Madonna in Harper's Bazaar: Dishes on 'W.E.,' Fashion, Power and the Cult of Celebrity (Poll)

Her directorial effort about Wallis Simpson will be couture heaven for fashionistas, with 60 costumes from Vionnet, Balenciaga, Dior and authentic reproductions from Cartier.

Madonna is in Harper's Bazaar again, this time interviewed by Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth. Their chat focuses on the issues of women, power and celebrity, clearly forces she can (still) identify with. And this probably explains why those issues also resonate in her new film, W.E.

W.E.  is a cinematic version of the story of Wallis Simpson, the American divorcée so loved by British monarch King Edward VIII that he abdicated his throne to marry her in 1936. But don't expect a traditional biopic.

PHOTOS: Madonna on the Scene at the Venice Film Festival 2011

Madonna co-wrote the film that juxtaposes Wally (played by Abbie Cornish), a modern trophy wife trapped in an abusive relationship, with Wallis Simpson (played by Andrea Riseborough). The two women's stories become intertwined when Wallis enters the mind of the modern Wally as a mentor.

"The movie is all about the cult of celebrity," says Madonna. "We like to put people on a pedestal, give them one character trait, and if they step outside of that shrine-like area that we blocked out for them, then we will punish them. Wallis Simpson became famous by default, by capturing the heart of the king, but it's obviously a subject I'm constantly on the inside of, and the outside of."

While the reviews have been mixed, the film is poised to be a costume contender, with over 60 couture costume changes. Oscar-nominated (Walk the LIne) costume designer Ariane Phillips, Madonna's longtime stylist who designed costumes for her last four tours, created the costumes based on Simpson's real life wardrobe of the likes of Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Vionnet and Elsa Schiaparelli.

PHOTOS: Madonna at the 2011 Met Gala

Most of these gowns are now archived in museums. But many of the couture houses agreed to make duplicate costumes for the film. Philips created the rest often out of vintage fabric, based on patterns from the museum archives. Neil Lane, Dior, Dunhill, Stephen Jones Millinery and jeweler Alexis Bittar also contributed major pieces.

Madonna asked Cartier to reproduce the emerald engagement ring and a bracelet with nine crosses in platinum and precious stones that the Duke of Windsor gave Walls to seal their relationship. Cartier never makes copies. But they did it for Madonna. Now that's power.
It's fair to say that Madonna never does anything half way. Perhaps that's why Harper's Bazaar prepared two Madonna covers: one for their newsstand readers and one for subscribers. Which one do you prefer?