I received an email from Anna Wintour today explaining the reasons behind her iconic first Vogue cover. Ok so the email was a blast to the millions of email subscribers but it was nice to see Anna’s name in my inbox. The Vogue editor explains that they decided to put model Michaela Bercu in stonewashed jeans and a beaded Christian Lacroix jacket because the model had gained a bit of weight while on vacation and could not fit in the matching skirt.
Back in 1988, the street style shot of Bercu by Peter Lindbergh got the fashion world talking and the concept of mixing high and low pieces together to create a more casual look. You can say it was making fashion more accessible to Vogue’s readers. So can we credit Lindbergh as the originator of street style photography? Below is the letter from Anna.
“Working on this September’s 120th anniversary cover of a Marc Jacobs–clad Lady Gaga made me think about my first cover as the editor of Vogue. It was November 1988, and starred the Israeli model Michaela Bercu, photographed by Peter Lindbergh and styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele. Michaela was wearing a Christian Lacroix jacket with a beaded cross and stonewashed Guess jeans. The jacket was part of a suit, but the skirt didn’t fit Michaela; she had been back home and had gained a little weight. Not that that mattered. In fact, it only reinforced the idea: Take couture’s haughty grandeur, playfully throw it headlong into real life, and see what happens.
What none of us expected was to run that picture on the cover, least of all the magazine’s printers, who asked if there’d been some mistake. It was so unlike the elegant close-ups typical of Vogue’s covers back then. This one broke all the rules. It looked easy, casual, like a moment snapped on the street, which was the whole point. Afterwards, people applied all sorts of interpretations: It was about mixing high and low, Michaela was pregnant, it was a religious statement. None of that was true. I had just looked at that picture and sensed the winds of change. And you can’t ask for more from a cover image than that.”
She also shares her favorite Vogue images of all time, below.