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Fashion magazines shun models for celebrities

Web posted on:
Tuesday, February 16, 1999 12:18:57 PM EST

From Jill Brooke
CNN Showbiz Today Correspondent

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Magazine editors used to turn models into stars, but these days the same editors are turning stars into models instead. Fashion magazine editors, believing that people don't care so much about models anymore, are increasingly going after celebrities to don their covers.

According to Allure editor Linda Wells, "Models are not as captivating as they used to be. There are not a current crop of models who are larger than life and who you know their names and know about their lives, and the torch has really been passed to celebrities in Hollywood."

The torch has been passed for one simple reason: Celebrities have heated up newsstand sales. A Vogue issue featuring Oprah Winfrey sold over 800,000 copies, while Marie Claire's Courtney Cox cover sold more than 550,000 copies.

With such strong sales, many magazines plan on using even more celebrity covers this year, which doesn't give models much to smile about.

"The modeling community is a little bummed out by it, because, you know, getting on covers is a great benchmark in a model's career. And if that's shut out to you, it's a problem," says Cosmopolitan editor Kate White.

'Does make for great reading'

So one may wonder why readers would want to give these girls the brush-off.

Supermodel Heidi Klum speculates on the trend, saying, "People always look for someone they can relate to, and they watch people on TV and movies and things like that and they feel like they know them. And that's why they want to know more about them."

Singer Shania Twain, a Cosmo cover girl herself, agrees. "It does make for great reading as well, especially for women who buy magazines," she says. "They see the woman on the cover and there's a real story inside about that person because they have another career. Their career isn't being beautiful."

Another advantage for magazines is that when a celebrity is on the cover, it is usually to promote a current project. For instance, when Harper's Bazaar featured Meg Ryan on the cover, the magazine benefited not only from interest in Ryan, but from the heightened interest in her film, "You've Got Mail."

It's not all gloom and doom for supermodels. Not all celebrity covers are instant hits, and American models are still in demand for Asian and European magazines.

Turning a negative into a positive, some modeling agencies are signing up stars like Gwyneth Paltrow. And many models are seeking other careers, because these days, they really need both style and substance.

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Marie Claire
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