Covers & Content: August 2017

How diverse were the August 2017 issues of Canada’s top fashion magazines? We report on this every month, taking into consideration the cover star as well as the representation in the fashion editorials. Read on to find out how this month’s issues fared.

Editor’s Note: Our top Canadian fashion magazines’ publishing calendars have been all over the map this year. FASHION’s “Summer” issue covered June and July, while Elle Canada’s “Summer” issue seemed to cover July and August (see below).

The Magazine: FASHION

The Cover Star: Gigi Gorgeous

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White. Note that this issue of FASHION is a record-breaker–this is the first Canadian fashion magazine in the history of this column (which we’ve been doing for about 4 years now) to feature a trans* cover star. While it’s been way too long in the making (hello, Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, Andreja Pejic, Jenna Talackova) who would also make excellent candidates for cover stars hint hint), still, FASHION leads the way!

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: Yes. This issue had two fashion editorials, the first starring one thin, black model. The second editorial starred folks of all backgrounds and genders.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No.


Note: this information is the same as what was reported last month

The Magazine: Elle Canada

The Cover Star: Michaela Kocianova

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: No! They had an opportunity to have some diversity and totally didn’t choose to; there was one fashion  editorial in this month’s issue and it starred two thin, white models. As such, this is a Whiteout Issue.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No.

Excerpt: Laverne Cox on Femme Aesthetics in BUST


Above: Laverne Cox. Photography by Danielle Levitt in BUST June/July 2015

The women [Cox and bell hooks] agree on much, but hooks called into question Cox’s presentation of femininity–how her long blond wigs, dresses, and traditional feminine beauty embody what some feminist women have attempted to reject or avoid. Onstage, Cox responded in part, “If I’m embracing a patriarchal gaze with this presentation, it’s the way that I’ve found something that feels empowering…I’ve never been interested in being invisible and erased.”

Cox, who remains in touch with hooks, tells me “everybody” asks her about that exchange. I ask her if it’s insulting to suggest that her high-femme presentation is, in fact, a capitulation to the patriarchy rather than an empowered choice, and she responds carefully. “What bell hooks would say to that is that we make choices-and this is me being a huge fan of bell hooks-but there’s something almost binary that suggests either you are moving against cis-normative, hetero-normative, imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy, or you’re complicit with it. That kind of binary is really, deeply problematic. I think it’s more complicated. I’ve gone through all sorts of aesthetic phases. I had a shaved head in college,. I wore makeup and I was gender-nonconformist. I also had box braids and a mohawk in college and a little bit after. So I’ve gone through all these different phases aesthetically. I love where I’m at now. I feel like I’ve evolved into being more myself.” But, she adds, “I think at the end of the day, I’m very much working within the system.”

-from “She’s All That” by Sara Benincasa in BUST June/July 2015

Covers & Content Annual Review 2014, Part 1: Elle Canada

2014 has come to a close, so it’s time to look back on every issue printed this year by Canada’s three top fashion magazines: Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare, to see how diverse they were overall and compared to last year.

This review will be divided into three parts (one for each magazine), just like we did last year. Posting will be done alphabetically, so Elle Canada is up first!

For a review of this project, please check out the FAQ page here.


Elle Canada, what happened to you this year??


Last year, Elle Canada came in second for most cover stars of colour, and this year they had ZERO cover stars of colour exclusively. A note should be made though–yes, Kayla Clarke made an appearance on the August 2014 cover BUT there are three serious caveats to consider:

1. She did not star solo on the cover, but was one of three models on the cover.


2. As you can see from the cover, she appeared as part of a Token Diversity Cover, which may be considered akin to a Token Diversity Spread (Token Diversity Spread: When a fashion magazine books/uses an ensemble of models, including some models of colour or models representing other minorities in the fashion world like plus size models or visibly older models, but are careful not to allow the minorities chosen to make up the majority of the spread or the majority of models chosen.)

3. She (nor any of the other models for that matter) did not get an in-depth interview or accompanying story to go with her cover. The three models shared a one paragraph-long interview.

This is pretty shocking, as Elle Canada had 4 cover stars of colour last year, and its competitors, Flare and Fashion both managed more cover stars of colour (we’ll get there, don’t want to spoil the total yet). Tsk, tsk, tsk.


The January 2014 issue of Elle Canada was a Whiteout Issue, starring Cate Blanchett on the cover, and contained two fashion editorials, both starring one thin, white model each. This issue stood out as it contained an interview with Jenna Talackova. Incidentally, she would have been a great cover star for Elle Canada–take note, editorial team.


The February issue was pretty slim, Kate Mara starred on the cover and it had no editorials, only a trend/runway report.


Scan 3

Above: Scan from editorial “Top Ten” in Elle Canada March 2014.

For the first time this year, Elle Canada returned to a fashion magazine classic and had a model star on the cover, Logan, who is Canadian. Unfortunately, this didn’t do much for diversity as Logan appears to be thin and white. There were three editorials this month. Two of these editorials were status quo, starring one thin, white model each. The third editorial starred four black models, representing the first time this year Elle Canada booked models of colour for an editorial. Something interesting to note though about this editorial:

1. It was the first and only time a female model appeared entirely nude in a shoot throughout Elle Canada‘s publishing year.

Scan 4

 Above: Scan from editorial “Top Ten” in Elle Canada March 2014.

2. It is interesting that four black models had to share a spread when immediately following, two white models got to star in their own spread.


April was a blah blah basic Whiteout Issue, starring Emily VanCamp on the cover, and two editorials both starring one thin, white model.


elle canada may 2014

Above: Perhaps this model is sulking because the issue she was in, May 2014, just missed the mark of being a really great, feminist issue.

Damn, too bad the May Elle Canada was a Whiteout Issue, because it was otherwise Elle Canada‘s most feminist issue of the year! It literally had an article on fashion and feminism (which, you know, is kind of what we’re all about here at The Closet Feminist). This issue also focused on female artists like Winnie Truong which was really cool (for more on women, art, and fashion, be sure to check out our Inspired by Art Herstory column). Lastly, it featured a Kelis interview, and she’s badass. Interestingly, both Elle Canada and Fashion featured brief interviews with Kelis this year to discuss her latest album, Food, but neither decided to give her a cover story. The May cover, by the way, featured Rose Byrne.


June was yet another Whiteout Issue, starring Emma Roberts on the cover, and had two editorials, both featuring one thin, white model each.


Scan 5

Above: The weird, second “cover” featuring Ashley Graham in Elle Canada‘s July issue.

The July issue of Elle Canada was kinda….weird. It was another Whiteout Issue, and Gisele was the cover star, but then they did this odd second cover, immediately behind Gisele’s starring top ‘plus’ model Ashley Graham.

The pull quote on Graham’s “cover” reads, “Everyone wants to talk about plus size models right now.” Ironically (and sadly), Graham’s interview is super-short. To add insult to injury, this issue has two editorials, but there isn’t a ‘plus’ model in sight, as both feature one thin, white model each.

Lastly, it seems Graham’s cover is a classic controversial cover–we can’t really see her face or her body, which is a fatphobic trick magazines seem to use when they have a ‘plus’ cover star.

Given all this, the July issue seems like the biggest #fail of the year for Elle Canada, not to mention its the FOURTH Whiteout Issue in a row.


Scan 6

Above: A scan of one of the two pages that the three models shared. Honestly, it’s a bad picture of all of them. Way to phone it in, Elle Canada.

Now we come to the August issue, which has already been torn apart in the opening comments. Technically, it breaks Elle Canada‘s streak of Whiteout Issues, but just barely. As mentioned, there were three cover stars, Canadian models Pamela Bernier, Sophie Touchet, and Kayla Clarke. The models, however, do not get an editorial nor a full length interview, the three of them share a paragraph-long interview.

Weirdly, there is one editorial this month, and while it gets points for showing off the creations of Canadian designers, it stars one thin, white model. This is kind of odd, because they clearly had Kayla Clarke in their studio at one point, why not just book her for this shoot instead?



Above: Grace Mahary stars in “Mod Love” in Elle Canada September 2014

And now we come to the September Issue of  Elle Canada, which is any fashion magazine’s biggest issue of the year. Thankfully, it is not a Whiteout Issue. It starred Mia Wasikowska on the cover, and had three editorials. The first starred Canadian Model (and woman of colour) Grace Mahary exclusively, yay! The other two editorials were status quo, featuring a single thin, white model each.


October saw to another Whiteout Issue, featuring Drew Barrymore on the cover. Despite having three editorials this month, Elle Canada decided to not book a single model of colour, as all three starred one thin, white model each. Booooo!



Above: Hereith Paul stars in “Evening Star” in Elle Canada November 2014.

Masters of Sex star Lizzy Caplan landed the November cover of Elle Canada. This issue had three editorials, the first starred one thin, black model, the other two were status quo editorials.


Apparently committed to finish off their super-status quo year, Elle Canada closed out their publishing year with Hilary Duff on the cover of their December issue. There were two editorials, both starring a thin, white model each. Talk about anticlimactic!


Screen Shot 2015-01-04 at 1.43.41 PM

Above is a table of how each 2014 issue of Elle Canada fared in terms of diversity this past year.

Elle Canada put out twelve issues this year, though only featured a cover star of colour. Of these twelve issues, seven of them were Whiteout Issues.

They did twenty-six editorials total this year. Of these, none featured a ‘plus’ size model. Three editorials total featured models of colour.

Bottom line, Elle Canada, you are a great magazine, but we know you can do better, you did last year! If you’re stuck on building a more diverse publication, The Closet Feminist humbly recommends you consider the following celebs as cover stars for 2015:


Jenna Talackova

Lupita Nyong’o

Laverne Cox

Janet Mock

Jourdan Dunn

FKA Twigs

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (she really loves fashion!)

Alexa Chung

Jamie Chung


Mindy Kaling


Rebel Wilson

Nicki Minaj

Kerry Washington


Melissa McCarthy

Lucy Liu


Stella Jean

…just to name a few amazing ladies we’d love to see land a cover story of your magazine.



TV Icons, Spring 2015 Shows: Mashups Part 3

What if our favourite TV heroines shopped the Spring 2015 runways? Here is Part 3 of our series focusing on what we think they would pick and the occasion that they would wear this outfit for. As a bonus, all of the design houses chosen have a woman holding court as head designer! Check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.


The Show: Orange Is The New Black

The Icon: Sophia


The Actress: Laverne Cox

The Look: Nicole Miller Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: When we see Sophia (Cox) on OITNB, she’s usually in her prison uniform of course. Outside of prison, we could totally see her in this dress. The super-girly hem is balanced with the bold black stripes and painterly pattern–classy, but with just a touch of edge.



The Show: Gilmore Girls

The Icon: Lorelei Gilmore


The Actress: Lauren Graham

The Look: Jenny Packham Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: Fashion was always a hot topic for the Gilmore girls, and LG (Graham) in particular was fond of characterizing her style as a bit more bold and risk-taking. We think she would kill it in this bold romper. It would work for those infamous baby blues, but wouldn’t be too much since it’s just one uniform colour. Plus, the cut is relatively simple, so it wouldn’t be too wild for Stars Hollow.



The Show: Battlestar Galactica

The Icon: Kara Thrace aka Starbuck

Battlestar Galactica - Season 2

The Actress: Katee Sackhoff

The Look: Barbara Bui Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: The sporty, futuristic details scream Starbuck. They put her in dresses for more formal moments in the show, but really, she looked best in more tomboy looks. After all, she was the best pilot in the damn fleet and could drink anyone under the table.



The Show: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Icon: Buffy


The Actress: Sarah Michelle Gellar

The Look: Milly Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: The Slayer definitely favoured sexier-than-most looks in Sunnydale, but her occupation/destiny requires her day to day outfits appropriate for ass-kicking at a moment’s notice. This Milly look even nods to ’90s silhouettes–we’re sure Ms. Summers would approve.



The Show: Adventure Time

The Icon: Marceline, The Vampire Queen


The Actress: Olivia Olson

The Look: Marissa Webb Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: She’s a rockstar, heir to the Nightosphere, and is arguably the ex of the most powerful sovereign in all of Ooo. A bit of a recluse and a trouble-maker, her looks are just as eccentric–big floppy sunhats one day, overalls and rockabilly style the next. The Marissa Webb look above captures all those supa-fierce elements–except she would be wearing boots, not heels, of course.




The Show: Masters of Sex

The Icon: Virginia Johnson


The Actress: Lizzy Caplan

The Look: Tanya Taylor Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: Mrs. Johnson (Caplan) was a trailblazer–the show is based on real-life sex researches William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Johnson was a single mom of two, and despite not having the credentials ‘necessary’ to be doing the work she did with Masters, she did it at any rate. Her wardrobe in the show speaks to this outlier personality–note how in the show her outfit silhouettes and colours are very different from everyone else’s–darker, more form-fitting, etc. Here’s a boss outfit a bold lady of Science could wear today.




The Show: Mad Men

The Icon: Megan Draper


The Actress: Jessica Paré

The Look: Diane von Furstenberg Spring 2015

Why She’s Wearing It: Can’t you just picture the ever-talented Megan (Paré) chillin’ at her LA apartment in this DVF outfit? Add a hair scarf and hoop earrings, and you’ve got the picture of an accomplished, multi-talented young woman int he late 1960s.



All runway images from 

Did you love this post? Good news–this is Part 3/3 of a series of posts. You can have a look at Part 1 here, and check out Part 2 here.

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