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How Vogue kept its cover shoot of 40 famous stars secret

An image of 40 famous females will mark Edward Enninful’s final issue. But how did they pull it off?

Image source, Ned Rogers

If you saw the latest cover of fashion bible British Vogue going viral last week, you probably had the same question as many others.

“How on Earth did they manage to get 40 of the most famous, in-demand women on the planet in the same place at the same time?”

Rosie Vogel-Eades has the answer.

She’s the magazine’s global bookings director and the person who co-ordinated the massive photoshoot.

Her boss, British Vogue editor-in-chief Edward Enninful, wanted to mark his final issue after seven years with something special, and his pitch was a cover featuring some of the world’s most notable women.

Household names from the worlds of fashion, film, music and sport, together in one location. Easy, right?

Rosie had her doubts.

“I figured it was never going to happen and I told him he was mad,” she tells BBC Newsbeat, laughing.

“Then suddenly he was like ‘I want Miley Cyrus, I want Oprah…’

“And I said, ‘sure, let me see what I can do’.”

Image source, Reuters

So Rosie started putting in calls to agents and managers but experience told her it wouldn’t be easy.

“Getting people to share a cover or getting models to share a cover can be difficult, let alone people of different disciplines, having models share with musicians, with actors,” she says.

“Things get very complicated in that way.”

But she needn’t have worried.

“Once they started saying ‘yes’, I was like, ‘oh my God, I’m gonna have to get a knife and a fork and eat my words’, which I was very happy to do,” she says.

“It’s testament to what people will do for Edward.

“I think there’s so much goodwill to him from all of these people who he had put on his covers before to come together to kind of say goodbye.”

Image source, Steven Meisel

Rosie admits that the original plan didn’t involve 40 cover stars, but the situation escalated once US TV host Oprah Winfrey was on board.

“As things often have a tendency to do with Edward, they kind of snowball and things get bigger and more fantastical,” she says.

“But I’ve never worked on something of that size where people were so willing to give their time and so quickly.”

Rosie says almost everyone they approached to appear on the cover agreed, with only Nicole Kidman unable to make it due to filming arrangements.

The next step was to set a date, and plan a strict schedule – Rosie calls it a “military operation” – at an undisclosed location in New York chosen for December’s shoot.

“It was all super-secretive,” she says.

“There were very few of us in the office who actually knew who was going to be there. And we kept it really tight, which was almost, maybe, more exciting.

“It was almost like running a fashion show,” she says. “When you have that much talent in one place and everyone has to be ready for a certain time.

“So we had a whole floor just of hair and make-up, we had a whole floor of styling, a whole floor with people’s management and things like that.

“And it was all sort of very, very structured.”

Rosie says that all the stars in the shoot had to be on set by 15:00, meaning a long day of prep beforehand.

“So some people were there [at] eight in the morning, some people arrived at 14:59 already with their hair and makeup done,” she says.

Image source, Getty Images

“Once I ticked everyone off, and everyone was in hair and makeup, I went outside to go and get coffee, sort of decompress and basically call my husband in floods of tears.

“Because I don’t know if I’m ever going to do anything that would be as good as this and perhaps I’ve sort of peaked.

“And he was like: ‘Well, why don’t you go back inside and enjoy it rather than crying on the phone to me?’, and I did.

“And it really was amazing.”

After several weeks of prepping Edward’s final issue, which goes on sale from Tuesday, Rosie says “it’s nice be able to share it with the world” after all the secrecy.

And she thinks it’s a fitting send-off for her former boss who, in her view, has had an “immeasurable” influence on the fashion industry.

“I think he’s really changed the landscape for so many people,” she says.

“Given voices to people who weren’t necessarily heard or seen or involved before.

“But something that he always says is that there’s still so much work to do.

“And I really hope that we can continue doing that kind of work even while he’s not the editor-in-chief.

“I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to work with him and work on that cover and on all of his covers, you know, because it’s all been a wild ride.”

The full list of 40 stars:

Adwoa AboahAdut AkechSimone AshleyVictoria BeckhamSelma BlairNaomi CampbellVittoria CerettiGemma ChanJodie ComerLaverne CoxCindy CrawfordMiley CyrusAriana DeboseCara DelevingneJourdan DunnPaloma ElsesserKaren ElsonCynthia ErivoLinda EvangelistaJane FondaKaia GerberGigi HadidSalma HayekImanMaya JamaJameela JamilKarlie KlossPrecious LeeDua LipaGugu Mbatha-RawKate MossLila MossRina SawayamaIrina ShaykAnya Taylor-JoyChristy TurlingtonAmber VallettaSerena WilliamsOprahAnok Yai

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays – or listen back here.

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