Originally published in qmunicate
When I picked up my first ever issue of British Vogue aged thirteen, I was completely enthralled; a whole new world of fashion weeks, exquisite clothes, and glittering personalities immediately opened up to me, a sparkling London life of culture and fashion that was otherwise impossible to access. I remember endlessly flicking through the glossy pages – picking out the most desirable clothes and accessories with my best friend, imagining ourselves right in the middle of this exciting world.
Now that eight years have passed, my view is no longer as romanticised: the fashion industry, despite its beauty, is undoubtedly problematic and Vogue in particular is characterised by an elitism that occasionally appears within its pages. But it’s difficult to deny its continual ability to captivate and charm its loyal readership: in a world of dwindling print journalism, the magazine is still immensely popular, a name that everyone recognises as a bulwark of fashion; a celebrated institution of the British industry. Its business has spawned books of celebrated Vogue covers, fashion photography, an annual festival and, lately, fashion courses; its contribution to the history of art and photography is immense, having launched and boosted the careers of David Bailey, Kate Moss, Mario Testino and Cecil Beaton amongst many others, with contributing writers as influential as Virginia Woolf and Aldous Huxley.
All the more impressive considering that, this year, Vogue is celebrating its centenary: a considerable achievement and one which emphasises the magazine’s genuine contribution to fashion history, with its steady documentation of fashion through the radical changes of the twentieth century and beyond. Its commercial emphasis upon advertising, more than any other iteration of Vogue, is one that deftly combines the glamour of fashion photography with sales revenue, an emphasis that, oddly enough, appears to appeal to its audience, defined by its publisher Conde Nast as comprising stylish, influential and luxurious consumers. It’s a testament to the persistent pull of fashion and culture, and the continued importance of print journalism – a message of hope to all those who bewail its apparent decline. Because why scroll through a website when you can pore over the slick pages of Vogue like a hundred years’ worth of excited readers before you?