It sounds like the ultimate cover; Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Kate Hudson shot together by Annie Leibovitz for November’s US Vogue. Instead, it’s an ungodly mess of bad Photoshop, strange composition and bizarre styling.
Ensemble shots are usually my favourite covers, with Vanity Fair having perfected the practice with their annual Young Hollywood covers and other striking shots such as the infamous Desperate Housewives swimsuit cover. Here, however, Vogue has created an inferior opposition which serves as a warning that four huge stars certainly do not make a cover.
Take the photoshopping, for example. Kidman and Nicole may be embracing loosely, but the placement of Cruz and Hudson is stunted and unnatural, making it quite clear that Leibovitz shot them separately. Achieving effective photoshop is, admittedly, tough, but with the money Conde Nast are saving after dissolving four of their magazines last week, you’d think they could afford a decent job. Styling wise, meanwhile, my biggest issue is with Kidman. Her obsession with botox has left her with a permanently airbrushed face that makes her the most technically flawless of the four, but it has also left her as cold as a codfish. Granted, Vogue can hardly reverse the damage she has caused to her once striking face, but they didn’t make it any better with the sculpted hairstyle that simply doesn’t fit with the tousled, natural look of the other three’s tresses. The gown, meanwhile, is heinous, but even ignoring that little opinion it is completely out of place beside the shorter dresses on offer, and while her lips are indeed reminiscent of something that belongs in the sea, it is verging on the ridiculous to paddle in the sea when wearing any floor length garment.
It could have gone so well. Kidman aside, Cruz, Cotillard and Hudson look stunning (although why you’d widen Hudson, impossibly svelte but undoubtedly bigger than either Marion or Penelope), and the sumptuous reds ease the issue nicely into autumn despite the tacky beach backdrop. But despite any small chance at redemption, it’s one big, red mess. If ‘Nine’, the film the four are publicising, is anywhere near as horribly overdone as the cover, you may want to avoid the cinema this winter.