Dakota Johnson’s Mario Testino Vogue shoot: pretty or too undone?


As we previewed yesterday, Dakota Johnson covers the February issue of Vogue Magazine (US). Fifty Shades of Grey will be released on Valentine’s Day, and this is probably the first of several major magazine covers for Dakota. Now that I’m looking through the Mario Testino photos… I don’t really get it. Stylistically, Vogue just phoned this in. I guess it’s nice that they don’t go hyper-dramatic with Dakota’s styling, but it feels like her makeup especially is TOO undone, to the point where she looks like Vogue just picked up a girl on the street and put her on the cover. You can read the full Vogue interview here. Some highlights:

Waiting for the release of Fifty Shades: “I think about my dwindling anonymity and that’s really scary because a very large part of me would be perfectly happy living on a ranch in Colorado and having babies and chickens and horses—which I will do anyway.” Still, she could not pass up the opportunity to play a character that so many people felt they knew. “I wanted to be involved because it’s so different,” says Dakota, “and it’s an intense love story.”

Her grandmother, Tippi Hedren, being abused by Alfred Hitchcock: “The studio system then was crazy—you were like a trained animal. It’s hard for me to hear.”

Growing up in LA: “L.A. really doesn’t feel like home to me anymore. Los Angeles is a really strange place. I grew up there like a normal kid, but it was not until I experienced other parts of the world that I realized how really and truly bizarre to the core it is—inside the homes of the powerful and damaged. Nashville is only a couple of hours from New York and people just move at a slower pace there—and they don’t care who you are or what you do.” In fact, her phone has been beeping almost constantly with Zillow alerts on Nashville real estate. “Sometimes it’s nice to just hang out in someone’s backyard instead of prancing around the city,” she says. “But other times . . . it’s nice to prance around the city!”

Falling into acting: “I just assumed that what I would be doing is making films because I grew up around people making films, making art, making music. And being on a film set is the most comforting thing in the world to me. Seeing a catering truck feels like home.”

Seeing the final cut of Fifty Shades: “It looks beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it. But it’s confusing to the brain—I still can’t look at it objectively or wrap my head around it. The parts of the movie that are difficult to watch were even more difficult—and emotionally taxing—to shoot.”

[From Vogue]

What’s funny is that throughout the entire article, Dakota is hanging out in big crowds and she’s with all of these high-fashion people… and barely anyone recognizes her. Is it because she really doesn’t stand out? Is it because she just has that ability to blend? Or is it because she really isn’t that big of a movie star… yet? Anyway, the whole article felt rather lukewarm, and that’s the impression I got from the photoshoot too. Like, this is a profoundly boring girl and Vogue was just going through the motions.


Photos courtesy of Mario Testino for VOGUE.

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87 Responses to “Dakota Johnson’s Mario Testino Vogue shoot: pretty or too undone?”

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  1. Dani2 says:

    This shoot doesn’t even look like something from Vogue magazine, I don’t know if it’s her or the styling but the whole vibe is very “meh”.

    • adrien says:

      It looks like an organic health mag cover than a fashion cover. She looks very ‘earthy’.

      • Dani2 says:

        I agree haha, it also looks like the album art for some indie singer-songwriter.

      • Mixtape says:

        I thought it looked like a photographer and a stylist ran into a random office, grabbed the receptionist, and said “Let’s do a Vogue shoot!” (BTW, that should totally be a daytime show on TLC or something.)

      • ElleV says:

        I dunno, the obvious strain in these poses (stiff back, hands in 1st pic, overly pointed toes in 2nd) gives it more of an America’s Next Top Model vibe to me.

    • Anne tommy says:

      I am rather reluctant to say it but she reminds me of a younger future Mrs Bendybatch…

      • ElleV says:

        They definitely have the same hair trauma – like, they’re both aiming for “mussy bangs as shorthand for indie” but landed on “Grade 9 picture day.”

    • Stef Leppard says:

      She looks awkward and like she’s about to burst into tears in all those photos.

    • lisa says:

      it’s like the insert from a tupperware catalog

  2. bammer says:

    Nepotism is disgusting. So many actresses are trying their hardest to work on their craft and hustle for auditions. This bland boring chick just gets everything handed to her on a silver platter.

  3. Green Is Good says:

    Nepotism at its most uncharismatic.

    • jane16 says:

      ^^^This. I hate to be mean, but there’s just no “there” there.

    • DottieDot says:

      Bless her heart. Could she be any more blah? It’s not like her mother’s acting chops were that great either. You are correct. 2nd generation nepotism.

  4. Sullivan says:

    She’s pretty in an unremarkable way. I think she might have a personality or charm that makes her more attractive. I don’t know anything about her.

  5. Talie says:

    I always forget Tippi Hedren is Melanie’s mom!

    • BengalCat2000 says:

      I’ve said many times that I think she resembles Tippi and I think she’s so pretty. Maybe it’s her hair and style that’s off? I’m not interested in this movie at all, but I’ll be interested to see how her career goes.
      OT, a few years ago I read Tippi’s book about her time with Hitchcock and it was fascinating.

  6. captain hero says:

    Is she funny or something?

  7. Greek Chic says:

    She’s sweet but kinda boring…i am not going to see the movie so i won’t learn about her acting skills. Am I the only one who didn’t know about the abuse story?

    • Esmom says:

      I wondered about Hitchcock and Hedren, too, I’ve never heard anything about it.

      • BengalCat2000 says:

        Read her book Spellbound. She tells all about the Hitchcock weirdness and it’s so good. He put her tthrough Hell!

      • Esmom says:

        I will, thanks for the recommendation.

      • JenniferJustice says:

        The movie was pretty good too. Very creepy what men got away with…more so then than now if you can beleive that. They didn’t have to sneak or lie about it back then. It was part of the overt sexist entitlement and Hitchcock was more than just sexist and entitled. He was angry in his conviction that he was unattractive, but felt owed.

      • Someonestolemyname says:

        Sienna Miller did a good jobbplaying Tippi in the movie about her time making films with Hitch. He was so controlling.

        Also the Hitchcock film with Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins showed traces of how bizarre Hitch was.

  8. trishy says:

    To me, has that Sienna Miller quality, in that I can’t pick her out of a lineup. Pretty, but generic and kinda forgettable. It’s sad, because Melanie is so striking and charismatic. Guess it doesn’t always pass down.

    • Someonestolemyname says:

      Melanie looks terrible, total ruined her face with so much surgery.
      Tippi looks wonderful though.

      • trishy says:

        I should have said “used to be” striking. Yes, she has sadly ruined her face. It would have been nice to see her age naturally. I’ll remember her as she was in “Working Girl.”

  9. GingerCrunch says:

    Proud to say I never read Fifty Shades, but isn’t her character supposed to be a mousy/invisible type? Seems like perfect casting. And I never truly understood the judgement on bad bangs, but I hope this isn’t her signature look. Sheesh.

    • Nephelim says:

      Those people asking for a charismatic, sexy, “non beige” Anastasia Steele, are asking for a different type of movie and character.
      Dakota is okay for Anastasia except way too tall

  10. Joy says:

    I’ve seen high school senior portraits that were more compelling. If anything, she could eventually be one of those character actresses who is good at playing second or third fiddle. She’s so vanilla she could sort of become anything or anyone. However, I think she will instead try to make the vanilla into leading lady status.

    • Chrissy says:

      I’ve never seen her in anything. and if I have she didn’t leave any impression. She’s probably quite a nice boring average girl but I fear when the reviews for this stinky movie come out and the lack of chemistry between her and Jamie Dornan becomes well known, she’ll be torn to shreds. She seems the sensitive sort. I hope someone’s there to pick up the pieces and I also hope that Jamie’s career survives. At least he shows some promise and charisma.

  11. PunkyMomma says:

    That shoot is so beige, very generic. That’s not shade on her – Lord I wish I had her legs (or her mother’s for that matter). But Dakota seems diluted by the industry already.

  12. Esmom says:

    I think she’s pretty and I like the styling. It is very undone but it’s kind of a nice change of pace from some of the over the top concepts of some of their shoots.

    She seems pretty humble to me, recognizing that nepotism is at work here and that Hollywood is a whacked-out place, hopefully that bodes well for her future.

  13. kri says:

    I just feel not much of anything about her, except some very mild perplexation ( new word). She’s like a park bench.

  14. Tifygodess24 says:

    The cover is lovely – very basic and stripped down which is a nice change BUT she really could use some mascara. Just a little something more would have added a nice touch.

  15. Dragonlady Sakura says:

    Meh…she’s comes off as boring and bland. Like a white bread, all mayo sandwich.

  16. scout says:

    She is pretty, got her mom’s long legs but I took a teeny weeny nap while watching this video. No personality, too plain or not much acting chops unfortunately.


  17. anon says:

    She is sweet and pretty but not an actress material . She lacks charisma.

  18. The New Classic says:

    From now on I’m calling this girl oatmeal. Bland, boring, uninteresting, unappetizing oatmeal.

    ETA: after reading that her mom is Melanie Griffith something kind of triggered a memory and I made my way over to google. Dakota and Melanie were the mother daughter team that created a mini scandal in 2006 when Melanie was papped helping then 17 year old Dakota light up a cigarette. I remember looking at the pics back then and being disgusted with Melanie’s parenting. Definitely doesn’t help me like Dakota or her family any more.

    • pat says:

      Unfortunately for her, you’re not the only one calling her oatmeal. I’ve seen oatmeal, beige, dull, drab, unfortunate and those are the most generous comments. On another site, I think you know which one, they ripped her apart. I’m wondering how brainless, drunk and/or medicated do I have to be to believe this is high fashion and not some random girl’s selfies. I think it’s time Anna Wintour retires. I cancelled my Vogue subscription a few years ago and I guess I’m not missing much. Nevertheless, Dakota’s PR/management seem to be working overtime to try and convince us that somehow this girl matters. That she’s shy and uncomfortable with all the attention. Sure she is. Sure she is.

  19. Dee says:

    Her mom was very beautiful in her youth…and her Grandmother is still a knock out.

    Not quite Alexa Ray’s quandary…but pretty close.

    • A.Key says:

      I just googled Tippi Hedren – OMFG!!!!!!!!!!! Both Melanie and Dakota just cannot compare. Wow, it’s like all that beauty’s been diluted through the generations.

  20. Penelope says:

    She’s pretty in an unremarkable way. She had a small role in the Social Network, and she was pretty good in it. I don’t mind her all that much. If she’s truly untalented she’ll go the Rumer Willis route pretty quickly, albeit with better looks (low bar).

  21. shannon says:

    i don’t mind it.

  22. Morgan says:

    I thought the mousy hair and dopey bangs were just for the movie but she seems to be keeping them — awful!

  23. kibbles says:

    Dakota has a plain face, so I don’t know why Vogue decided to focus on her face for the cover photo. The magazine played it too safe when it should have went for a more provocative and dramatic shot that maybe showed her entire body and a bit of skin. The other photos look better and the one with her sitting on the floor in her underwear would have been better for the cover. I still don’t know why the shoot has a 70s vibe to it. The shoot does not reflect the movie at all. I would have used a more modern and cold backdrop for the shoot, maybe outdoors on the rooftop of an industrial building or with Dakota inside a penthouse or a corporate office that looked like Christian Grey’s with her in lingerie or a slinky dress. Why isn’t Vogue being more imaginative?

  24. Mollie says:

    It is SELF magazine, not Vogue. Just switch out the titles and suddenly it makes sense. She’s pretty in the way that some of my friends and coworkers are lovely, but Vogue? Really?

    • Chrissy says:

      It seems that Vogue lowered the bar so much lately that any of us could be cover girls! And will probably sell as many copies as this issue will sell….maybe more, I predict.

  25. Josefa says:

    I couldn’t even read that whole fragment of the interview. She’s just so uninteresting.

  26. Suki2 says:

    Nepotism usually doesn’t result in interesting, exceptional or high quality anything. Can’t be said enough here and elsewhere.

  27. Dońt kill me i'm french says:

    Finally she looks perfectly casted to act Grey’s Ana. She’s pretty and bland/beige like the character

    • JenniferJustice says:

      I disagree. In the book, Ana is modest and somewhat invisible, but she is suppose to lovely in a quiet way (that’s a quote from the book) and she had beautiful thick hair and a great hind-end….Dakota? Um no. I interpreted Ana to be better looking than she gave herself credit for and she hid herself in loose unappealing clothes. They should have cast an actress who is naturally attractive (no makeup), but if cleaned up and polished, people would take notice.

  28. Angie says:

    She seems very shy (or perhaps introverted?) Her mom Melanie can seem that way too but in a Marilyn Monroe’sh sexy and paradoxically exhibitionist type way. Also Melanie has charisma. Dakota’s dad was a charismatic sex symbol back in the day too. It’s really interesting to see how different she seems from her famous parents. Maybe she will end up surprising us.
    This photoshoot though seems incredibly blah.
    I agree with @adrien above: It looks like an organic health food magazine cover.

  29. OTHER RENEE says:

    I think the cover would have been nicer if she’d just smiled.

  30. booboobird says:

    This undermade cover reminds me of Charlotte Gainsbourg who, i think, is the only one able to pull this look off. Dakota has the aura of a massive snoozefest. I’ll pass.

    • manta says:

      I thought Charlotte Gainsbourg, especially on the second pic (actually a mix from a Gainsbourg/Birkin pic). But Charlotte gives a cooler/edgier vibe.

  31. Tara says:

    She’s so perfectly bland I feel like “bland” has never been truly defined before now.

  32. Laura says:


  33. mar says:

    I like it A LOT!!!!!

    I never thought her face was captured well on film so far, ( admit I have not seen much of her work) but I like these pics a lot.

  34. Dirty Martini says:

    I’m commenting somewhat blind to the specifics (I haven’t read 50 shades of whatever). My understanding is the character she is playing was ….just your average girl. So if she as cast to play “average girl” then it is good casting, right? Candidly I think she’s pretty in a very undone, relateable way. No she isn’t mega watt star ….and thank god for that. I’m kind of done with their craziness.

    This girl is pretty, she took a pretty intense role is my understanding, and…well….I just don’t feel the need to get all hot and bothered over Dakota Johnson. I have warm feelings for her–kind of like my son’s 2nd grade teacher. I don’t get why all the hate because candidly–she didn’t do anything to deserve anyones hate other than not live up to the Hollywood stereotype. Did she get the job over nepotism? I kinda doubt it because neither DOn Johnson or Melanie G are really all that influential these days, or powerful–now are they? We aren’t talking about Meryl’s daughter here–cmon.

    Hence my warm feelings. Moving on now.

    • Nephelim says:


    • Anonymous says:

      You’re right, DJ and MG aren’t as “influential” anymore; but growing up in Hollywood means Dakota knows everyone who’s anyone, and that means doors have been opened for her that aren’t opened for your average girl-trying-to-catch-a-break. And that’s nepotism.

  35. Carol says:

    I haven’t really seen her in anything yet, so maybe she has some sort of charisma or something that comes out on film but not in real life or pictures. I think Kristen Stewart is as boring as the sidewalk but some people think she has “it”. I like the Vogue shoot though, especially the house they shot it at!!!

  36. tds says:

    She looks like Cumberbatch’s fiancee. He has a type…

  37. EricaV says:

    These pictures look too in character for me. Is this supposed to be Dakota Johnson or the 50 Shades Girl? They should’ve dyed her hair back to blonde before this shoot so it’s about HER & not her character.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a boring VOGUE cover. It’s worse than Kimye’s.

  38. angee says:

    Having worked in photography and with photographers that have done magazine covers, I can confidently report that all photographs — especially front covers — are photoshopped. Every face has it’s issues.

  39. siena says:

    This cover feels silly and presumptuous for a girl playing AnaBella Steele Swan in Twilight fanfic. I understand the month of February, for magazines and film, is dead season, but this is an uninspiring beige mess. Award season is in full swing that surely they could have swapped this blandness for something/someone more compelling and worthy. Is Vogue relevant to anyone anymore?

  40. meegs says:

    So are these photos the replacement for every sleep aid ever?

  41. MyHonestOpinion says:

    Its an ok Vogue cover but like quite a few have said it looks more like an organic health magazine cover. I hope she goes to a university and does something more productive in life than acting. Hollywood is so unbelievably shallow.

  42. Nicole says:

    I like the cover shot. She’s looking at me like she’s really listening. Dumb as a post though.

  43. Tilewa says:

    The judgmental and mean comments here are amazing. For me, she fits the bill as described in the book. She’s pretty in a natural way. And why so much focus on nepotism…we could go in about the Laura Derns, Gwyneths etc if this world (first job with parent!). Dakota seems humble and I personally will reserve judgement till I’ve seen the movie — I’m glad I don’t get judged on whether I’m bland from a picture!