Kate Upton’s “Vogue” Cover Not Really A Big Deal, Statistically

She’s just the latest in a long line of cover models to have dipped their toes in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

1. Lots of people have gotten very (over)excited about Kate Upton’s new Vogue cover.

Excited like it’s heralding big, shiny new things in the fashion industry and that Upton’s the new Moss and that we can all eat carbs once a month now and stop balancing small vases in our sunken collarbones. Not so fast.

2. First off, Kate’s already covered both Italian and British Vogue.

Vogue Italia November 2012; British Vogue January 2013.

3. And, statistically, even in the context of U.S. Vogue alone her cover is not that big a deal.


Not a deal as big as her breasts, if you will. Because this wouldn’t be an article about Kate Upton without irrelevant references to her figure now, would it?

4. During Anna Wintour’s reign as Vogue’s editor-in-chief, 58* models have booked the magazine’s cover. And 21 of those models also posed for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, like Kate.


*that number doesn’t include models featured on the folded part of fold-out covers; many of Anna’s favorite models have landed Vogue’s cover also multiple times. (Also worth remembering, this doesn’t include the gamut of celebrities who’ve also fronted the magazine.)

5. Let’s have a pie chart.

Just over a third of Vogue’s cover models have swimsuit photos stashed away in their portfolios.

6. A majority of those models went “downhill,” though — thirteen of those with both photos in magazines to their name switched their couture for a two-piece.


This group posed for the Swimsuit Issue only after shooting their Vogue covers. (They include some of the Swimsuit Issue’s bigger names, though: Niki Taylor, Angela Lindvall and Talisa Soto, for example.)

7. Following her last Vogue cover in 2000, Bridget Hall booked the Swimsuit Issue five years in a row.

L-R: Bridget covering Vogue in April 1994 with Brandi Quinones and Niki Taylor. All three models went on to feature in future Swimsuit Issues — here’s Bridget in 2004; Niki in 2007.

8. Carolyn Murphy landed seven Vogue covers in the late ’90s. In 2004, she also booked the Swimsuit Issue cover.

L-R: Vogue August 1999; August 2000; Sports Illustrated.

9. May 2007’s Vogue cover pronounced Hilary Rhoda one of the “world’s next top models.” That title took her to three years’ worth of Swimsuit Issue features.

L-R: Rhoda on Vogue (second from left); in the 2009, 2010 Swimsuit Issues respectively.

10. Even Michaela Bercu, the first model to cover Wintour’s Vogue, later posed for the Swimsuit Issue.

L-R: Bercu’s November 1988 and 1989 Vogue covers; posing for Sports Illustrated in 1990; she’s on the far right in that fetching red number.

11. That leaves an elite group of eight models who traversed the slippery slope from features in Sports Illustrated up to fronting Vogue’s.


You know, what with it being a high fashion magazine and all.

12. Sports Illustrated snapped Stephanie Seymour in her swimmies in the ’80s; by the ’90s she was covering Vogue with the iconic “one name only” supermodels.

L-R: Seymour’s February 1995 Vogue cover; shot for the Swimsuit Issue in 1988.

13. Cindy Crawford also featured in the 1988 Swimsuit Issue — prior to any of her eleven Vogue covers.

L-R: Crawford’s January 1992 Vogue; August 1993 Vogue; 1988 SI photo.

14. And Naomi Campbell shot numerous Vogue covers following her 1992 Swimsuit Issue debut. Because she’s Naomi Campbell.

L-R: Campbell for April 1993 Vogue; for the 1997 Swimsuit Issue.

15. But there’s more still: three models booked the much-heralded cover of SI’s Swimsuit Issue before their Vogue covers.


That’s some upcycling.

16. Judit Mascó covered Vogue in 1991, the year after her Swimsuit Issue cover.

17. And current cover girl Kate Upton booked two consecutive SI covers before gracing Vogue.

18. The thing is, Paulina Porizkova beat her to it. She fronted the 1984 and ‘85 Swimsuit Issues before landing any of her Vogue covers.

L-R: Porizkova covering Vogue December 1989; Swimsuit Issues 1985, 1984 respectively.

19. Also, Anna booked her for a Vogue cover after she’d fronted an issue of Playboy.

That’s a 1987 cover of Playboy, with Porizkova promoting her “hot new calendar.” (She doesn’t get fully nude.) In total, she booked features in seven Swimsuit Issues, and landed Vogue’s cover six times — however only the last cover (pictured above) came under Wintour’s editorship.

20. So Kate’s still got some work to do if she plans to be the best/biggest swimsuit model in Vogue’s eyes, really.


(Not to mention the greater fashion industry.)

21. In the feature accompanying Kate’s new cover, her IMG agent Ivan Bart quotes the model’s “career goals.”


Said Upton, “If I’m going to make it as a model, I’ve got to be a celebrity. That’s what makes her a twenty-first-century model.” Perhaps, then, a fairer comparison would be to look at Vogue’s celebrity cover stars — and see if she’s the first “celebmodel” to have the Swimsuit Issue to her name.

22. Oh wait, Beyoncé already did that. Because she’s Beyoncé.

(Serena Wiliams is another of Vogue’s celebrity cover stars to have also featured in SI, though she wasn’t on the latter’s cover.)

23. Kate’s cover is nice. Really pretty. She looks great, and yes, there’s a “real” figure (read: again, those breasts everyone talks so much about) semi-visible. But it’s far from the groundbreaking moment folks want to make it.


Keep on truckin’ anyway, though, Kate.

24. Or, you know, just keep on doing dirty things to popsicles. Either works.

Swimsuit Issue images courtesy of SI.com; Vogue covers from Voguepedia and Paper Pursuits.

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