Celebrities in Magazines and Ads

Celebrities once dominated magazine covers and fashions ads. Now Angelina and Uma have been replaced by athletes, models, and dead people. Jacob Bernstein on why the stars burned out.


Glamour magazine has long been a place where movie stars turn when their movies are coming out. But recently, the magazine has begun to experiment with models again. At left, a June 2009 cover featuring Renée Zellweger. On the right, a June 2010 cover featuring models.


The Blackglama ads from the 1970s featuring Raquel Welch helped usher in the era of celebrity-endorsed luxury campaigns. It’s a trend that picked up steam in the ’80s and ’90s, as Madonna struck a pose for Versace and Demi Moore and Bruce Willis cavorted in the latest clothes from Donna Karan. Season after season, celebrities shot campaigns like this, until fairly recently, when designers began to make a move back to models.

St. John

Angelina Jolie was one of the many big-name celebrities to capitalize on the trend of stars appearing in ad campaigns. From 2005 to 2009, she appeared in ads for St. John, until the company decided to return to using models. In January, St. John’s CEO told WWD that Jolie had “overshadowed the brand.”


Another celebrity to garner a deal as a luxury goods spokesmodel was Gwyneth Paltrow. On the left is a 2007 campaign she shot for Tod’s. To the right is the company’s current ad campaign, which features models, in line with the current move away from big stars.

Louis Vuitton

The statuesque Uma Thurman spent much of the decade in high fashion demand. She’s shot campaigns for Donna Karan and Lancôme, whom she later sued, accusing the company of using images of her after her contract had expired. Here, at left, is Thurman in a Louis Vuitton ad. To the right is a current Vuitton campaign, featuring a model.


On the top is Jennifer Connelly in one of several ad campaigns she did for Balenciaga. The brand’s creative director, Nicolas Ghesquière, opted recently to return to models. At the bottom is the company’s latest ad campaign.

Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair has garnered many of its biggest sales from movie stars like Bruce Willis, but in the last year there’s been something of a shift. The magazine has run covers of deceased members of the Kennedy family, Tiger Woods during his much-publicized meltdown, and, most recently, two players in the World Cup.


Esquire also appears to be experimenting with different kinds of covers. At left, a typical celebrity portrait, of Johnny Depp. At right, a recent cover accompanying an article about the end of the end of the Kennedy dynasty.

Dolce & Gabbana

As WWD noted recently, Dolce & Gabbana is practically the only high-end fashion brand still using a big-name celebrity in their campaigns. Here, a fall 2009 campaign shot of Madonna shot by the photographer Steven Klein. But there does remain one area of the business where big celebs dominate: beauty contracts with companies like Revlon and accessories ads, like an Omega campaign with Nicole Kidman.