COLLECT ‘EM ALL: It’s going to take more than one coffee table to carry July’s Vanity Fair, since there will be 20 editions of the Condé Nast monthly for consumers to collect. The Bono guest-edited Africa issue will hit newsstands today. And if overfilling pockets at newsstands isn’t enough to attract readers’ attention, perhaps a giant display on Madison Avenue will be. Barneys New York will display all 20 of the covers in its windows through June 19.
Annie Leibovitz shot all the covers to capture what looks like a game of telephone among international icons discussing the crisis in Africa. The list of subjects read like a who’s who of Africa awareness: Warren Buffett, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Desmond Tutu, Oprah Winfrey, Djimon Hounsou, Chris Rock, Muhammad Ali, Jay-Z, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Iman, to name a few. Each photo shows two subjects conversing with each other — Don Cheadle talking with Barack Obama, Madonna speaking with Maya Angelou, Queen Rania of Jordan speaking to Bono. “These are incredible people of our time who all have a passion for and a connection to Africa,” said Leibovitz. “It was important to me to really show the humanity in their faces.”
While most people would jump at the chance to be photographed by Leibovitz, celebrities, world leaders and policy makers are busy people. So the photographer flew to locations from Japan to Omaha to South Korea over the course of six weeks to produce the covers (none of which were shot in Africa, though a majority of stories inside the magazine were photographed there). Only the subjects of two covers — President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Alicia Keys and Iman — were photographed together.
The inclusion of Bush and Rice may surprise the magazine’s readers. Editor in chief Graydon Carter for years has been blistering in his disdain for the Bush administration, slamming its policies in almost every editor’s letter. Carter explains Bush’s appearance on the July cover in his editor’s letter: “Bono’s choice, not mine, as you might imagine; he gives the commander in chief high marks on his Africa policies.”
Meanwhile, Bono wrote his own editor’s letter, saying he was “in awe” of Leibovitz, and called Carter “a true rock star (checklist: mad hair, natty dresser and de rigueur unrepentant smoking, etc. I looked like his manager.).”
Though the buzz-worthy bells and whistles surrounding the issue — and the month’s ad pages, double last year’s (the better to pay Leibovitz’s no doubt staggering bills) — will surely fatten Vanity Fair’s bottom line, the magazine will also support charitable causes benefitting Africa with two initiatives: It will donate $5 of every subscription purchased online in the month of June to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. And Vanity Fair and (Product) Red will donate to the fund 100 percent of the sales from a special CD curated by African musician Youssou N’Dour on sale at iTunes for $8.99. — Stephanie D. Smith
ALMOST HOME: Felix Dennis is close to unloading Maxim, Stuff and Blender to private equity firm Quadrangle Group, according to sources familiar with the situation, although last-minute negotiations appear to be holding up an announcement of a deal. And as any banker worth his bonus will know, any deal can fall apart over small details. Quadrangle, which is working with ex-Wenner vet Kent Brownridge, is said to have bid more than $235 million for the magazines, though a figure has not been confirmed. — S.D.S.
MILLER TIME: For the first time in its history, Tod’s has tapped a celebrity to appear in one of its ad campaigns — and not just any celebrity, but actress and tabloid regular Sienna Miller, who flew into New York last month for a weekend photo shoot at Megu in TriBeCa, straight from the set of “The Edge of Love,” co-starring Keira Knightley. Mikael Jansson shot Miller with the fall 2008 collection, overseen by Derek Lam, Tod’s creative director (and recent CFDA accessories designer of the year). This season will mark Lam’s first time designing the brand’s accessories as well as its ready-to-wear. Miller spent her downtime during the shoot chatting with Lam and Diego Della Valle, president of Tod’s. The ads will be seen worldwide in fashion and lifestyle magazines beginning in August. — Amy Wicks