Vogue 100 : a century of style
Vogue 100, currently showing at the National Portrait Gallery, is an exhibition celebrating 100 years of this iconic magazine. When we visited we fully expected to see images of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Alexander McQueen but found ourselves surprised when we chanced upon the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Martin Amis and Fred Astaire. Vogue has always been about fashion but this exhibition made us rethink and want to revisit the magazine. Winchester School of Art Library has an extensive collection and holds many of the magazines featured in the exhibition. We urge you to explore our collections and look afresh at the content and design.
Between 1916 when British Vogue was launched and the mid 1950’s, Vogue covers were predominantly colour illustrated. Many illustrators became well known through their association with the magazine. The fashion illustrations of Eduardo Benito Garcia, René Bouët-Willaumez, René Robert Bouché, Dagmar Freuchen-Gale and Carl Erickson, known commonly as Eric, contributed regularly throughout this period and gave the covers and pages of Vogue at this time an original and recognizable style.
The Library holds a fantastic collection of illustrated covers and they are a wonderful resource for fashion illustration, design, typography and editorial design. See also the Vogue online archive where you can view the entire Vogue cover collection.
If the key to Vogue’s enduring success is its unique ability to communicate up to the minute fashion and style, then it could equally be said that fashion photography is the foundation upon which that success has been built since Vogue’s earliest days.
Condé Nast, the publishing executive responsible for the establishment of British Vogue, recognised the potential of fashion photography to not only accurately portray fashion, but also to illustrate fashion’s place within a fashionable lifestyle. It is credited with being the first magazine to feature full colour photography and according to the May 1939 edition ‘the first underwater fashion photographs’. Early imported photographs often portrayed America’s social elite and were accompanied with brief captions of ‘who was wearing who’, but swiftly moved on to incorporate images of British glamour too.
These increasingly glamorous contexts became the catalyst that attracted some of the most prominent names of photography from the 20th century to work for Vogue, and who in turn then paved the way towards the creatively innovative approaches to fashion photography we see today. Ranging from war correspondence to the fantastically fictional, Vogue’s fashion photographers worked throughout the decades to achieve the British feel of fashion as well as its worldwide exportation.
They included Cecil Beaton, Vogue’s chief photographer who contributed numerous images over his five decades working for Vogue; the surrealist Horst P. Horst; and Lee Miller, protégé of Man Ray, war photographer and herself a Vogue model. Regularly featured in the 21st century Vogues are Mario Testino, who is credited in particular with pushing the boundaries of fashion portraiture; and Tim Walker, whose narrative style of fashion photography set within his signature fantasy worlds, has produced some of the finest examples of the genre.
For books in the Library on fashion photography, including the catalogue to this exhibition, see 779.9391 and for individual photographers see 770.69. In addition Vogue: the editor’s eye is at 391.023 MAC.
There is a small exhibition in the Library this week of Vogue magazines and related material. Do pop by and take a look!
Vogue 100 continues at the National Portrait Gallery until 22 May 2016.
Harriet Harvey, Charlotte Mace and Catherine Polley