Marie Claire's 'big scoop'
Magazine readers might at first be fooled into thinking that the South African version of Marie Claire scored a coup by getting Kate Middleton to grace its August cover.
But the Duchess of Cambridge famously declines to pose for fashion rags - even when invited by British Vogue.
Middleton's image on Marie Claire's cover - she appears with her hand casually on her hip, made-up and smiling - is in fact an illustration in which she's wearing a creation by South African designer Clive Rundle.
The cover splash boldly states: "Fashion's new royal icon wears SA's best local designs."
Marie Claire SA editor Aspasia Karras acknowledges the fantasy element of her fashion shoot with the declaration: "Of course, she doesn't [wear local designs]." But she should."
"The cover is actually a hyper-realistic illustration of Kate, meant to be a fan-art tribute to fashion's new royal icon," said Karras, adding that the idea behind the Middleton image was to recreate the classic vintage magazine covers that were illustration-based, honouring icons of their era.
"We approached five illustrators with the idea and asked them to have some fun imagining what it would be like if Kate came to South Africa on a state visit and decided to wear clothes by our favourite local designers," she says.
"We chose Clive Kirk's hyper-realistic drawing for our cover."
The other four drawings are featured inside the magazine.
Marie Claire SA's chief copy editor, Nicci Collier, got to play duchess for a day when she agreed to be shot as the princess's body double.
But since the edition's release, the cover has garnered a lot of negative responses from international publications questioning the ethics of bypassing traditional routes for getting celebrities to endorse a magazine.
"This is clearly a cheaper and easier option," states The Examiner. "Cool or creepy?" asks The Huffington Post.
"Fan art or false advertising," asks the Herald Sun, and The Daily Telegraph describes the image as "a Frankenstein cover featuring the head and hands of Kate, stitched onto the body of a fashion model".
Most comments refer to the cover as being Photoshopped, or superimposed on an existing picture of the royal.
But this is not the case, insists Karras, though she admits that the fashion chosen for the spread is not in keeping with Middleton's usual style.