Hot on the heels of Vogue’s inexplicable mess of a September cover with Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Linda Evangelista, Vanity Fair Italia dropped a tri-fold for its October issue that features three of those four Supers amid a larger horde of their cohorts, and SWEET CHICKEN-FRIED PANCREAS it is also a mess??? You can see the three parts a bit clearer on the publication’s Instagram account; this is the best I can do for our purposes, but trust, it’s enough:

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No cover has ever looked MORE like it was tossed together from cutouts of each individual woman. Naomi Campbell is up there trying to keep her head, and chin, above the fray as best she can, and probably came out the best of any of them. Christy Turlington and Claudia Schiffer look like they’re in a dominatrix competition with each other, with Claudia winning on the menace front and also possibly overall because at least both sides of her face look accurate. Somehow, whoever retouched this gave Christy an eye infection and made it slide down her face. Kristen McMenamy always kind of looks like someone turned her into a vampire before she ever got a good night’s sleep, so I guess points for accuracy. Cindy Crawford is about to throw wide her arms and belt out, “HE HAD IT COMIN’,” Stephanie Seymour seems bemused to be there, and for some reason they picked a shot where Carla Bruni is either begging for forgiveness, praying, or golf-clapping her approval of somebody’s tepid joke.

Mostly, I cannot FATHOM why they included Carla, or Stephanie, or even Kristen, out front while relegating IMAN OF ALL PEOPLE to the second cover:

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Naomi Campbell should not be the only black model on the main cover, and notably, there is also only one Black model per photo, as if that’s the most they could do. Maybe Beverly Johnson turned them down. And Beverly Peele, Waris Dirie, Alex Wek, maybe Veronica Webb, or Roshumba… And I know we all laugh at how cheesy she has turned out to be, but Tyra Banks was a big freaking deal in her day, and I would argue more influential than, say, Eva Herzigova. Seriously, though: YOU GOT IMAN. She should be on the main cover, period, end of story. The only explanation I can think of is contract wrangling that demanded certain configurations of people, but… IMAN. It’s not even the best photo of her, AND YET. IMAN.

Separately, I also am not sure where Linda Evangelista is, as it’s absurd to do this without her, but she was wise to skip this one. I’ve always thought Milla Jovovich was a bit Linda Lite, so maybe that’s how she landed here; I’ve never been a huge fan of hers as a model, but that is a terrible photo of Milla, who looks like she cannot breathe through her nose. The symmetry in Amber Valletta’s and Helena Christensen’s poses and expressions is eerie, and for some reason, they pasted it together to look like Shalom Harlow is digging her elbow into Iman’s ribs. Kirsten Owen, with whom I was not familiar but whose face does vaguely ring a bell, is bringing hilarious ragey energy to the front row there and I don’t understand it but it’s at least giving me a genuine laugh.

Also worth wondering: Did they shun Kate Moss? Or did she say no? Maybe they consider her from a different era of supermodel than they’re honoring — the freshman when Linda and Christy and Naomi were seniors –but she’s the same age as Carolyn Murphy and Shalom Harlow, and you don’t have to be a fan of hers to acknowledge she was iconic. You know her face anywhere.

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And here we have a page of older models, all relegated to the third fold — and a few of whom I wasn’t familiar with until today. Did you know Elisabetta Dessy, in the top middle, is also an Olympic swimmer from the 1976 Games? Penelope Tree, bottom right, is another one I didn’t know; she’s a swingin’ 60s model whose mother has a REALLY juicy Wikipedia page that includes affairs with John Huston and, for a LONG time, Adlai Stevenson. Meanwhile, Lauren Hutton looks like they shrank her photo a bit too much in relation to the other ones, Twiggy looks like she’s going to smack a ruler against your open palm for being late with your English homework, Paulina is giving flawless face despite an apparent terrible stomachache, and Pat Cleveland is up there just trying to bring ANY energy to this affair.

Each woman got a solo cover that I’ll likely talk about in Drinks With Broads tomorrow, and they’re mostly much better. But for today: Yikes. The cover line, by the way, is THE MYTH OF BEAUTY, and Google Translate tells me that the caption to these posts wonders why perfection is still the demand of women even though as a society we allege to know better, and notes that often these women were (and are) held accountable for that standard even though they weren’t the ones setting or enforcing it. The translation of the end, and I can’t vouch for its accuracy but it’s better than I could do since I do not speak Italian, is: “We must learn to remove judgment when we look at the beauty of others and the body of others. Thin or shapely, conforming or not, the body of others is none of our business. Because true beauty does not close in a cage but frees. Beauty frees. Everything else is a prison.” Copy that, but if you’re getting all these beauties on your cover, don’t make it a prison of inane composition, lackluster editing, and bizarre choices. Yeesh.

Tags: Vanity Fair