Vogue: A Brief History

British VOGUE logo

Vogue is the best selling and most influential fashion magazine in the world, with copies selling in America, England, France, Italy and all over the world. The publication has an advanced and deep history- having lived through both World Wars, the industrial revolution and The Great Depression- always keeping fashion in mind.

Vogue was founded in 1892 by Arthur Turnure, an American, with the dream of making a weekly newspaper, but Vogue was never going to be an ordinary newspaper. Turnure wanted to devote the newspaper to the “ceremonial side of life” with a target audience of New Yorkers, particularly those of an aristocratic persona. As it is now, Vogue is primarily considered a “women’s fashion magazine” but when it was first published it also covered sport in order to engage a male readership.

Issue 1 of Vogue was published on December 17th 1892 and retailed for 10 cents which equates to £1.86 in modern British pounds. In 2016 Vogue now costs £4 in the UK.

In 1905, American magazine publisher, Conde Montrose Nast bought Vogue from Turnure a year before his death. This takeover led to Vogue becoming a bi-weekly publication  as well as going overseas 5 years later. Britain, Spain, Italy and France were among the first other countries publishing Vogue.

Twiggy on the cover of Vogue. April 1967

By the 1920’s Vogue was a hugely successful and influential publication. It is even said to
have been one of the causes for the decline in fashion illustration by the late 30’s. All of the original covers of the publication featured images created by the likes of Helen Dryden and George Wolfe Plank, however by the 1930’s Vogue began to use photographs for their covers. 

As Vogue advanced further with the world around it, the magazine’s
readership demographic began to change. In the 1960’s it began to focus on the interests of the younger generation and the sexual revolution by discussing contemporary fa
shion and sexuality more openly. Diana Vreeland, editor in chief of Vogue, began to feature models such as Twiggy, Penelope Tree and Suzy Parker on its covers making them household names across the world.

By 1973 Vogue became a monthly publication- as it is today- while Grace Mirabella was editor-in-chief. Although this was a huge change that has maintained the same until this day, the years of Mirabella were considered the beige years.

Not a lot changed between the 70’s and 80’s until 1988 when the infamous Anna Wintour (ex editor-in-chief of British Vogue) took over the role of editor-in-chief of American Vogue.  Wintour’s aim was to make fashion accessible for everyone and appeal to a wider audience and to bring the magazine back up from where Mirabella had left. Wintour was well known for her ability to rise a failing publication out of the ashes and there was no doubt when she took over things would change- and they did.

Anna Wintour

Since Anna Wintour’s takeover- Vogue has seen it’s first male cover, Richard Gere in 1992. Since then there has been 5 other men to feature on the cover; George Clooney, LeBron James, Ryan Lochte, Kanye West and Ben Stiller.

The magazine has also seen a further technical advancement with its collaboration with Google Glass in 2013, as well as being the inspiration for the top selling novel and film, The Devil Wears Prada.


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