T - Cover Star: Lana Del Rey
Verdict: T was one of the first mainstream publications to jump on the Lana Del Rey bandwagon, so they get points for being early adopters and extra points for the pretty, if less-than-scintillating, Terry Richardson lensed cover, which features the trout pout copper-haired singer/songwriter in a prim ivory blouse buttoned to the neck.
The Issue: Highlights: Gaby Woods' sympathetic profile of spurned spouse Olatz Schnabel, Joan Juliet Buck's piece on beauty guru Bobbi Brown, Suzy Menkes' thoughtful rumination on celebrity designers (boo hiss!) and Holly Brubach's truth v. fiction meditation on her late friend, Tanaquil Le Clercq. On the fashion tip, winning offerings include Chelsea Zalopany's "Fair Traders" article (about bicoastal clothes swap soirees), actress Rosamund Pike "Styled to a T" in Dries Van Noten, a spring trend roundup by fashion editor Ethel Park and a photo-driven "Profile in Style" starring the immensely likable Revlon makeup artist Gucci Westman.
Low points: On the downside, we have EIC Sally Singer's own article on reporter Lara Logan's return home after a brutal, and much-publicized, sexual assault in Cairo (the interview may have been a "get" journalistically speaking, but Singer didn't really get any new insights from the enigmatic Logan, leaving this reader with more questions than answers after finishing the piece). The Lana Del Rey cover story is also bit of a letdown, as it trods well-worn territory without delving deeper into its subject's psyche. And while I'm a longtime fan of Ayelet Waldman's writing, her piece on PMS masquerading as bipolar disorder ("All the Rage") seems better suited to the Times' regular Sunday magazine than the spring style issue, which lends the whole enterprise a very women's service feel, a la Glamour or Self.
WSJ. - Cover Star: Charlotte Gainsbourg
Verdict: Looking quintessentially French—that is to say, effortlessly chic and messy-pretty—the actress/singer (daughter of European pop culture royals Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg) was shot by designer/photographer Hedi Slimane sporting sexy bed head and a simple silver watch.
The Issue: Highlights: The addictively readable "Tracked" column, which follows a notable person though their jam-packed day (this month's subject is designer Jason Wu, who apparently subsists on a liquid diet). Dana Thomas's behind-the-seams profile of high-level European fashion consultant Michele Montagne, who has helped shape the careers of Helmut Lang, Haider Ackermann and Rick Owens, is another must-read, as is "Betting the Farm," Whitney Vargas's piece on Stella McCartney's new vegetarian cookbook. The FOB "Places & Faces" section features some of spring's most covetable accessories, the Gainsbourg cover story feels surprisingly intimate (and you come away feeling you actually learned something new about her), Julia Reed gets up-close-and personal with 79-year-old Oscar de la Renta (whose motto, according to the piece, is: "you rest, you rust"), and Natasha Garnett takes us inside the world—and mind—of artist Tracey Emin.
Low points: Yet another magazine puff piece about the so-called capital-G genius of artist Cindy Sherman (zzzzz, oh, sorry, were you saying something?). Seriously, people, get a grip. Sherman dresses up in borderline grotesque costumes and takes silly, not-very-accomplished pictures of herself that do nothing to raise the viewer's consciousness or awareness about, well, anything (other than the narcissistic artist herself, that is). Enough with the fangirl hero worship. And while I usually love the work of WSJ. creative director Patrick Li, "Strange Girl in a Strange Land" manages to feel both forced and bland, showcasing model Jaime King in everyday suburban settings (and other than the bufugly sunglasses she wears, there's nothing strange about any of it).
Final Score: It's a tie.
Stay tuned for tomorrow's Style Smackdown featuring T vs. WSJ. Men's spring 2012. Additional entries in the T vs. WSJ. Style Smackdown include holiday 2011 and T vs. WSJ. online.