Vogue Italia is flying off the shelves

For more than three weeks, fashion stalwart Tracey Ferguson of Jones magazine has been scouring the city for the innovative issue of Vogue Italia, which dazzled the international fashion world with its issue featuring only black models.

This is unheard of: An unprecedented glossy showcase of the fashion and entertainment world's top darker-hued faces, wrapped up in a stunning four-page foldout cover of supermodels Naomi Campbell, Jourdan Dunn, Liya Kebede and Sessilee Lopez.

Ferguson, the editor-in-chief of the fashion and lifestyle quarterly, recently got so desperate for a peek at the international fashion bible that she convinced a friend in New York to scan and e-mail the pages of the magazine to her.

She hasn't stopped gushing about the photo spreads.

“They're beautiful. I didn't realize it would be this hard to get a copy,” Ferguson said. “I've been to Borders, I've been to Barnes & Noble, to Issues – all sold out. I'm like, ‘What?'”

Ferguson should have known better.

The issue was the brainchild of Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani, who was inspired by Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and the lack of diversity on the fashion runways.

She decided to do something about it and teamed with top fashion photographer Steven Meisel, who shot the models. The fashion and the media worlds haven't stopped talking about the July issue ever since.

It is a hot commodity, driving some fashionistas to eye the fast and fierce bidding world on eBay – where the $17 copy sold recently for $38.

Some were offering a package of the four different covers for $400.

“I did a lot of research, a lot of calling to find this magazine,” said Crystal Smiley, 24, a retail sales associate at the clothing store White House, Black Market.

“I called Conde Nast in New York, I contacted Vogue via e-mail, but they didn't have anything to do with the international Vogue.”

The Spring, Texas, resident finally landed her copy at Issues, a Montrose magazine store that specializes in foreign language periodicals.

Owner Bang Tran said his shop has been bombarded with callers desperate to get ahold of the magazine. Smiley was placed on a waiting list of 60 people, and close to two dozen more are still waiting.

Smiley also snatched two more copies at a Borders in The Woodlands for her friends, saying she wanted to get as many copies as she could.

“I unwrapped the plastic seal and looked at the pictures just once and put it back in the sleeve,” she explained. “I dare not touch it ever again.”