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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (she really loves fashion!)
…just to name a few amazing ladies we’d love to see land a cover story of your magazine.