V133: V's Superstar Debuts
Text: Owen Myers
To celebrate pop pioneer Madonna’s return to V Magazine, covering our winter 2021 issue—we tip our hats to the modern musical icons that V championed from the get-go!
Discover some of the wildest and viral moments from V's history below!
Lady Gaga, V61
It was Fall 2009, “Poker Face” was at the top of the charts. For V61, a 23-year-old Gaga was captured by Mario Testino sporting big hair, and little else. Her eye-popping debut was nothing short of on-brand for the emerging Queen of Pop who spoke about her upcoming tour, wearing her heart a little less on her sleeve, and more.
Nicki Minaj, V69
In Spring 2011, Nicki Minaj was being touted as the hottest female rapper for her record-breaking debut album, Pink Friday. Her feature in the V69 issue marked her first-ever fashion magazine cover, with many to follow. Shot by Inez and Vinoodh, Minaj rocks her signature bangs and Barbie-pink vibrant lipstick, the trademark of her breakout era that solidified her as a rap superstar.
Rihanna & Kate Moss, V82
Shot by the legendary Mario Testino, Rihanna and Kate Moss bare all in V’s Spring 2013 issue. As a highly successful musician and model respectively, the pair come to embody the V82 theme: “Dynamic Duos.” Melanie Ward, who styled the shoot, shared all that played on set was Rihanna’s song, “Diamonds,” which had just launched.
Miley Cyrus, V83
Miley Cyrus shed her family-friendly image with a new look and new album to boot on our Summer 2013 issue. Cyrus’ cover by Mario Testino and styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele represented the transformation into her new Bangerz era filled with edgier themes of sex, partying, and love. Cyrus rocks a neon-orange pixie cut to match a customized Louis Vuitton duffel.
Madonna & Katy Perry, V89
Music heavyweights Katy Perry and Madonna joined forces to showcase the unyielding power of pop in V’s Summer 2014 issue. Photographed by Steven Klein and styled by Arianne Phillips, Klein captures the dynamic duo’s energy in three different covers. In a conversation between the artists, they discussed getting ready to tour, OCD tendencies, and their fathers’ opinions on their showmanship.
Sam Smith, V93
Fresh off a four-time Grammy win high, Sam Smith had nothing to hide as a cover star of Spring 2015. The singer stayed true to themself in the portrait, shot by Inez and Vinoodh and styled by Mel Ottenberg, baring their soul in a sit-down chat with Queen of Funk, Chaka Khan. The then-budding star proved to be a music industry mainstay for their vocal prowess and fresh take on soul music.
Selena Gomez, V94
The singer and actress made her first appearance on our cover in Spring 2015 with a new, grown-up image. The doe-eyed beauty smolders into the camera in a barely-there ensemble of denim hot pants and long hair to protect her modesty, captured by Inez and Vinoodh and styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele. Gomez’s V debut signalled the start of a bolder new era of music for the former Disney star.
Dua Lipa, V113
Everyone’s favorite pop artist, Dua Lipa graced the cover back in 2018–just when her self-titled Dua Lipa album was breaking records. Shot by Inez and Vinoodh and styled by George Cortina, Lipa is reimagined as a punk princess for the V113 cover. She sits down with Katy Perry to discuss her rise to fame, touring, and new music.
Bad bitch energy defines Lizzo’s Summer 2019 cover shoot. The genre-bending musical sensation serves major looks and sets pulses racing on her debut cover of V, shot by Chris Colls and styled by Nicola Formichetti. The singer-rapper-songwriter stares down the camera with confidence for days. Whether she was already on your radar or not, one thing’s for certain: she looks good as hell.
Billie Eilish, V121
The then 17-year-old pop sensation made her V debut for the 20th-anniversary issue in 2019, photographed by Inez and Vinoodh and styled by Alex White. Back then, she already had over 30 million followers, a Grammy Award-winning album, and the adoration of multiple generations. In an interview with Pharell Williams, Eilish opened up about fame, clairvoyance, and sleep paralysis.
Doja Cat, V129
To capture the spirit of Doja Cat for V’s Spring/Summer 2021 cover, V enlisted the help of Steven Klein and Melbourne-based 3D artist Jason Ebeyer. With styling by Patti Wilson, the hip-pop phenomenon is reimagined as a seductive digital nymph. Doja sits down with her “Kiss Me More” collaborator, SZA, to chat about breaking barriers and embracing divine femininity.