They say you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but that’s not true when it comes to fashion magazines. Each month we dissect covers far and wide using our patented Anna Wintour rating system.
Jason Bourne star Matt Damon is the star of this month’s haul, which overall is a pretty strong prelude to September. And unlike the usual celebstravagnza that will be plastered across the newsstand next month, there are some real fashion standouts in August—InStyle, Harper’s Bazaar UK, even Vogue! (Also, we’re really glad someone gave Patsy and Edina their due.)
Move over, Britney. Gwen Stefani stars in the best comeback shoot we’ve seen this year. Who doesn’t love an Armani cape?! Somewhere, Iggy Azalea is sitting in a corner looking at this Valentino moment muttering, “It could’ve been me.
What a rough year for Zoe Saldana. Luckily, her turn in Star Trek Beyond is way better than this Terry Richardson-wannabe cover shot. What is she doing with her hands? Trying to cast off all those bad Nina vibes?
This month shows an unmistakably British turn for Elle’s cover approach, that cringe-inducing Becky-hair tease aside. And if FKA Twigs’s styling here is any indication, all accessories in the near future will be helpful for getting through any and all century-old doors one encounters. Oh, and Jean Genie is a drag queen we’d love to meet!
Madame Figaro China
Gaspard Ulliel sure grew up between his 2004 turn in A Very Long Engagement and going full frontal as the legendary designer in 2015's Saint Laurent. His beauty is a timeless classic—just like the watch co-starring on this cover.
What a fantastic cover debut for Gigi, and who could ask for a better co-star than decathlete Ashton Eaton? (This ass, though. And Gigi's jump!)
This cover recalls the golden age of fashion editorials and is a fleeting moment of brightness amid all the blight leading up to the Summer Games.
Some editors would dismiss this cover for its imperfections, but they make it all the more special: The barely-visible pupil in Jaden’s right eye. The way the hand floats awkwardly—almost like it belongs to someone else. How the collar is laying tucked in on his chest.
We can’t forgive that “Denim Daze” headline, though.
This look just leaves a Vacation Bible School craft-project aftertaste, especially with those dead bird appliqués looking like they were scraped from the ground in a parking lot.
Bad Mom Mila went for the bad-denim jumpsuit.
Harper’s Bazaar UK
This cover and the 50-page(!) editorial inside are a phenomenal play on the "fashion as art" trope.
The textures, colors and moods evoke the paintings of Lawrence Alma-Tadema and the Pre-Raphaelites. Few editors can work all a season's trends together so organically and yet with such whimsy. A true win.
While we’re way past the “Meet Amy Schumer" stage, this cover is a breath of fresh air after that stiff July Vogue cover.
Amy’s loving the look and this is definitely the most fun photo of the shoot.
Zendaya sllegedly flew to Rio de Janeiro for this cover shoot, though you can’t tell here. Everything about the tone, focus and pose like it was manufactured in a studio, or in post-production. Green screen or not, Zendaya definitely deserves better than those pants.
This Out cover is divine. AbFab is finally back and what better way to spoof Patsy and Edina's over-the-top decadence?
It actually makes you want to take up smoking—if only to bother other people.
Town and Country
Is Diane Kruger looking so sad here because she's broken up with Joshua Jackson, or because the editors made her look at the all the cover text while they took her picture. We're exhausted just looking at it here.
Her jacket is fun, though.
Esquire UK, GQ, GQ Australia, GQ France
Who knew there was so much Matt Damon to go around? It's like every editor exhaled at the same time once Jason Bourne was given a late-July release: "Now we know who can be on the August cover!"
There's a Matt Damon for everyone here: British brunching Matt Damon on Esquire UK, sexy fun uncle Matt Damon American GQ, auditioning for James Bond Matt Damon on Australian GQ and Matt Damon, the one and only Jason Bourne on French GQ, of course. Who knew he was so versatile? Also, why would you hide his sexy gray hair in the shadows, Australian GQ?
What’s not to love about British singer/songwriter Jess “Yaasss” Glynne? Her name might not be instantly recognizable, but you've definitely bopped along to her hits—like “Hold My Hand,” “Real Love,” and “Rather Be.”
A lot of InStyle UK covers read like B-sides to the American version, but Glynne's never looked better.
You’ll never hear us complain about Lucky Blue Smith's many cover appearances, but someone better book him soon for something a little less expected than this soon.
We’re ready for the industry to start channeling its prettiest boy into its weirder, darker stories.
Also, we can't help but notice another out-of-focus hand here. Is this a new trend.
This month’s Dad-of-the-Newsstand title goes to Liev Schreiber. hands down. With that peppered scruff, Ray Donovan can be a prick with us anytime.
Margot Robbie's been called an “It” girl so much this year, we guess it has to be true. But this VF cover is totally just-okay.
Maybe The editors were hoping you’d stare at Margot and not the doom and gloom cover teases. Trump! Cosby! The NRA!
Elle Man Vietnam
Sang Woo Kim transitions into fashion’s favorite season on this gorgeous cover. We’d never leave the forest if he was frolicking through it with us.
That black top reads a little flat under that jacket, but the natural framing of the greenery around him is a nice touch.
Harper’s Bazaar Germany
In 2016, there are indeed "stranger things" than a Winona Ryder comeback: If she wins an Emmy, we hope she continues the nostalgia styling on view here.
Pleated top, big hair, don't care.
We leave things on a high note this month, with a woman who can do no wrong, style-wise: There's just under two months until Quantico returns, so we hope this is just the start of a full-on Priyanka Chopra newsstand blitz.
If there was a template for the mood an August cover should invoke, this would be it.