents the reality that women’s body’s face during the intense and transient time of pregnancy. It removes the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, the limited notion of femininity perpetuated by the fashion industry and presents a woman, she might have been any woman, natural and empowered by the biological changes taking place in her body. Like the cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, this photograph was taken by Annie Leibovitz, and saw many more pregnant famous women adopt the same pose, including Britney Spears, Brooke Shields, Claudia Schiffer, Nia Long and Monic Bellucci.

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