I was walking down Hudson Street, past the magazine store that’s between 12th and Jane, and was literally stopped in my tracks by espying, out of the corner of my little eye, the magazine cover depicted above in the window of the store. Though a fruitcake of longstanding, I am not particularly susceptible to many of the commonplace obsessions of my tribe — including fashion and supermodels — with one notable exception. Even an atheistic rat bows before an icon as formidable as Linda Evangelista. The defining quality of an idol is pure inviolable existence by regard and Evangelista, her face perfect and perfectly plastic, commands our attention — it is impossible to be near her image and not notice it.
And this cover image is a minor miracle. For its annual art issue, W Magazine asked art world wiseguy, Maurizio Cattelan to use Evangelista as his canvas for a photo spread. Many of the images he made — including one of her as the Madonna — are visually fun and more or less interesting (if a bit obvious). But the cover shot is a tour de force. In one shot, taken outside NYU in Washington Square, Cattelan distills the world of the day into one hilarious snarky frame. A soldier, perhaps home from Iraq, walks past a black Obama stand-in and, in the middle of it all, a distraught socialite stares vacantly into the distance and silently holds her plaint/protest. By putting such a blatantly sarcastic and ironic tableau on its cover, Cattelan reminds us — in the midst of a collapsed economy — of the essentially elitist, detached and mocking nature of fashion. In the picture, Evangelista wears $1.5 million in real diamonds… and they’re merely decoration. Brilliant. Bravo to Cattelan and the ballsy W editors.