Toto Koopman on Vogue, September 1933

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Fig 6. (1933), The 10 Most Groundbreaking Covers in the History of Vogue, (2014) 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 11 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?

When thinking of Vogue today, we might think of the shiny gloss covers showing perfected images of celebrities. It was in September 1933 that Vogue had its first known cover girl on the front of its magazine, which can be seen in figure 6. The model named Toto Koopman was bisexual and biracial. Her sexuality, however, was not known at the time of publication and so had no impact on society at the time of the covers release and doesn’t say anything about the image of the woman. Nowadays, the placing of models and celebrities on the front covers of magazines is routine for the magazine industry. Koopman is wonderfully posed with the red and black colour motif creating a romantic atmosphere. The 1930s has become known as the golden age for Hollywood images of desirability and sexual attractiveness. The cover in figure 6 is influenced by this trend which, according to Fogg (2013), occurred in America during the Depression when people wanted ways to escape their dreary lives through cinematography. Fashion photographs in Vogue and other fashion magazine began to look like film stills, with fantasy props and complex lighting. The magazine industry opened up the Hollywood look to a wide audience. The US ready-made clothes industry started producing mass amounts of the clothing’s shown. (Fogg, 2013)

This lady appears to lead a comfortable life, which is a recurring image of the woman on the covers examined. She is very well dressed in expensive clothing. In the image Koopman appears glamorous and proud. Women sought to read Vogue as a way to escape the hard times that American society was going through in the 1930’s with the Depression. The image of this woman on the front cover would lead the ordinary woman to day-dream about an alternative lifestyle, which is what Vogue wanted its readers to do. On this cover we are given a misleading impression of women at this time. People in America were having a tough time and needed liberation from the reality of their lives through magazines such as the one in figure 6.  (Oloizia, 2014)

Fogg, M (2013). Fashion: The Whole Story. London: Thames and Hudson. 111.

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.

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