“Every issue of Vogue is an inspiration to me,” – Oscar de le Renta.
This month perhaps the most iconic fashion magazine in the world, US Vogue, celebrates 120 years of style, stars, models and designers. US Vogue is using the highly respected platform of the September issue as a vehicle to celebrate these 120 years, years that have truly been an exciting time for the fashion industry and the fashion media alike.
What started off as a small gazette that cost 10 cents and held 35 pages is standing before us 120 years later as the bible to all things creative and elegant. Vogue celebrates its anniversary in this month’s issue by documenting the models, designers and editors that have brought the glossy pages of Vogue to life. They also explore “The Vogue 120,” a list of 120 bright young things that Vogue feel are currently profoundly influencing the world of fashion, art and media.
So with 120 years behind it, one might ask how exactly is it that Vogue has managed to last so long and amass such a giant readership? The answer is simple. Vogue has been empowering women through fashion for decades, often through times when they were not always appreciated or respected by mass media. Coco Channel once said, “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” From the Roaring Twenties to the Great Depression, from the Swinging Sixties to the present day, fashion has changed and continues to change immensely. Vogue, like a chameleon, alters itself along with it.
The cover of Vogue has always been hugely important in the world of fashion; this is a single page that can launch a trend or a designer. In November 1988, current editor Anna Wintour’s first issue with the magazine saw 19 year old model Michaela Bercu wearing a simple pair of jeans and a tee shirt. This laid back attitude to fashion rippled through the market. Vogue was now concentrating on addressing the “real woman,” an effect we can still see encapsulated in trends 25 years later.
Vogue was also one of the first magazines to truly recognize the public’s fascination and reaction to celebrity culture, and with Wintour’s insistence, celebrities have been featured on the covers and throughout the pages of Vogue. The editors of Vogue have often been called the most powerful women in fashion. With a legacy spanning 120 years, the magazine has seen a long line of women at the helm, but none have proved to be more powerful or have had such an effect on the industry as Diana Vreeland and Anna Wintour have.
Although both women directed the magazine in very different times, it is under their leadership that Vogue really began to make waves within the fashion sphere. Vreeland assisted in constructing the “psychedelic” image that took hold in the 1960’s, once claiming “Most people haven’t got a point of view; they need to have it given to them.” The appointment of the formidable Anna Wintour in 1988 saw Vogue once again undertake a drastic transformation in style, staff, and story, morphing the magazine into one that could be carried into the 21st century.
Looking back on the past 120 years, seeing the dramatic changes that have occurred in the landscape of the fashion industry and analyzing the role Vogue US has played in those changes, it can be safely said that women everywhere can look forward to another exciting “Vogue 120.”