The first illustrated fashion magazine grew out of a weekly society paper that began in 1892. Vogue magazine's inauspicious start as a failing journal did not preview the success that it would become. In 1909, a young publisher, Condé Nast, bought the paper and transformed it into a leading magazine that signaled a new approach to women's magazines. In 1910, the once small publication changed to a bi-monthly format, eventually blossoming into an international phenomenon with nine editions in nine countries: America, Australia, Brazil, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Spain.
Following the vision of Condé Nast, Vogue has continued to present cultural information, portraits of artists, musicians, writers, and other influential people as well as the current fashion trends. Since its inception, the magazine has striven to portray the elite and serve as an example of proper etiquette, beauty, and composure. Vogue not only contributes to the acceptance of trends in the fashion and beauty industry, but additionally has become a record of the changes in cultural thinking, actions, and dress. Glancing through Vogue from years past documents the changing roles of women, as well as the influences of politics and cultural ideas throughout the twentieth century.
The power that Vogue has had over many generations of women has spawned a plethora of other women's magazines—such as Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Mademoiselle —which have sought to claim part of the growing market of interest. Despite the abundance of women's magazines, no other publication has been able to achieve the lasting influence and success of Vogue.
By incorporating photography in 1913, and under the direction of Edna Woolman Chase (Editor-in-Chief from 1914 to 1951) and Art Director Dr. Mehemed Gehmy Agha, Vogue reinvented its image several times. With the occurrence of the Depression and later, World War II, readership soared. Readers looked to the magazine to escape from the reality of the hardships in their lives. In the midst of the Depression fashions reflected the glamour of Hollywood; then came movies with their enormous influence on the ideas of fashion and beauty. Photographers Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton, and Baron de Meyer emphasized this glamour by presenting their models in elaborate settings. Additionally, Vogue began focusing on more affordable, ready-to-wear clothing collections. During the war, images of fashions within the magazine emulated the practicality of the era. Different, more durable and affordable fabrics, and simple designs became prominent. The magazine demonstrated that even in difficult circumstances, women still strove for the consistency of caring for everyday concerns regarding fashion and beauty. Balancing the lighter features, ex-Vogue model and photographer Lee Miller's images of the liberation of Europe also provided a somber and intellectual view of the war. This element of the magazine kept readers involved and informed of the realities of the war.
Under the supervision of Jessica Daves (Editor-in-Chief 1952-1962) and Russian émigré Alexander Liberman (Art Director 1943-December 1963, Editorial Director of Condé Nast Publications, Inc. 1963—), simplicity of design in Vogue prevailed after World War II. One main component of the re-formatting undertaken by Daves and Liberman was the hiring of photographer Irving Penn in 1943, who, along with Richard Avedon, modernized fashion photography by simplifying it. Penn used natural lighting and stripped out all super-fluous elements; his images focused purely on the fashions. Penn and other photographers also contributed portraits of notable people, travel essays, and ethnographic features to the magazine. Thoughtful coverage on the issues of the day, in addition to the variety of these stories and supplementary columns—including "People Are Talking About," an editorial consisting of news regarding art, film, theater, and celebrities' lives—counterbalanced the fashion spreads which showcased the seasonal couture collections. Vogue magazine became multi-faceted, appealing to readers across several economic and social stratus.
Diana Vreeland (Editor-in-Chief, 1963 to June 1971), with her theatrical style, brought to the magazine a cutting-edge, exciting quality. Vreeland, famous for coining the term "Youthquake," focused on the changing ideas of fashion in the 1960s. Under her hand, Vogue became even more fashion oriented, with many more pages devoted to clothing and accessories. Imagination and fantasy were the ideals to portray within the pages of the magazine. Clothes were colorful, bright, revealing, and filled with geometric shapes that played with the elements of sex and fun. Additionally, during this era, models no longer became merely mannequins but personalities. The photographs depicted the models in action-filled poses, often outside of a studio setting. The women became identifiable; Suzy Parker, Penelope Tree, Twiggy, and Verushka became household names and paved the way for Cindy, Claudia, Christy, and Naomi, the supermodels of the 1980s and 1990s.
Collaborating with photographers such as Helmut Newton, Sarah Moon, and Deborah Tuberville, Grace Mirabella (Editor-in-Chief, July 1971 to October 1988) also brought a sensual quality to the magazine; the blatant sexualized images from the 1960s became more understated, although no less potent. Tinged with erotic and sometimes violent imagery, the fashion layouts featured clothing with less of an exhibitionist quality; apparel became more practical. Filling the fashion pages were blue denim garments and easy to wear attire. Mirabella, in keeping with this practicality, adapted the magazine to a monthly publication. At this time, Vogue also shrank in cut size to conform to postal codes. As a result, each page became packed with information; Vogue became a magazine formulated for a society filled with working women on the go.
The tradition of Vogue as a publication that covers all aspects of each generation continues. Under the guidance of Anna Wintour (Editor-in-Chief, November 1988—) the magazine has expanded beyond only reporting cultural and political issues and presenting fashion trends, and is now considered to validate new designs and designers. Vogue continually seeks out, presents, and promotes new ideas regarding clothing, accessories, and beauty products, and as a magazine entertains, educates, and guides millions of women.
Devlin, Polly, with an introduction by Alexander Liberman. Vogue Book of Fashion Photography. London, Thames and Hudson, 1979.
Kazajian, Dodie, and Calvin Tomkins. Alex: The Life of Alexander Liberman. New York, A.A. Knopf, 1993.
Lloyd, Valerie. The Art of Vogue Photographic Covers: Fifty Years of Fashion and Design. New York, Harmony Books, 1986.
Vogue is fashion's bible, the world's leading fashion publication. It was founded in 1892 as a weekly periodical focused on society and fashion, and was subscribed to by New York's elite. Condé Nast (1873–1942) bought the magazine in 1909 and began to transform it into a powerhouse.
Vogue delivered beautifully presented, authoritative content under the leadership and watchful eyes of a few talented editors-in-chief. One of the most notable, Edna Woolman Chase, became editor in 1914 and remained at its helm for thirty-eight years, until 1952. Caroline Seebohm, Nast's biographer, credits Chase with introducing new American talents to the fashion audience. Chase gave full coverage to European, and especially Parisian, fashions, but her approach also suggested that American women might exercise a certain independence of taste.
Chase's successor, Jessica Daves, served as editor in chief from 1952 to 1963 and is remembered primarily for her business acumen. She was followed by the flamboyant Diana Vreeland, whose eight-year tenure (1963– 1971) documented "Youthquake," street-influenced youth fashions, and space age and psychedelic fashions. Vreeland's successor was her colleague Grace Mirabella, who served as editor-in-chief from 1971 to 1988. Mirabella was the antithesis of Vreeland; her watchwords for fashion were functionality and affordability. Whereas Vreeland wrote in 1970, "In the evening we go east of the sun and west of the moon—we enter the world of fantasy," Mirabella countered, in 1971, "When you come to evening this year, you do not come to another planet." Mirabella approached the "antifashion" 1970s with a levelheaded stance that addressed a growing constituency of the magazine: the working woman.
Anna Wintour became editor-in-chief of the magazine in 1988 and combined a shrewd and appealing mix of high and low. Her first cover for the magazine, in November 1988, featured model Michaela in a jeweled Lacroix jacket—worn with blue jeans.
A controlling interest in Condé Nast Publications was acquired in 1959 by S. I. Newhouse, who subsequently became the sole owner of the corporation. There are now more than twelve editions of Vogue: American, Australian, Brazilian, British, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Taiwanese, Chinese, and Korean. Teen Vogue was launched in 2003. (Nast inaugurated the international editions with British Vogue in 1916 and French Vogue in 1920.)
Nast's original "formula" for Vogue was based on service, which Seebohm translates as disseminating fashion information to his readers as efficiently and clearly as possible. Clarity did not exclude creativity, and the magazine became well known for its own stylish look. Vogue's most famous art and creative directors were M. F. (Mehmed Fehney) Agha, who started at Vogue in 1929, and Alexander Liberman, who joined the staff in 1941. The magazine has employed the foremost illustrators and photographers of its times. (The first photographic cover appeared in 1932; color printing was introduced in the following year.) Its glossy pages maintain the highest standards for the visual presentation of fashion. Vogue is still the stuff that many dreams are made of.
Chase, Edna Woolman, and Ilka Chase. Always in Vogue. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1954.
Daves, Jessica. Ready-Made Miracle. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1967.
Dwight, Eleanor. Diana Vreeland. New York: William Morrow and Company, 2002.
Mirabella, Grace. In and Out of Vogue: A Memoir. New York: Doubleday and Company, 1995.
Seebohm, Caroline. The Man Who Was Vogue: The Life and Times of Condé Nast. New York: Viking Penguin, 1962.
Vogue is one of the world's most influential lifestyle magazines covering women's fashion and beauty. Founded as a weekly society paper in 1892 and purchased by Condé Nast in 1909, Vogue was the first magazine of its kind to use lavish photographic spreads and colorful graphics to highlight the latest fashion trends. So influential did the magazine become that the phrase "Vogue model" became a synonym for the highest standards in beauty, composure, and sophistication.
Under editor-in-chief Edna Woolman Chase (1877–1957) and art director Mehemed Gehmy Agha (1896–1978), Vogue published the work of leading photographers like Edward Steichen (1879–1973), Sir Cecil Beaton (1904–1980), and Baron de Meyer (1868–1949). These photographers presented their models in glamorous settings that reflected the elaborate Hollywood (see entry under 1930s—Film and Theater in volume 2) movies of the period. During World War II (1939–45), Vogue concentrated more on affordable, ready-to-wear lines of clothing but continued to emphasize quality and style.
In the postwar era, editor-in-chief Jessica Davies collaborated with art director Alexander Liberman (1912–1999) to reform the magazine using simpler, more contemporary graphics. Together with photographers Irving Penn (1917–) and Richard Avedon (1923–), they reinvented the fashion magazine with images that used starker lighting and that put a stronger focus on the model. Vogue also upgraded its coverage of contemporary events by including more serious commentaries on art, film, and theater and articles on the lives of celebrities and entertainers.
Editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland (1906–1989), credited with coining the term "youthquake," brought an edgier tone to the magazine by highlighting the colorful and revealing fashions and accessories that were representative of the "swinging sixties." Models such as Twiggy (1949–), Penelope Tree (1950–), and Verushka (1939–) became celebrities in their own right via photo shoots that showed them in action-filled, "real life" poses outside the studio. Vreeland's successor, Grace Mirabella (1929–), guided the magazine through the so-called feminist era of the 1970s, when women wanted to be taken seriously in the workplace without sacrificing elegance and good taste. During this period, Vogue itself shrank in size from a large-format magazine and became a monthly. Mirabella was succeeded as editor-in-chief by Anna Wintour (1949–), who promoted fashion trends by new designers.
For More Information
Devlin, Polly. Liberman. Vogue Book of Fashion Photography. London: Thames and Hudson, 1979.
Kazajian, Dodie, and Calvin Tomkins. Alex: The Life of Alexander Liberman. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993.
Lloyd, Valerie. The Art of Vogue Photographic Covers: Fifty Years of Fashion and Design. New York: Harmony Books, 1986.
vogue / vōg/ • n. [usu. in sing.] the prevailing fashion or style at a particular time: the vogue is to make realistic films. ∎ general acceptance or favor; popularity: the 1920s and 30s, when art deco was much in vogue. • adj. popular; fashionable: “citizenship” was to be the government's vogue word. • v. (vogued, vogue·ing or vogu·ing) [intr.] dance to music in such a way as to imitate the characteristic poses struck by a model on a catwalk. DERIVATIVES: vogu·ish adj.