Vogue magazine has influenced American society for over a hundred years. The magazine has evolved to reflect modern women. Vogue has gone through many changes and has created a market for women’s magazines. Originally, Vogue was more of a high society paper than a mass marketed magazine.
Vogue was founded in 1892 by Arthur Baldwin Turnure. Turnure’s original vision was to be a social gazette for New York’s elite. Turnure’s investors for Vogue included the Vanderbilts, A.M Dodge, William Jay, and Marion Stuyvesant Fish. Turnure hired a staff with a higher socialite status rather than a staff with literary talent. Socialite Josephine Redding was the magazine’s first editor. By all accounts, Redding seemed less worried about fashion and more passionate about animal rights.
Vogue was a weekly journal that aimed to appeal to only high society women and gentlemen. Originally men’s sports were chronicled in the magazine. Fashion was not the focus. Rather, the focus was the traditions of high society; fashion was only mentioned when talking about what was appropriate to wear to an occasion. Vogue had articles reviewing plays, books, music, and discussions of the societal etiquettes of the time. Two regular articles were called ‘As Seen by Him’ and ‘Of Interest to Her.”As Seen by Him’was particularly snobbish with articles like ‘A Word about the Treatment of Servants’. The staff also included ‘Society Snapshots’ which were features of their friends and socialite acquaintances.
Vogue was not focused on advertising sales and revenues were decreasing for its wealthy stockholders. This soon changed when Conde Nast bought Vogue in 1909. Conde Nast graduated from Georgetown where he became close friends with Robert Collier. Robert Collier soon inherited Collier’s Weekly from his father and gave Nast a job as an advertising manager. Under Nast’s management, Collier’s Weekly became first place in advertising revenue for magazines. His salary grew to forty thousand dollars a year at Collier’s Weekly. Nast then left the magazine to build the Home Pattern Company. Nast desired to expand his business into fashion news and set his sights on Vogue.
Conde Nast admitted that he was not creative but was an advertising and sales genius. He transformed Vogue’s advertising base. Because the magazine appealed to high society readers, he courted high-end advertisers who were willing to pay more for a wealthy audience. Nast made Vogue a completely women’s fashion magazine. He also pushed for the covers of Vogue to be done by the best illustrators and photographers. Thus, the covers of Vogue became notable and reflected the art movements of each decade of the twentieth century. With Nast’s previous experience with the Home Pattern Company, he expanded the pattern section in the magazine even though this caused controversy within the staff. Vogue patterns were very successful and gave all of the readers a chance to make their own fashionable pieces. Even women with higher incomes used the patterns. Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly acknowledged that she used the Vogue patterns for herself and her children.
Nast had a constant need to expand his company. In 1916, he established a separate British Vogue and later a French Vogue. Today Conde Nast publications owns many magazines such as Glamour, Allure, W, Self, GQ, Details, Elegant Bride, House and Garden, Domino, Lucky, Golf Digest, and The New Yorker, just to name a few. In addition, Vogue has versions in nine countries including Austrailia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Spain.
During the war and the Great Depression, high tariffs were imposed on imported French designs and many French designs were not being made because of the state of France after the war. America had always looked to France for the latest fashions and Vogue editors were worried about the effects of the lack of French fashion. The magazine started to look to American designers. At first, they were only a substitute for French designs. However, by WWII, American designers were seen as a separate category. Vogue began to dedicate much of the magazine to the runway fashions in New York. Edna Chase even started Vogue fashion shows. This lead to the growth of American designers and fashion houses.
Conde Nast died in 1942. Time Magazine said that, ‘for a generation he was the man from whom millions of American women got most of their ideas, directly or indirectly, about the desirable standard of living.’ The Conde Nast Corporation still lives on today.
Anna Wintour became Editor in Chief of Vogue in 1988. Anna Wintour expanded the magazine’s role to include charitable organizations to help in AIDS research and to benefit emerging American fashion designers. Within the magazine, Wintour encouraged reporting on cultural and political issues to reflect the concerns of a modern working woman. Wintour also began Teen Vogue in 2001 and Men’s Vogue in 2005. Currently Vogue has a circulation of about 1.3 million. It continues to validate new designers and trends more than any other fashion magazine. The issues of Vogue are like a history of women’s ideals and fashions since 1892.
-> from cis.uab.edu