Very nude and very pregnant, Demi Moore appeared on Vanity Fair’s August 1991 cover. The photo of the 28-year old actress holding her belly with one hand and covering her breasts with the other was deemed too risque for the public eye. The magazine was either dressed in a white envelope with the words, “More Demi Moore,” with only her eyes visible above the envelope or wrapped in a brown envelope — that now-almost-forgotten stigma of racy magazines.
The cover was shot by Annie Leibovitz, who envisioned an “Anti-Hollywood, anti-glitz” return after a decade of power-suits. Vanity Fair’s then editor Tina Brown loved the cover, and so did the board of Conde Nast, Vanity Fair’s parent company. Risking a potential loss of up to 40,000 sales, the magazine decided to go ahead with the publication.
The cover was controversial, culturally significant and empowering. Yet, nearly two decades on, pregnant celebrities posing nude have already become a trite cliche. This week, Vogue magazine with Claudia Schiffer in a similar pose will go on sale, joining other celebrity copycats such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Monica Bellucci and Cindy Crawford. Annie Leibowitz herself would pose pregnant and naked. It inspired direct parodies too: from Banksy, from Spy magazine replaced Moore’s then-husband Bruce Willis’ head on her body and from the film Naked Gun 33⅓ used the photo on its poster, which led to a court-case.