There’s more than one wonderful story in Esquire’s new read: The Inside Story of John F. Kennedy’s ‘George’ Magazine. Writer Kate Story answers her own question about whether or not Kennedy’s then-revolutionary magazine that mixed politics with pop clture gave America a glimpse of our Trumpian future.
The Los Angeles Times asked: "Is John Kennedy Jr.’s ‘George’ making American politics sexy? Or is the magazine just dumbing it down more?"
Supermodel Cindy Crawford graced the first cover of ‘George’, a crucial decision in making it clear that the magazine was’t the “John Kennedy magazine” but a publication that stood on its own. Kennedy invited fashion photographer Herb Ritts and his creative director Matt Berman over to his TriBeCa loft, where they joined Kennedy’s wife Carolyn Bessette.
Kennedy proposed putting Bill Clinton on the cover, but Ritts suggested Cindy Crawford. At the time Crawford was appearing regularly on TV in Pepsi ads and as the host of MTV’s ‘House of Style’.
Story writes that Bassette loved the Crawford idea, calling it “perfect”. Bessette listed the supermodel’s attributes: “She’s all-American, a self-made woman, sexy, strong, and smart.”
Bassette confirmed a truth about the ‘90s supermodels, a reality that ultimately led the titans of fashion to cut new models down to size, in AOC’s opinion. The new heroin chic, waif model exemplified by Kate Moss was the exact opposite of a fiery, confident member of the 90’s supermodel tribe. Size 0 models couldn’t call the shots like a vibrant, self-confident size 4-6 glamazon.
Herb Ritts seemed to channel the same vibe in his ‘George’ September 1995 cover idea. By August, 1996, Los Angeles Times writer Robin Givhan postulated that the fashion industry had “a nihilistic vision of (female) beauty that was reflective of drug addiction.”
Ritts suggested dressing Crawford as George Washington — a “cheeky play on politics and pop culture.”
“He called my hotel. He reached out directly. And who’s going to say no?” Crawford says. “I trusted Herb Ritts enough to know it would be okay. But it was kind of like, I’m going to do what? Dress like George Washington? With the wig and everything?”
President Cindy Crawford | Manly or Not?
For a moment, there was more to the story — a move that would have been sensational for ‘George’ and also for America’s always on its knees women’s movement, as exemplified by Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump two decades later.
Story writes: “It wasn’t just the wig. After studying old paintings on the set of the photo shoot, the team decided to stuff Crawford’s skintight breeches with a sock. Matt Berman was unsure whether Kennedy, who wasn’t on set, would be quite that adventurous, but he figured they could make changes in postproduction. Sure enough, when Kennedy saw proofs a few days later, his response to Berman was “Maestro, what the fuck?” They airbrushed out the bulge. “
Can you imagine the Republican outrage Crawford’s sock crotch would have caused to political elites who view women politicos as ballbusters. As we speak, women presidential candidates are experiencing the 2016 tune all over again. Today’s headlines:
Shining a Light on Bias AGainst Women in the 2020 Presidential Campaign News Northeastern
With so many women running for president, why is the focus still on the men? Christian Science Monitor
Related AOC 2016 Presidential Campaign