Vs. magazine’s Spring Summer 2011 issue offers four different covers, another example of what is becoming something of a standard now expected by the demanding reader. Vs. takes the approach of garnishing the effort with celebrity; those already known and those on the rise. Although the other three covers featuring Sky Ferreira, Paris Hilton and Nanna Oh Land are all entirely strong and impressive, Matt Irwin’s Kylie Minogue cover reaches a unique height of stunning impact.
His stark image turns Kylie into a Warholian portrait in black lines washed in a graduated rose spectrum from fleshy pink to near red. It’s exactly the cover to remind us why fashion publishing places so much importance in covers in the first place, amply demonstrating their powerful potential. Matt Irwin, as much known as a the editor of his own niche magazine Less Common, as a rising star in fashion photography more than proves his ability to take command of being at the centre of attention with this cover. But then again, he was lucky enough to be working with the perfect subject.
After all, everyone loves Kylie Minogue, even those who would rather wrestle with a pit full of rabid mongooses than be subjected to the majority of her seemingly endless output of bubblegum pop. Unlike some who have made their fame and fortune from mainstream hits that we just can’t get out of our heads, she is not a divisive force. Certain women who have built their careers –or are still trying- through a similar recipe for top twenty musical success inspire widespread derision from those who don’t like their music. But not so with Kylie. And similarly, others who have reached ‘a certain age’ and continue to seek a place in the limelight attract cynical comment questioning the wisdom of a grown woman still seeking to style herself as a sex kitten. Again, not so with Kylie. Why?
Well, for a start, as the cover of Vs. and the story inside proves, beauty is a wonderfully disarming resource and Kylie Minogue has plenty of it. Unlike some fellow travellers who are required to go for ‘character’ or carve out gimmicky niches for themselves in their personas as popsters, the lucky Ms. Minogue genuinely has the bone structure and physical beauty to not need to bother. And, even luckier for her, it’s actually got a lot better with age. The affable Australian suburban teenage looks that first followed the teenage soap star into her first pop videos have long since disappeared and given way to an elegant and international classical beauty that means that you can take Kylie anywhere.
But there’s a lot more to Kylie’s all-round appeal than simply her looks. Her millions of fans might even turn abrasive at the suggestion that there are those who simply don’t share their love of her music. But even the critics of her music seem to have a soft spot for Ms Minogue. Perhaps the reason for this is that Kylie remains something of an old school star, a professional entertainer who has rarely resorted to dragging her personal life into the arsenal of weapons used to fuel her vehicle for stardom. Unlike some who offer up their alleged art patronage as a reason for the thinking audience to find them interesting, Kylie Minogue, who those in the know can testify is a bit of a culture vulture, has the elegance to keep such personal interests personal. Ditto for not using unfortunate relationship problems as an attention-getting device played out in public like some cheap television show. Yep, there’s something about Kylie, mature sex kitten that she professionally is, nonetheless being a real lady.
Within the covers of Vs., the cover’s corresponding article and interview by Lucy Madison is accompanied by more photos by Matt Irwin, styled by Alicia Lombardini. Here the style is less stark than on the cover, tending more towards the low key, almost casual style with which he has become associated. But, even here, the more playful Kylie nonetheless retains the composure that a true lady never loses, no matter what the situation.