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Models walk, money talks

By Gan Tian | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-30 07:33

 Models walk, money talks

Magazines telling us how to look and feel good are a big part of modern life. Pictured is a giant poster of Vogue magazine in a Shanghai shopping mall. Jun Ying / for China Daily

 Models walk, money talks

Spanish actress Penelope Cruz stars in the 2013 Campari calendar. The major brands dictate what people wear in markets around the world. Provided to China Daily

The models who grace the covers of the country's top glamour magazines, according to Gan Tian, don't get there by just looking good.

Cover girls aren't just chosen because they are fabulously beautiful. The fact is money talks.

The country's top fashion magazines - including China's Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle, or Harper's Bazaar - have cover girls like Fan Bingbing, Li Bingbing, Zhao Wei and Shu Qi.

Interview requests about the standards editors-in-chief adopt to choose these cover girls are usually turned down, but one veteran editor with Cosmopolitan, who declined to reveal his name, says this process is closely related to the finance departments of these fashion magazines.

Luxury brands, most of which advertise in fashion magazines, will pay for their endorsements to be featured on the cover. And then there are the tie-ups with actresses when a blockbuster is about to premiere.

Li Bingbing was a big success in 2012. She was chosen to endorse Gucci and showed off her acting chops in the Hollywood movie Resident Evil: Retribution.

Models walk, money talks

Covering the stars 

Models walk, money talks

Zhang Ziyi poses for Vogue 

Models walk, money talks

Qin Lan poses for Vogue magazine 

This enabled her to appear on the covers of Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan.

She is the fifth celebrity to feature in all five of these magazines, while the others are: Maggie Cheung, Shu Qi, Zhang Ziyi and Zhou Xun.

Li Yuchun, the Super Girl winner, was featured on Cosmopolitan's February cover in 2012, but according to the Cosmopolitan editor she was far from qualified, as cover girls generally have to be A-list movie stars or supermodels.

"Li Yuchun gained her reputation from a contest, so readers will not connect her with the image of luxury, or being high-end," the editor says.

Li was chosen because she had just become the face of L'Oreal, a big client of Cosmopolitan.

Sometimes major magazines will feature individuals because they are closely connected to social issues.

In February, Cosmopolitan featured actress-singer Denise Ho. She had just come out as a lesbian, which was a big topic in Hong Kong. Unsurprisingly, the issue sold well.

Familiar faces often appear in late autumn/early winter because most luxury brands begin their fiscal years in September and have money to burn.

However, some of the spending goes on under the table. An editor with Trends Media Group, who would not give her name, says the editor-in-chief took a commission of 200,000 yuan ($32,540) to feature a starlet on its cover recently.

The Trends Media Group editor says such acts are part of the "hidden rules" of the industry. If a magazine does not secure a lot of its income from advertisers it is quite usual for the editor-in-chief to decide on the cover girl, and the starlet, or her backers, will pay for this opportunity.

This brings glamour and exposure and profits. Luxury brands are always in need of new faces to promote their products. When they choose their endorsements, they will consider those who have appeared on magazine covers, according to Time Out Beijing's fashion editor Shi Zhi-qiang.

Denise Wu, part of the marketing team at L'Oreal agrees: "When luxury labels, for example, L'Oreal, choose new celebrities to be their endorsements, or to attend their commercial activities, usually they will take into consideration how many times a star is featured on the cover of magazines."

Other times, the cover girl is selected for other reasons. For instance, the Professional Publishers Association celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2001 by asking readers around the world to vote for "Cover of the Century" out of 10 covers. Vogue magazine, featuring Kate Moss, was one of the winners.

"For the special issue in 2001 this humorous image, combining fashion and the symbols of power, struck us as a visually appealing way to celebrate the following year's golden jubilee," says PPA's official website.

But you can be sure that if readers are not choosing their cover girls and boys, then the selection is made for a raft of reasons.

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