What did British Vogue ever do for us

As you will no doubt know by now, this year marks 100 years of Britain’s most prestigious style authority, Vogue.

The Vogue 100 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery was one of this year’s must-visit exhibitions documenting the glossy magazine through war and social revolution, through trends and fashion weeks, through the rise of the celebrity and the rise of the internet. But what has Vogue really done for us?

Is it merely a snapshot of fashion in time or has it pushed fashion forward and been an integral part of Britain’s creative scene?

Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair explores some of the facts you might not know about British Vogue…

  • The British edition of Vogue was launched during WWI as imports became scarce, including copies of Vogue which had previously always been shipped in from America.
  • With the launch of British Vogue, Condé Nast became the first publishers to launch international editions of a magazine.
  • Many noted literary authors also wrote articles for Vogue including Virginia Woolf, Evelyn Waugh and Aldous Huxley.
  • Lee Miller, Vogue’s infamous WWII reporter, was the only accredited female photojournalist to cover the frontline in Europe and was the first on the scene when Hitler’s alpine retreat went up in flames.
  • It was afforded extra paper rationing during WWII, as it was considered a crucial publication for keeping spirits high during this dark period.
  • British Vogue was the first edition of Vogue to feature a black model, Donyale Luna, on its cover in March 1966.

Some of its most progressive editorial commissions include:

Cecil Beaton’s ‘Fashion Is Indestructible’ which captured impeccably dressed women amongst the ruin and rubble of wartime bombed Middle Temple in 1941. The images represented fashion’s importance as a defiant act during the war and a way to boost morale.

Frank Horvat’s 1960 image taken of a fashion model amidst local schoolchildren in Bradford. It was created in an effort to promote the northern city as a centre for the wool industry.

Ronald Traeger’s photos of Twiggy on a moped, wearing her own label dresses in Battersea Park in 1967. The photo epitomised youth rebellion, female empowerment and London as the coolest city in the world at that time.

Norman Parkinson’s Soviet Union shoot with Jerry Hall, styled by Grace Coddington, in which she was photographed on a plinth in the red sea in a swimming costume and in Red Square. It was one of the first fashion shoots to take place behind the iron curtain and helped launch Jerry Hall’s modelling career in both America and the UK.

Peter Lindbergh’s 1990 cover photo of Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, and Tatjana Patitz. This image immortalised the ‘supers’ and went on to define the decade in fashion.

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