Thursday, November 19, 2009

The History of the Fashion Magazine

Sonia Delaunay drawing, 1937

•In the late 1600’s and 1700’s, French women and dressmakers outside the court relied on sketches to see what was going on. The sketches were compiled in books that were reproduced and sold such as the Mercure Galant.
1780’s the late French court has a number of journals circulating, some for the masses such Cabinet des Modes
•In 1856 Flaubert writes that Madame Bovary has a regular fascination for fashion magazines. These appear to have been illustration journals of custom clothing.
1867, Harper’s Bazaar begins in the US providing illustrations of European designs such as Charles Frederick Worth.
•In 1874, poet Mallame produced “La Derniere Mode,” as a 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 is the leading French fashion magazine for 100 a francs a year by subscription only. 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 British and French Vogue
1920’s, American fashion magazines feature 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
1970’s, couture houses increase licensing and brand diversification, increasing the overall advertising load to include accessories and perfumes
1980’s, television programs emerge and compete with magazines
1991, Visionaire, the American fashion-art collaborative begins, followed by V Magazine in 1999
2000, is launched 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 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 21 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

The emergence of indie fashion magazines in the 1990's

More editorial and less advertising

Timed with the collections, about twice a year
Hard covers and 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

From the creators of Dazed & Confused, AnOther emphazises luxury

Kate Moss in Galliano, F 2009 Uma Thurman S 2008

SHOWstudi0, since 2000

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


  1. Khusboo magazine is a surat based women fashion magazine website which provides information about fashion tips and ladies Indian garments. This website is basically fashion and modeling website.

  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.


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