These double covers are tricky beasts, because inevitably they get compared, and it might not always be a close contest. British Vogue tends to be the darling of the industry because people are obsessed with Edward Enninful, but in this situation, I think it lost out pretty significantly to its Italian counterpart:


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That is just flat-out fabulous. There’s something appealingly retro about it, as if it could have come straight from decades-old archives; it’s uncomplicated, but no less artistic, and her face is utterly captivating. I tried to evaluate the British Vogue cover separately from it, but I saw that one after I saw this, and it was an immediate womp-woooomp moment. So I can’t separate the two in my mind. I don’t think I like this, regardless? But it certainly suffers extra in comparison. I do understand the idea of the contrast between the punk hair and makeup and the elaborate glam of the gown, but I don’t think it works here, and I can’t put my finger on why. Maybe it’s that I don’t think it centers her as much as it does the explosive dress? She seems almost lost in it all, which is hard to do with Gaga. She seems small and it seems large.

Interestingly, Italian Vogue has not had an EIC since its September issue, instead using a locally based supervisor of sorts who reports to both Anna Wintour (as Conde’s overall editorial director) and Enninful (the editorial director of all European Vogues). I’m unclear how direct a hand that means he’d have had, creatively, in the Italian cover, but it must have been a bummer to be so intimately involved with the British Vogue offering, only to see that Vogue Italia aced it so very, very hard. I would LIKE to imagine Anna chortling in her office as she rubber-stamped this, knowing that her presumed successor would be coming in second place, but I suppose that’s a very petty fantasy. Then again… we’re pretty sure Anna is petty, right?

Here’s the interior photo from British Vogue:

ONLINE - Lady Gaga British Vogue December 2021 Inset-1635972881

It’s miles better. Or kilometers, I suppose. It connects amusingly with this moment from the profile, when she arrives for the whole cover shoot:

“Whatever I wear,” she says to the assembled group, in that trademark up-all-night drawl, earnestness dusted with levity, “I will be serving painful Italian glamour from within.”

I chortled, and then when I saw the photo, I had to tip my hat to her: She’s doing exactly that, without a stitch on at all.

The rest of the profile is… a little hard for me to relate to, honestly. I have never connected with the Method acting stuff, so it’s always hard for me to read about people going to great lengths to stay in character for an entire shoot, all in the name of their art. I mean, this is completely bananas to me:

I had some psychological difficulty at one point towards the end of filming. I was either in my hotel room, living and speaking as Reggiani, or I was on set, living and speaking as her. I remember I went out into Italy one day with a hat on to take a walk. I hadn’t taken a walk in about two months and I panicked. I thought I was on a movie set.”

I don’t mean to minimize how taxing the work might have been here, but… this is so extreme, to me. And the whole profile is full of a lot of Words On A Page about all the deep and meaningful things Gaga did to connect with her role. I am not an artist, so I cannot relate to it, and therefore it meant that the experience of reading the profile was mostly me trying to resist rolling my eyes and clicking away. There was one moment when I thought maybe the writer agreed with me — he writes of a Zoom interview with Gaga, “Never one to miss an opportunity to work her own myth, she pops up on my screen mid-song.” Hmm.

[Photo: Steven Maisel; see the full feature in the December issue of British Vogue available via digital download and on newsstands from Friday, Nov. 5]