An argument could be made that dealing with public scrutiny is the price celebrities pay for their fame. While no person deserves to be harassed by paparazzi or the cyber world, these residuals of involvement in the entertainment industry seem to be understood instead of regarded as offensive. In the past year, Kim Kardashian encountered the brunt of the ugly side of celebrity, having been bullied for her appearance while pregnant throughout the summer, and now, sans baby-weight, for her joint cover for the April issue of Vogue, shared with fiancé Kanye West and shot by renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz. As recently as this week Kardashian couldn’t purchase her Vogue issue from a newsstand without claims of narcissism (side note: If you were on the cover of Vogue, wouldn’t you want a few copies?).
Vogue as a magazine and even Anna Wintour herself have had their priorities and credibility questioned due to featuring the controversial duo on the coveted cover spot. After hitting newsstands, the buzz on social media picked up quickly, as we expect it to. Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar, specifically, tweeted, “Well……I guess I’m canceling my Vogue subscription. Who is with me???” When asked what she thought about the cover, supermodel Naomi Campbell smartly said she had “no comment,” though burst in a short fit of laughter afterwards.
To other fashion industry insiders, the proclaimed Bible of Fashion was laughable well before the April issue. “To me, Vogue is nothing but a tabloid magazine,” said Jeremy Scott, designer for Moschino. “I’m not surprised. It’s not shocking to me in that sense. I don’t think there’s been a model on the cover of Vogue since I was a child.”
What may be the most interesting component of the controversy is the accusation that Kanye West pressured and possibly bribed Wintour to feature his bride-to-be, as opposed to the idea coming from the magazine’s creative team. In an October 2013 interview with Ryan Seacrest, West argued, “There’s no way Kim Kardashian shouldn’t be on the cover of Vogue. She’s like the most intriguing woman right now. She’s got Barbara Walters calling her like everyday . . . and collectively we’re the most influential with clothing.”
Wintour fired back at these claims, assuring readers, “It was, I should add, entirely our idea to do it. You may have read that Kanye begged me to put his fiancée on Vogue’s cover. He did nothing of the sort.”
“Part of the pleasure of editing Vogue, one that lies in a long tradition of this magazine, is being able to feature those who define the culture at any given moment, who stir things up, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it,” said Wintour. “I think we can all agree on the fact that that role is currently being played by Kim and Kanye to a T. (Or perhaps that should be to a K?)”
Despite the ongoing debate, Vogue’s Kimye cover is selling just fine. Though, as a Vogue rep confirmed, magazine officials, “never comment on sales figures,” media outlets forecast that the issue will sell between 300,000 and 400,000 copies. This would put the cover in the Best Sellers realm, joining Beyonce’s March 2013 cover (355,000 copies) and President Obama’s April 2010 cover (300,000 copies). Which leaves us with the question: Was this cover intended to add fuel to what seems to be the Kardashian takeover of pop-culture, or simply an honest tribute to a couple who separately iconize fashion and culture over the past decade?