The Carey Mulligan cover shot that keeps resurfacing: Same photo graces front of Vogue, Elle and Glamour magazine

The Carey Mulligan cover shot that keeps resurfacing: Same photo graces front of Vogue, Elle and Glamour magazines

French Elle (November 2011)

Bonjour, Mademoiselle: French Vogue”s November cover is a second-hand photo of Carey Mulligan

Radiant and demure, Carey Mulligan looks a million dollars as she shines from the cover of Vogue. And Glamour… and Elle.

The actress has fashion commentators” tongues wagging – not for her undeniably chic grasp on style, but because she has international glossy readers seeing in triplicate.

An identical photo of the Drive star has been used on major magazine covers three times in just 14 months.

It was first seen gracing the cover of U.S. Vogue in October 2010, then was used by German Glamour in December 2010, and then, mysteriously resurfaced on Elle France for their November 2011 issue. and both spotted the repeat use of the photo, which, albeit a lovely image, is an odd practice for such high profile magazines.

It”s relatively common, says Fashionista, for magazines to use the same photo – or one from the same shoot – when shared among titles owned by the same publishing house, as in the case of Vogue and Glamour.

But it is a strange move for a competing title as well as publishing house – here, Elle France”s Hachette Filipacchi – to use the same photo.

Wearing a Chanel Couture dress – thatthe 26-year-old star told the Daily Express was “very, very tiny” and so “wouldn”t go over [her] arse” – the elfin actress is seen in slightly varying styles of post-production, with Glamour magazine zooming in more, while each magazine uses different colour filters to pick out certainshades.

Vogue German Glamour, December 2010

Gutentag, Frauleine: The Peter Lindbergh shot originally appeared on Vogue”s cover last October, then popped up in October on the German edition of Glamour. Rights to the photo may belong to the photographer

The latest incarnation of the photo by Elle even looks like a slightly thinned down version of Ms Mulligan – recently spotted filming the Great Gatsby adaptation alongside Leonardo di Caprio in Sydney – with what appears to be shading added to the neck and left wrist area.

Ms Mulligan”s tri-cover photo is likely to be the result, as Fashionista suggests, of shrewd business manoeuvres by photographer Peter Lindbergh, who recently returned to fashion photography after 17 years away from the game.

A simple explanation would see the photographer owning the rights to the picture and selling it on after any embargoes lifted. Why it is the titles – each commanding a prevalent voice in the fashion world and respected internationally – would need to buy second-hand images is another question.

But the practice – which has fashion writers at both sites asking just how it is justified – isn”t limited to the beautiful Ms Mulligan.

Marie Claire Australia November Vogue Nippon, May 2011

Seeing double: Kate Moss graces both November”s Marie Claire Australia and Vogue Nippon”s May issue. The practice raises eyebrows as to why such respected titles need to resort to re-using old images for front covers

Huffington Post points out that a photo of Kate Moss on last month”s Marie Claire Australia is none other than that used by Vogue Nippon in May of this year.

The Australian magazine has tucked Ms Moss” hand into her feathered dress and the skin tone on the Japanese cover is deeper and more bronzed, but the image is one and the same.

The news site notes that the titles are owned by competing publishing houses – though readerships are deemed different enough for the feather-clad Ms Moss to make the cut twice in a single year.