The Cover Story: Classic Magazine Covers, part 1


Magazine and newspaper covers have an uncanny ability to burn themselves into our minds. For all the brilliant things about digital journalism, in years to come you’re unlikely to ever remember how a website’s homepage looked on any particular day. A good print cover can stay with you for life.


A great magazine front page is a perfect collaboration between designers, journalists and photographers/illustrators. It’s about seeing a concept brought to life because all the parts of the editorial machine are working in harmony.


At Little Red Rooster, we still get a massive thrill from a magazine landing on our desks, and between us we’ve seen literally hundreds of thousands of them over our lifetimes – some even from before we were born.


We’ve taken a pickaxe to our memories to mine the very finest nuggets from print history. Here’s the first truckload of pure gold – look out for a further instalment soon, but in the meantime you can keep an eye on our choices on Instagram.



Paper, October 2015
Sam New, Senior Account Executive
“I chose this cover because I love how the monochrome contrast and grainy texture gives the cover a retro feel that ties in well with the theme of the issue, and the striking make-up is classic Grace Jones… only heightened by the dramatic lighting! The ‘Nowstalgia’ issue really stood out to me as Grace is one of the leading artists who is now considered ‘nostalgic’ by the younger generation, yet still exceptionally relevant and trend-leading in the fashion and beauty industries. Her influence will never die!”


WIRED, June 1997
Simon Osborne-Walker, Senior Account Manager
“I’m old enough to remember when Apple was rotten. The month was June 1997 and the story, it seems amazing now, was ‘101 ways to save Apple’. These pearls of wisdom included gems such as ‘scrap your hardware production.’ Hmm. In 1998 Apple produced the iMac, in 2001 the iPod, and the rest is history. But without that trip to the cliff edge, we wouldn’t have this legendary WIRED cover, which the magazine recreated in 2008 along with a gracious admission that its advice had been questionable. I mean, imagine if Apple really had sold itself to Motorola.”


New York, March 2014
Emma Younger, Account Manager
“Most people know Elisabeth Moss from The Handmaid’s Tale but before she was Offred, she was the severly underrated, underestimated Peggy in Mad Men. Elisabeth’s character in Mad Men, as she struggled to forge a place for herself in a world dominated by men, is just as relevant today as it was in the 60s. I love this cover and the others they released alongside it because it evoked the feeling of the issue, which featured a great piece on Hollywood’s power women and the free spirit and representation of women in the iconic TV series, Girls. But mostly, I just love Elisabeth Moss!”


Playboy, November 2009
Thomas Reed, Senior Account Executive
“When you think of the Simpsons you probably wouldn’t associated it with arguably the most famous lads mag in the world. However, in a bold satirical move to commemorate the shows 20th anniversary, quintessential house wife Marge Simpson donned the front cover of Hugh Heffner’s iconic magazine. Although fans of the show expressed surprise, even dismay, at the stunt, I for one think it’s genius, and further exemplifies how this ‘children’s’ cartoon has permeated far beyond the reach of our TV screens into popular culture, fashion and other sectors of the media.”


Esquire, December 1993
Lewis Hopkins, Senior Account Executive
“I hate to say it but I wasn’t even born when this cover hit newsstands in January 1994, yet this iconic @UKEsquirecover has remained etched in my mind. No one does it like Kate! 19 at the time and painted head-to-toe in metallic gold, this striking Bond-esque image is both sensual and political. Rosie Boycott, the mag’s editor at the time, said ‘There’s no way that anyone’s going to get anything over Kate Moss in that photograph. She’s a million dollars, gold and it’s totally sexy. And it’s also totally feminist to me. I wanted the image to say, women can enjoy sex just as much as men. We’re equal here. We’re in this together.”


National Geographic, June 1985
Devon Cairns, Junior Account Executive
“A picture is worth a thousand words. I first came across this cover after looking through my older brother’s book from National Geographic, called ‘The Photographs’. I can’t remember my age at the time but I was definitely in my teens and I just remember staring at this image for so long and asking myself lots of questions. Who is she? What’s her name? Where is she from? Is she the same age as me? An absolutely incredible portrait by photographer Steve McCurry.”


Rolling Stone, April 1999
Clodagh Pickavance, Senior Account Executive
“For anyone growing up in the 1990s, girl power ruled, Sabrina the Teenage Witch was the best thing since sliced bread, and Britney Spears was a global pop princess dominating the charts with iconic numbers ones such as, ‘Hit me baby one more time’ and ‘You drive me crazy’. When I was asked to think of a front cover, Britney’s controversial Rolling Stone shoot immediately sprung to mind. I remember the uproar regarding the ‘sexualised’ image of 17-year-old Britney, but was too young to really understand what all the fuss was about – to me she was just another role model showing us that girls can do it all! Fast forward 20 years and Britney’s ‘controversial’ front cover is a far cry from (and somewhat timid compared to) Kim Kardashian’s internet-breaking Paper front cover.”


Esquire, May 1969
Sasha Regazzoni, Junior Account Executive
“This rather iconic Esquire cover dates back to 1969, a decisive year for radical change in modern culture. It stands as one of my favourite images by George Lois, king of controversial covers, as it truly epitomises the fragmented artistic atmosphere of the time. Being a devoted fan of avant-garde art, this representation of Andy Warhol being swallowed by his idolised Campbell’s tomato soup personifies a Dadaist approach to the ‘decline and total collapse of the American avant-garde’. Lois channels Duchamp, a hero of mine, by presenting audiences with a totally absurd construction of images to convey a quite preoccupying message. I am just fascinated by absurdism as a whole!”

Want to know more about us at LRR? Go and meet the team

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