September is the highest-stakes month of the year for fashion titles, in terms of who scores those coveted covers (though raking in enough ad pages to produce a book that's equivalent to the weight of a small child seems to be the main objective). W went with model Gigi Hadid for this year’s September issue, which hits newsstands on August 18, deeming her a “Post It Girl.” That term has nothing to do with those sticky paper products and a whole lot to do with being very hooked up IRL and on social media — Hadid does have more than 4 million Instagram followers, after all. “Unlike anonymous models of the recent past, Hadid, 20, is a personality and not just a photogenic mannequin,” W’s editor at large, Lynn Hirschberg, writes in the cover story. “With their potent combination of family lineage, social-media influence, and sex appeal, Hadid and her fellow new-generation models — Cara Delevingne and Kendall Jenner — should be called the Post It Girls: They are instant celebrities who built their fame online.”
Hadid is heralded on the cover as “The World’s Most Connected Supermodel.” Inside the issue, the many ways in which Hadid is “spectacularly connected” are illustrated with an infographic that links Hadid with 57 boldfaced names, including Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Cher, and Whitney Houston (all of whom have worked with Hadid’s stepfather, record producer David Foster), basically every Kardashian and Jenner, and even two former presidents and one potential POTUS — Bill and Hillary Clinton (Streisand endorsees), and George W. Bush (endorsed by Nelson Peltz, the billionaire father of Hadid’s childhood bestie, actress Nicola Peltz). “Gigi's social media following is her currency, and it's pure gold — literally, so we’ve produced a limited-edition gold leaf cover,” says W’s editor-in-chief, Stefano Tonchi, referring to a luxe version for those who want to really hold on to Hadid’s biggest cover coup to date; it'll be on newsstands in NYC and L.A., and will be sent to subscribers. (You also can obtain a copy as a new subscriber, starting today, if you’re really fiending for that gilded treatment.) “We aim to surprise and transform: [W's fashion and style director] Edward Enninful worked with Gigi to channel a new look that’s grown-up and glamorous, collaborating with supermodel image-maker and legendary photographer Steven Meisel."
W's choice of Hadid is interesting, given how paramount September issues are for fashion mags — and what scoring a cover signifies. The redux of models on covers is well under way; last year, Vogue bet big by putting Karlie Kloss, Joan Smalls, and Cara Delevingne on its September cover, W went with a group of models (mostly supermodels, like Kate Moss and Daria Werbowy) on its November cover, and Carine Roitfeld, who put Hadid on the map, has gone the model route for many of her CR Fashion Book covers (including one with Hadid). Putting Hadid solo on a cover — on a September issue, no less — is a pretty big deal. Hadid has already “moved seamlessly between mass and class” in her career, as Hirschberg puts it, inking deals with Maybelline and, most recently, Topshop, while also getting campaigns with the likes of Tom Ford and MaxMara. But last year, W went with Rihanna for its September cover. Though another “Post It Girl,” Delevingne, had cover duties in September 2013, Penélope Cruz was chosen in 2012, Kristen Stewart graced 2011’s cover, Jennifer Lawrence (along with Zoë Kravitz and Yaya DaCosta) was on the mag’s 2010 cover, Kate Moss was on 2009’s September edition, and Kate Hudson was the September cover gal in 2008. Those are mostly bona fide Hollywood heavyweights, plus a model trying to become a Tinseltown hit (Delevingne), as well as a runway legend (Moss).
Hirschberg is frank about how this September cover choice had an upper hand at breaking into the industry thanks to her connections (“but Hadid’s pedigree…definitely smoothed her path”) and her affluence. “She was raised in a wealthy Santa Barbara enclave, but her manner is always intentionally polite, to counter the assumption that, as [Hadid] put it, ‘I’m a stuck-up bitch because of how I grew up,’” Hirschberg writes. We can appreciate Hadid’s self-awareness about how her privileged upbringing has helped her out, and if you weren’t a Hadid fan before this story, you might be afterward; the model comes off as hardworking and grounded. However, while her success trajectory is impressive, it is conventional; it's less Post It Girl and more It Girl, Full Stop.