Thursday, November 19, 2009

The History of the Fashion Magazine

Sonia Delaunay drawing, 1937

•The first notion of fashion illustrated began with the courts of aristocracy recording information about what they were wearing. In the late 1600's and 1700’s, French women and dressmakers outside of the court relied on sketches to see what was being worn. The sketches were compiled in books that were reproduced and sold, most notably the Mercure Galant.
•By the 1780’s, the French court has a number of journals circulating, some for the masses such as Cabinet des Modes.
1856, Flaubert writes that Madame Bovary has a consistent fascination for fashion magazines. These appear to have been illustrated journals of custom clothing to order.
1867, Harper’s Bazaar begins in the US, providing illustrations of European designers such as Charles Frederick Worth.
1874, poet Mallame produces “La Derniere Mode,” a fictional art work/fashion magazine.
1892, Arthur Baldwin Turnure founds Vogue in the US, to provide both illustrations and patterns.
1900, fashion magazines begin to feature photography.
1909, Condé Nast purchases Vogue.
1912-1925, La Gazette du Bon Ton below, is the leading French fashion magazine by subscription only, for 100 a francs a year. It has exclusive illustrations (Cheruit, Doeuillet, Doucet, Paquin, Poiret, Redfern, and Worth). The magazine also aimed to establish fashion as an art alongside painting, sculpture, and drawing. According to the magazine's first editorial, "The clothing of a woman is a pleasure for the eye that cannot be judged inferior to the other arts.”

1916, Nast creates Vogue UK and Paris editions.
1920’s, American fashion magazines expand content to feature journalism articles about women’s suffrage and socialites.
1922, 30th anniversary of Vogue, French designer Paul Poiret writes that Vogue "is today one of the best methods of communication with a distinguished clientele."
1930’s, GQ and Esquire begin covering men's fashion.
1940’s, American fashion magazines feature articles about working women fashion.
1959, Condé Nast is sold to S. I. Newhouse who builds the magazine empire around fashion & lifestyle.
1960’s, enhancements in color printing reduce cost and improve both quantity and quality of magazines available.
1970’s, couture houses increase licensing and brand diversification, increasing the overall advertising load to include accessories and perfumes.
1980’s, fashion media such as cable television begin to compete with magazines.
1991, Visionaire, the American fashion-art collaborative begins, followed by V Magazine in 1999.
2000, is launched along with other online fashion sites.
2009, Condé Nast closes nearly 10 titles (Jane, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Gourmet, Portfolio, Cookie, House and Garden, Domino and others)

See the covers
-First published in 1867 by Harper Brothers (also founded HarperCollins)
-Illustrated covers for first 50 years
-Important editorial and art direction team in the 1930’s-50’s with Diana Vreeland & Alexy Brodovitch
-The first magazine to launch Richard Avedon
-In 1970, it expanded to the UK & Australia
-2001, Stephen Gan of Visionaire/V appointed Cretive Director

Diana Vreeeland and her first column

Vreeland started simply with a column “Why Don’t You,” then eventually became editor. She claimed to have discovered Lauren Bacall, and she advised Jackie Kennedy in the White House years. She would later edit Vogue and then worked for the costume institute at the Met.

Vreeland pushed for the US launch of the bikini in Bazaar, 1945

Brodovitch below was a Russian photographer & designer who went first to Paris then the US. He is said to have had a double influence on photos and design and set the bar for art direction.

Brodovitch, July 1934 and August 1940

Brodovitch, 1938

Brodovitch with Avedon, 1958 & 59 

Harper's Bazaar, shot by Lagerfeld, 2009

The faces of Bazaar & Vogue, 1980's

See the covers
-Has been described as “the world’s most influential fashion magazine”
-Available in 16 countries
-Started bi-weekly and went monthly in 1973
-Diana Vreeland directed it from 1963-1971 (when she was fired!)
-Anna Wintour has been editor since 1988 (that’s 25 years!)
-Has resulted in spin offs such as Teen Vogue and Vogue Living
-Has been criticized for supporting celebrity culture over fashion integrity

1935 & 1934

February 14, 1960

John French for UK Vogue, 1964

Anna Wintour's first cover, November 1988

Indie fashion magazines in the 1990's
-More editorial and less advertising
-Timed with the collections, typically twice a year
-Often with hard covers that appear like books

VISIONAIRE, since 1991
The fashion and art collaborative creates thematic objects each season

Visionaire 29, Woman

Visionaire's Megazines exhibition, 2006

SELF SERVICE, since 1993
Self Service is a seminal Parisian style magazine published biannually. The publication was borne out of the 'Work in Progress' studio, a self styled 'visual laboratory of advertising design' founded in 1993 by Suzanne Kroller and Ezra Petronio. Kroller and Petronio subsequently launched Self Service magazine from this base as their platform for experimentation with magazine protocol; stage-managing the photography, styling, writing, graphics.

Self Service S 2009 and F 2009

PURPLE, since 1992

Separated as Purple Fashion in 2004, by Olivier Zahm

Noritoshi Hirakawa, 1999

Purple, F 2008

, since 2001
From the creators of Dazed & Confused, AnOther emphasizes luxury

Kate Moss in Galliano, F 2009 Uma Thurman S 2008

SHOWstudio, since 2000

An online fashion broadcasting site created by photographer Nick Knight, it emphasizes both fashion photography and fashion video.


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  2. Thank you for posting the history of the fashion magazine. I believe the adage "a picture speaks a thousand words" is true when viewing fashion images. Fashion speaks so much of history, popular culture, evolving art-forms and social trends - among other things.

    I find it very interesting to research history via fashion magazines. Your commentary is welcome at my blog.

  3. great history, thanks for sharing

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