Steven Meisel Fakes It for W

Fashion magazines are filled with ads, sometimes upstaging the articles. They range from the cheesy to the sleazy, cliché to outré. Eagle-eyed readers of W will spot a few over-the-top examples in the magazine’s new art issue, on stands now. Another socialite scent? Check. A group of not-quite-golden gals peddling cucumber-green face cream? Yup. Overdone toddler posing in expensive clothing? You got it.

The fake ads are a tongue-in-cheek collaboration between veteran photographer Steven Meisel and the magazine’s new fashion director, Edward Enninful, who’s quickly injecting the glossy with some cheeky English humor. And speaking of cheeky, one of the more clutch-pearls images is a faux underwear ad featuring Karen Elson with a bevy of naked male models, each with little more than red spank marks on his bum.

The other photographs riff on familiar fashion magazine tropes, from the fragrance ad to the designer surrounded by his creations. They star a wide range of famous faces, such as a fur-clad Joan Rivers alongside fellow QVC pitchman Dennis Basso, a showering Linda Evangelista, and nude RuPaul protégé Carmen Carrera as the face (and rear) of the imaginary scent La Femme. But reality stars and bare flesh aside, the most shocking thing about these ads might just be how close they are to the real thing—art imitating ads imitating life.

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