Arjun Basu, editorial director, Spafax, publishers of EnRoute:
First of all, Nicole Richie might be a "face" but she's not good looking. Maybe that's just me. Second, she looks like she's surrendering. To what, I don't know. Maybe the photographer was being pushy. But she looks like she's ready to give up. To someone. Is there a bull charging that red dress? Having said that, the red dress really does stand out. It leaps off the cover. The word "trend" does as well and in any spring issue for this kind of magazine, that's a huge word. The comparison to the Flare cover is interesting because the composition of both is so similar ­ as is the case with most fashion magazines ­ but Fashion is using some amount of restraint. Fashion's cover is less wordy. And while Jennifer Garner is certainly a much bigger celebrity (at least with many demographics), she's not popping off the page. Fashion wins on the newsstand, I'm guessing.

Stacey May Fowles, director of circulation and marketing at The Walrus Magazine, volunteer publisher of Shameless, Masthead blogger:
I have to admit I'm a sucker for the tried and true pop of dominant red on a white background, and this Fashion cover is certainly the visual standout of the two.  While Nicole Richie is not the bigger draw star of the two, they’ve done a great job of making her seem so regardless. They’ve managed to make the rather waify (and arguably insignificant) celebutante look dominant, strong and sexy, as opposed to Jennifer Garner’s demure and submissive stance. A better sell for fashionistas, for sure. I also like the black wordmark and the red dot tie in with the contest⎯a really nice eye-catching visual effect. The only criticism is that a majority of the lines seem a bit vague and sparse⎯I’m not feeling a real hook to any particular story. This might be a newsstand winner on looks alone. Richie’s presence is powerful and iconic enough that readers will take note.

Rona Maynard, author, speaker and former editor of Chatelaine:
This cover caught my eye right away with the bright red swoosh of Nicole Richie’s dress, compellingly anchored by the promise of a spring trends package, and the graphic energy created by her upraised arms. So why did I glaze over within seconds? Nicole Richie looks bored, as if she thinks she has better things to do than a Canadian cover shoot. As for the coverlines, every reader wants to win a wardrobe but precious few believe hollow promises like “500+ new ideas.” There’s no bigger cover cliché than a meaningless number. “Cosmetic surgery and laser guide” is a potential newsstand winner but deserves more prominence. After all the other magazine guides, what’s special about Fashion’s? How about some bullet points? The trend lines could also use more punch. Summer leathers intrigue, but is there a harder lipstick shade to wear than orange? Finally, I miss a breath of spring on this cover. The black logo and mass of dark hair weigh it down at a time when readers hanker for lightness.

Anita Clarke, founder and editor in chief of fashion blog,
I'm not a fan of celebrity covers, but since Nicole Richie has moved into the fashion industry it gets a bare pass. I like that the layout isn't cluttered. I like the emphasis on the main topic of the magazine for this month, trends. The large font grabs your attention and is in the centre of the page; effective for this season. The Nicole Richie cover was a lucky break in timing since she has now gotten engaged.  She’s on people’s radar again.  The red dress is a good choice; it stands out from the white background. I notice some headline connections with Nicole’s outfit, the peek of a bra ("Lingerie Exposed") or her wavy hairstyle ("Bye Bye Bedhead, Hello Waves").  I like the simplicity in this cover.
Arjun Basu:
Jennifer Garner is stunning here. I'm even noticing that weird thing she's doing with her hands ­ which leads me to the oversized rings on her fingers. Well done. But she and her dress are as pale as a ghost (when compared to Nicole Richie in her bright dress). The subdued palette of this cover, right down to the logo, is not really newsstand friendly. You look at these two magazines side to side (as many people in magazine stores will) and Flare's cover fades away. There's better balance on this cover (with the way "style for less" in the upper left leads the eye to "325 Spring Finds" in the bottom right) but the wordiness isn't helping the overall weak pallor of the image. The cover ends up looking busy ­ kind of like that midsection of the dress ­ despite the balance, and so the eye, in the end, doesn¹t know quite where to focus.

Stacey May Fowles:

Pretty, soothing, and pleasing for sure, but not the same flashy standout in the newsstand mix that Fashion is. Flare's offering is certainly clean and well designed, but not as remarkable as it needs to be to gain attention in a sea of similar books. The red helps things, but next to Fashion's dramatic image and contrasts it doesn't hold up. Having said that, the lines themselves are certainly better here as Flare really plays well to its audience with direct, clear messaging.  This cover is jam-packed with stories that a potential Flare reader wants to pursue, told in a straightforward and direct matter. In fact, the perfect newsstand gold might be achieved with Fashion’s visuals and Flare’s coverlines.

Rona Maynard:
Rarely do covers project so much fun while working so hard. Jennifer Garner exudes a womanly playfulness that brings the promise of “sexy dresses” to life. Dresses don’t get any sexier than the one she’s wearing. Her accessories and unexpectedly dark nail polish expand the fashion story. Every coverline gives the reader one more reason to open the issue. “325 spring finds,” which would be just hot air on its own, gets heft from the supporting details. “Style for less” makes a high-impact choice for the prime, upper left-hand spot. My one quibble: weak bullet points under  “Beauty how-to special” (makeup in this package? Do tell!). Although there’s lots of type on this cover, it doesn’t feel crowded, thanks to a clean background and artful use of typography. Like an arrow, the lines in the lower right corner pull your eye to Garner’s hands and whatever she’s fiddling with as women do (I’m curious). She looks refreshingly real, bound for the red carpet on a spring evening.

Anita Clarke:

I'm not a fan of celebrity covers, and I’m not a fan of Jennifer Garner.  I’m not a fan of this picture of her.  I don’t like the fact that the dress blends in with the background.  I would prefer a stronger contrast to get me to pay attention.  The layout is cluttered. The same number of story headlines is on both covers, but this one seems to have a white space deficiency. There are too many words in their headlines.  There isn’t a key headline that pulls me in. I like that they are featuring Canadian collections this issue, that would entice me to buy. I’m also interested in the Balenciaga story.  There is no connection to Jennifer’s outfit to any of the topics. The tagline: “Canada’s Fashion Authority” gets lost in the light blue font.

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