September issues 2015
Beyonce, Kerry Washington, Ciara and Serena Williams have graced the September issues of four magazinesTwitter

For such a forward-thinking industry, the fashion world can often be terribly behind the times. Whether it is a "plus-size" model trying to get a foot on the runway or a talented, aspiring designer struggling to get his pieces showcased, the industry is a notoriously tough place. However, there are four well known, successful and beautiful women who have just broken through the glass ceiling in red-bottom stilettos. They are "the fantastic four".

Grammy-winning singer Beyonce, tennis champion Serena Williams, Emmy-nominated actress Kerry Washington and platinum-selling singer Ciara are each gracing the covers of four magazines in the all-important month of September. For those who are not entirely fashion-savvy, the September issue is not just like any other regular edition rolled out every other month. It is: "The September Issue". Similar to how Vogue magazine is regarded as the fashion bible for style obsessives, the September issue is widely seen as the holy grail of magazines.

Beyonce, or queen Bey as she is affectionately known as to her fans, has made the biggest statement of all by fronting Vogue's September 2015 cover. It is the third time an African-American woman will have been on the cover of the prestigious issue – supermodel Naomi Campbell did the honours in 1989 and Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry appeared in 2010. It is also the third time Beyonce has posed as the cover star for Vogue overall.

In the magazine's own words, why did they choose Beyonce? Matter-of-factly, the publication states: "There's only one September issue, and there's only one Beyonce." Indeed, the Flawless hitmaker has long been considered music royalty, so there was really no better choice of African-American female singer to become the first musical artist to grace the September issue. The achievement has undoubtedly been made even more special for Beyonce due to the fact that she celebrates her 34th birthday on 4 September.

The mother-of-one is not only influential to the music industry, she is also valued in fashion. Respected designer Marc Jacobs enthuses: "The word 'diva' is used for so many female performers, and it often means they have reputations for being difficult, but she exudes charm and a lovable quality."

What is particularly intriguing about the Vogue feature is that queen Bey has, unusually, chosen not to give the magazine an interview – it is simply a pictorial piece. As the saying goes, a picture speaks a thousand words and it is no secret that the singer would rather stay schtum than speak to the media if given the opportunity. It may not appear this way initially but the absence of words significantly increases the power of the cover – not many artists can afford to feature in a magazine without feeling the need to flog their latest endorsement or album.

Vogue September 2015 factsheet

-- It will have 832 pages. The largest Vogue September issue was published in 2012, boasting 916 pages

-- The issue will weigh four pounds and three ounces

Beyonce is a trailblazer in her field of expertise and, likewise, Vogue has long set the bar for the September issue. The big question is, just why does this month have such an esteemed reputation like no other? Any fashionista worth their salt will have seen the fascinating 2009 documentary, The September Issue, which goes behind the scenes at Vogue's New York headquarters while the unstoppable team work tirelessly to put together the 2007 edition.

Revered editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and her senior members of staff are seen in full Devil Wears Prada mode, making cut-throat decisions on the final pieces that eventually filled the 820-pages. At that hefty size, September Vogue is more akin to an Argos catalogue than a monthly editorial. However, its physical weight reflects the enormity of the impact it will inevitably have on the particular trends that stylists, models and designers will follow in the coming months.

With the change in season from summer to autumn, September is viewed as the period in which women seek to give their image a complete overhaul and with Fashion Week falling in that same month in New York, London, Milan and Paris, it is imperative that publications have the right person fronting their brand.

Beyonce is that person for Vogue but how do women of colour fare across the rest of the magazine landscape? Weeks after being branded "a man" by one ignorant Twitter user, Grand Slam queen Serena Williams proudly embraced her athletic physique on The New Yorker's September cover. Just like the fierce photo shoot, the headline pulled no punches, boldly stating: "Serena Williams Is America's Greatest Athlete." With a complimentary message of that level, an interview would not even have been necessary.

On another end of the female empowerment spectrum is Scandal actress Kerry Washington, who appears on the front of Self magazine basking in all her motherhood glory. Alongside photos of the actress flaunting her post-baby weight loss, the 38-year-old puts a positive spin on the issue of body image for mothers worried about getting into shape.

"I've been really focused on not being 'back' to anything, but being the best version of myself right now. My body is the site of a miracle now. I don't want to be pre-miracle," she states in the interview. Olivia Pope would be proud.

Also representing the mothers is r'n'b star Ciara, who reveals how she lost 60lb (27kg) after giving birth to son Future Zahir. Just like Beyonce, Williams and Washington, the 29-year-old is the magazine's September cover girl. CiCi certainly holds weight in the fashion industry – in May, the Body Party singer was revealed as the new face of designer Roberto Cavalli's autumn/winter line so landing a September cover only cements her rightful place in the industry.

Sure, the fashion world can be incredibly dated in regards to race and size but is it more ahead of the curve than music? At a time when Beyonce, Ciara, Williams and Washington, prominent women of colour, are breaking down barriers, rapper Nicki Minaj is accusing the MTV Video Music Awards of discriminating against African Americans. Of course, that is purely the opinion of Minaj given that three other black people were nominated in the specified category.

Still, change is evident in the fashion industry. In 2014, US Vogue featured a record-breaking number of black celebrities on its covers, four to be exact, with Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, supermodel Joan Smalls, rapper Kanye West and pop singer Rihanna, the chosen ones. The change also stretches to the UK with rising runway star Jourdan Dunn becoming the first black model in 12 years to grace the cover of the British Vogue.

Fast forward to September 2015 and the achievement of the current fantastic four has been perfectly summed up in one tweet by People.com's former editor, Janet Mock, who stated: "The black girl takeover of fashion's September issues is beyond anything I've seen as a journalist."

That is certainly true. In the words of a wise man, Giorgio Armani once said: "Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered." Well, these four elegant women have just shared a moment that, hopefully, will not be forgotten.

Still working on that toe point @gqlew

A photo posted by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on