With this special edition, TIME delves into the business of creating the iconography of fashion. The subject of imagemaking isn't new to TIME. Henry Luce was well aware of his part in shaping some of the most powerful images of his era. And certainly the influence of fashion has played an important part in TIME's history: from Elsa Schiaparelli to Christian Dior to Giorgio Armani, this magazine has celebrated many great designers on its cover.
Our cover celebrates Liya Kebede, the first black model to sign a multimillion-dollar contract with the cosmetics giant Estee Lauder. But imagemaking isn't limited to photography. It touches on everything from the design of a perfume bottle to the conception of a snappy television commercial. In architecture, the work of rising star David Adjaye conveys the raw multimedia aesthetic of his generation. In pop music, canny image-attuned stars like Gwen Stefani are marketing their clothes the better to promote their records.
The obsession with how we look is a $160 billion global industry that encompasses everything from makeup to diet pills. But ultimately fashion in all of its many expressions is never less than a reflection of our social identity. The images we respond to tell us as much about ourselves as they do about the people who made them--who we are today, who we might be tomorrow. --Kate Betts