Fig. 2 (1892) The 10 Most Groundbreaking Covers in the History of Vogue [ONLINE] Available at: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/vogue-magazine-list-10-most-groundbreaking-covers-in-the-history-of-vogue/?_r=0 [accessed 10 Nov 2014]
Extract from a thesis written by Sofia Arvanius for her final year studying for a BA in Visual Communication titled How has the image of women changed over time in the fashion magazine industry in America, looking specifically at the covers of the US magazine, Vogue, between the years of its first publication in 1892 until the present day?
Jeff Oloizia, in ‘The 10 Most Groundbreaking Covers in the History of Vogue’, explains the changes that have taken place on the covers of Vogue over the more than 120 years that the magazine has been in publication in America. It features an image of the first cover from 1892, which can be seen in figure 2 (Oloizia, 2014). Like figure 1, the cover is far from what we would expect of a magazine cover nowadays. There are no air brushed models on the front cover. There are no bright colours, no eye-catching type or no glossy finish to the cover. The woman in the center is dressed in a long dress covering her arms, but quite low over the chest region. She seems to be picking flowers in a garden. She is posed in such a way that she is looking out towards the viewer with a closed mouth smile. The two women towards the top of the cover on either side of the title are leisurely relaxing; one is looking at herself in a mirror and the other reading what looks like a newspaper. The imagery is very classical in the poses.
The image of the woman that appears from this cover suggests that women were quite happy to spend their days relaxing in an idealized world of flowers and beauty which is similar to the image that is portrayed in the first image, in fig. 1, of the first cover of Harper’s Bazaar. These women appear idealized. The woman in the center is fashionably dressed for the time, but the other two look like they are from a classical muse. According to Appell in her article ‘The Influence of Society’s Ideals on Victorian Relationships’, women at this time were expected to stay at home taking care of their husbands and children. They were rarely educated and it was unusual for a woman to seek employment unless they were forced to do so by poverty. The publisher Arthur Baldwin Turnure says that the aim of the cover was to attract ‘the sage as well as the debutante, men of affairs as well as the belle’. (Appell, 2006) This is different to the aim of women as a target market, which Vogue is now known for. The image of the woman here is a man’s classicised impression of how a woman of that period spends her time. This idealized world of the woman would be an unusual lifestyle at that time but was a common feature on the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar at this time. (Appell, 2006) (Oloizia, 2014)
Appell, F. Victorian Ideals: The Influence of Society’s Ideals on Victorian Relationships. (2006) Available: http://www.mckendree.edu/academics/scholars/issue18/appell.htm. Last accessed 10 Nov 2014.
Oloizia, J. (2014). The 10 Most Groundbreaking Covers in the History of Vogue. Available: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/vogue-magazine-list-10-most-groundbreaking-covers-in-the-history-of-vogue/?_r=0. Last accessed 10 Nov 2014.