By  on January 7, 1994

NEW YORK -- Forget men, waifs and quirky covers. For women's fashion magazines in 1993, the old formula -- supermodels and a blockbuster September issue -- produced the bestsellers of the year.

In fact, issues with waifs and men as cover images often came in dead last on the newsstand.

Mirabella flunked with Jeremy Irons in October, and Harper's Bazaar fared poorly with waif model Amber Valleta in June.

Unusual or eclectic covers didn't perform well, either.

Vogue's worst-selling issue in 1993 was a montage of models in January, and Elle's biggest clunker was an upside-down photo of Elaine Irwin in May.

Celebrity covers, long resisted by some fashion camps, appear to be working. Vogue did well in December with Sharon Stone, and Harper's Bazaar scored with Daryl Hannah. And while Mirabella may have bombed with Jeremy Irons, its second best-selling issue of the year featured Hillary Clinton on the August cover.

But September once again proved to be the pivotal month.

While observers agree that last year's box office success in September was more a function of timing than the actual cover, a supermodel or two certainly didn't hurt. September's Vogue and Harper's Bazaar were helped along by covers featuring Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington, respectively.

Elle's September issue, its biggest of the year and the first under editor Amy Gross, highlighted four models, none of whom are household names. It sold 445,000 newsstand copies, versus 430,000 in September 1992.

"It's not who you put on the cover, but the size of the magazine," said David Leckey, vice president, circulation director, Hachette Magazines.

"[Each month] you may be delivering 200 to 250 pages, but with the fall fashion issue, the book size doubles. You have your typical Elle or Vogue buyer, but in September you bring in that individual who's interested in fashion. It brings in that incremental buyer that makes the issue so profitable for all of us in the field. Every year it's the one you bank on," he said.

Elle's worst-selling May issue, featuring an upside-down photograph, sold only 200,000 newsstand copies, versus 342,000 the prior May. It was fewer than Elle's first half average of 260,000 newsstand copies, said Leckey, which was down 20 percent from the previous year.

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