Vogue Cover Featuring Emma Stone, July 2012

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Fig. 16, Fleming, O, (2012), Who needs Victoria’s Secret? Kate Upton lands profile in Vogue after snub from lingerie giant (and there’s not a bikini in sight) [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2166508/Kate-Upton-lands-profile-Vogue-snub-lingerie-giant-theres-bikini-sight.html [Accessed 23 March 15].

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?

In figure 16 we see actress and comedienne Emma Stone on the cover of Vogue at a high point of her career. Heller wrote in her article ‘Emma Stone Makes Her Vogue Cover Debut in the July Issueabout how at the time of the cover, July 2012, the successful blockbuster The Amazing Spider-man was released that same month. Stone played the romantic lead in the 3D adaption of the Marvel comic movie that cost around $220 million to make and also appeared in movies such as The Help (2011), Superbad (2007) and Gangster Squad (2013) as well as doing comedy roles. As an A-lister in New York City, it is clear that Stone is successful in her chosen line of work. (Heller, 2012)

This is not an uncommon type of cover appearing on shop shelves in today’s world. The background is faded out. A beautiful woman is placed in the centre suggesting an alluring and provocative nature. Titles of articles and references to topics discussed in the issue are scattered over the cover image to either side of the centre figure, attempting to entice the reader into buying the magazine. On her cover of Vogue, we see Stone as a blonde instead of her usual head of red hair, a reference to her role as Gwen Stacy in the Spider-man sequel. We are given a glimpse of the lace and silk lingerie she is clad in, with a neutral beige jumper covering up some of her arms and legs. The cover in fig. 16 represents the new era of sexualising women which has not been seen in the same way in other magazine covers that I have examined in this thesis and shows a new direction taken by the producers of magazine covers in recent years. It is interesting that the image of the woman that comes across is one of a person who has succeeded in doing more than the majority of women could ever dream of, but when appearing on the cover of Vogue, Stone is sexualised, shown in a way that most people would never otherwise see her, rather than being celebrated for all the amazing achievements she has accomplished. On the other hand, perhaps Vogue is attempting to say that Emma Stone can do it all. She can obtain all the success of Hollywood, but she can also be seductively feminine. Perhaps the lingerie element of the photograph is a reference to her role in The Amazing Spider-man, but the habit of over-sexualising women has become ever more prevalent in recent years. It suggests that a woman’s achievements are secondary to whether she can look sexy or not in a photograph. (Heller, 2012)

The image of the seductive, sexualised image of the woman that appears frequently on the covers of fashion magazines including Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar (example fig. 16) has been criticised over the last couple of decades. HealthyTimes blog posted an article titled ‘Are Magazine Covers Eating into Your Self-Esteem?’ which looks at the reactions women have towards these types of covers. According to this article, 75 women reported feeling terrible after going through a woman’s magazine. One woman said that this was due to “being faced with pictures, articles or advertisements that points out a woman’s inadequacies.” (HealthyTimes blog, 2011) This is not an uncommon reaction from women to the images that appear on magazine covers. A hospital in Boston reported in the article ‘How Do Magazines Affect Body Image’ that when teenage girls compare their bodies with the images that are produced on magazine covers, they often feel depressed about the way they look. (Hospital Boston, 2014) Perhaps the perfected images of women on the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar published in order to allow its audience to dream about a perfected life, similar to the covers in fig. 6 and fig. 10. However, even though there seems to be a negative reaction to the numerous provocative images of women on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and other fashion magazines nowadays, it is not preventing women from buying the magazines since Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar are both still leaders of the fashion magazine industry. (HealthyTimes blog, 2011) (Hospital Boston, 2014)

HealthyTimes blog. (2011). Are Magazine Covers Eating Into Your Self-Esteem?. Available: http://www.healthytimesblog.com/2011/05/are-magazine-covers-eating-into-your-self-esteem/. Last accessed 21 April 2015.

Heller, N. (2012). Emma Stone Makes Her Vogue Cover Debut in the July Issue. Available: http://www.vogue.com/865338/emma-stone-comic-relief/. Last accessed 23 March 2015

Hospital Boston. (2014). How Do Magazines Affect Body Image. Available: http://www.education.com/reference/article/how-magazines-affect-body-image/. Last accessed 21 April 2015.

Harper’s Bazaar Cover Featuring Kate Moss, July 1993

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Cooper, A. (2014). Top 10 Vogue Covers of All Time; 9. Helmut Berger and Marisa Berenson, July 1970. Available: http://www.therichest.com/expensive-lifestyle/top-10-vogue-covers-of-all-time/2/. Last accessed 20 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?

Fig. 14, Blake, M, (1993), Throwback Thursday: Kate Moss in Harper’s Bazaar, July 1993 [ONLINE]. Available at: https://pointytoeshoecrew.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/throwback-thursday-kate-moss-in-harpers-bazaar-july-1993 [Accessed 23 March 15].

Fig. 15, Blake, M, (1993), Throwback Thursday: Kate Moss in Harper’s Bazaar, July 1993 [ONLINE]. Available at: https://pointytoeshoecrew.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/throwback-thursday-kate-moss-in-harpers-bazaar-july-1993 [Accessed 23 March 15].

According to Madison Blake in her article “Throwback Thursday: Kate Moss in Harper’s Bazaar” the supermodel featured on the cover of the magazine in July 1993, which can be seen in figure 13. The editorial was produced under editor Liz Tilberis and shot by Patrick Demarchelier, titled Body of Evidence. Kate Moss was still in the early stages of her career as a model at the age of 19 years old. During the 1990s there was a lot of controversy to do with the BMI (body mass index) of models. This cover caused further debate to do with anorexia versus a healthy slender body shape, but also over Moss’s unconcerned attitude towards her cocaine habit which she claimed didn’t affect her work. Kate Moss is clothed in a very simple beige jumper, perhaps intentionally bringing the viewers’ attention towards her skinny look. Her head is leaning slightly to the left, highlighting her collar and cheek bones. To her left we see that there is an article in this issue of Harper’s Bazaar titled ‘New Debate: Anorexic Versus Waif’, showing that this was a topic for discussion in this magazine. The issue also includes a photo shoot with Kate Moss which further highlights her angular body type, examples of which can be seen in fig. 14 and fig. 15. The photoshoot is done in black and white, perhaps to give it a serious tone, and features awkward poses that are designed to focus the viewer’s attention on the lanky body shape. It is an interesting image of the woman that appears from this cover. The woman has become more focused on how she appears on the outside rather than her own health. Throughout the 1990s, it has fashionable for models to have an androgynous look which was achieved through dieting extremes. During the 1990s, grunge was a recurring trend. The article ‘Fashion Trend: 1990s’ recounts how the movement developed from the underground in the 1980s as a response to capitalism and hard financial times. Fashion designers began to take notice of this emerging direction which in turn influenced the magazine industry. The cover in fig. 13 is a response to the grunge trend which is a reflection of society of the time. (Fashion Magazine, 2013) On this cover, however, Kate Moss appears frail, which is a step away from the powerful, independent woman seeking her own freedom which we saw often on covers from the 1920s right through to the 1970s, discussed in chapter 2. (Blake, 2014) 

Blake, M. (2014). Throwback Thursday: Kate Moss in Harper’s Bazaar, July 1993. Available: https://pointytoeshoecrew.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/throwback-thursday-kate-moss-in-harpers-bazaar-july-1993/. Last accessed 23 March 2015

Vogue July 1970

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Fig 12. (1970), ‘Top 10 Vogue Covers of All Time; 9. Helmut Berger and Marisa Berenson, July 1970’, 2014, http://www.therichest.com/expensive-lifestyle/top-10-vogue-covers-of-all-time/2/ [accessed 29 March 2015]

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?

Figure 12 features a relatively normal looking magazine cover by today’s standards but it too was a ground breaking cover. Allison Cooper wrote about the cover in her article titled ‘Top Ten Vogue Covers of All Time’. Published in July of 1970, the lady is attired in the styles of the 1970’s. The man is dressed in a suit. Other than their clothes, there are no hints in the background or elsewhere to suggest anything other than that we should be focusing on these two people. David Bailey photographed the cover. Photography had become a regular medium for imagery in Vogue magazine in the last thirty years. Up until this issue, however, the magazine had essentially had a female target market for the majority of its lifespan, excluding its early years in the late 19th century. This particular cover is momentous because it is the first ever Vogue magazine to publish a photograph of a man on its cover. The actors Helmut Berger and Marisa Berenson are photographed alongside each other, both staring straight out at the viewer as if to ask the question; well, what do you think of this than? This opened the door for many other men to be featured on the cover of Vogue such as Elton John and, controversially, Kanye West. (Cooper, 2014)

It is interesting that as the woman is getting more rights and freedom in her personal life in the 1960s and 1970s, and it is now that she is portrayed with a man along her side. Without previous knowledge of how the image of the woman has been shown on Vogue covers, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that the magazine cover is suggesting that a woman needs a man. However, when looking at the bigger picture involving American society at the time, as well as the history of the image of the woman on magazine covers, the image in fig. 12 has transcended the fear of showing the woman as dependent. The only reason for the man being next to the woman is because she wants him there.

Cooper, A. (2014). Top 10 Vogue Covers of All Time; 9. Helmut Berger and Marisa Berenson, July 1970. Available: http://www.therichest.com/expensive-lifestyle/top-10-vogue-covers-of-all-time/2/. Last accessed 20 Nov 2014.

Harper’s Bazaar, May 1961

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Fig 11. (1961) ‘The 10 Most Groundbreaking Covers in the History of Vogue’, 2014, http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/vogue-magazine-list-10-most-groundbreaking-covers-in-the-history-of-vogue/?_r=0 [accessed 29 March 2015]

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?

According to Oloizia we see a different style of magazine cover in figure 11. (Oloizia, 2014) Released in May 1961, parts of Sophia Loren’s face is scattered over the cover, suggesting that the public would be able to recognize her by her lips and eyes alone. This cover is similar to fig. 10 in its abstract, modernist influence. This is another major Vogue cover as it features one of the first ever celebrities to grace the cover of Vogue. This is a major milestone as it paves the way for magazines as we know them today. Furthermore it is an evolution of the Vogue cover in fig. 6 where Toto Koopman appears as the first ever cover girl. The image of the woman here stays far away from floral motifs and expensive clothing, where women spend their days following leisurely pursuits. This cover is bold and adventurous, and we assume that the woman, Sophia Loren, also embodies these personality traits since all we have to do is look at her lips or eyes separately in order to be able to identify this famous celebrity. Again, Vogue is appealing to the fact that most people yearn for more than what they have in their lives. The cover in fig. 11 shows the bold and adventurous life of a celebrity, not the common public who purchase the Vogue magazine. Their readers are still given the opportunity to dream about a different life; the fun and crazy, adventurous life of a celebrity where an individual can be recognised by her eyes and lips alone. (Oloizia, 2014)

Oloizia, J. (2014). The 10 Most Groundbreaking Covers in the History of Vogue. Available: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/21/voguemagazine-list-10-most-groundbreaking-covers-in-the-history-of-vogue/?_r=0. Last accessed 10 Nov 2014.

Harper’s Bazaar Cover Designed by Brodovitch, July 1946

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Fig. 9, Dye, D, (1946), Harper’s Bazaar Cover, July 1946 [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/112308584431577225/ [Accessed 17 March 15].

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?

In Figure 9 we can see one of the experimental cover designs created under the art direction of Alexey Brodovitch. It is the cover of Harper’s Bazaar from July 1946. According to Kerry Williams Purcell, Brodovitch was a designer, photographer and teacher who worked as an art director for Harper’s Bazaar magazine for 15 years between the 1940s and the 1960s. (Purcell. 2014) He contributed to much of the content in the magazine bringing together graceful typographic layouts with experimental design trends in photography. His style became widely popular in the 1940s and 1950s. Purcell talks about how he was one of the leading designers in America to bring ideas from modernism into his work as can be seen in fig. 9. (Purcell, 2014) (Gallagher, 2007)

On the cover of the magazine in fig. 9 we simply see a hand reaching out for two butterflies. This is moving away from the tradition of featuring an image of a woman, illustrated or photographed, on the front of the magazine to a new era of experimental cover design. The cover nevertheless suggests an interesting concept of the woman. The year is 1946 and World War II ended the previous year. According to Universe of Symbolism the butterfly symbolises transcendence and the journey to freedom, as a butterfly needs to leave everything it knows as a caterpillar behind in order to become itself. (Universe of Symbolism, 2015) The Library of Congress writes in their article ‘The Post War United States, 1945-1968’ about how almost every aspect of life changed for the people of America during the Second World War. Post World War II, the American economy prospered, but not everyone reaped the benefits equally. American women, along with Hispanic and African Americans, became more aggressive in pursuing their right to full freedoms and equal civil rights as the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution guaranteed. It is unclear however whether the cover in fig. 9 is suggesting a woman reaching out for freedom or if we are seeing freedom slip away from her. This is probably an intentionally ambiguous statement as no one can be sure of what will happen in the future. Furthermore, women from different backgrounds and class in society would have gained different amounts of freedom. (Library of Congress, 2012)  (Gallagher, 2007)

Gallagher, J. G.. (2007). Alexey Brodovitch: 1934-1958. Available: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a94/bazaar-140-0607/. Last accessed 19 March 2015.

Library of Congress. (2012). The Postwar United States, 1945-1968. Available: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/postwar/. Last accessed 17 March 2015

Purcell, K.W. (2011). Alexey Brodovitch. Available: http://www.iconofgraphics.com/alexey-brodovitch/. Last accessed 25 Feb 2015.

Purcell, K.W. (2011). Alexey Brodovitch. America: Phaidon Press. 272.

Vogue Cover 1939: A Case of Slacks

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Fig 7. (1939), Women in Trousers research update: Vogue and ‘The Case for Slacks’, Available at: http://cardiffbookhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/women-in-trousers-1/http://cardiffbookhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/women-in-trousers-1/ [accessed 05 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?

Becky Munford wrote an article ‘Women in Trousers research update: Vogue and ‘The Case for Slacks’ on her website about the controversy that ensued after the topic of whether women would start wearing pants on a daily bases was brought up in 1933 with several newspapers writing articles giving their opinions. Although women had appeared in magazines in trousers before, in equestrian and skiing issues, and illustrated versions, it wasn’t until 1939 that photographed images of women in trousers were seen in the American and British versions of Vogue such as the magazine cover in fig. 7. In the American copy of Vogue released in April 1939, an article is included advising that trousers were an essential item of clothing for stylish women. Vogue stated that it had become acceptable to wear trousers at any hour. The article recommends that women wear trousers at golfing events, beaches and small boats, but reminds its readers that women in trousers are still restricted to the sports deck on ocean liners.  While women still don’t have complete social freedom, the way a woman is allowed by society to appear physically is changing. (Munford, 2012) Catalano wrote in volume 3 of ‘Shaping the American Woman: Feminism and Advertising in the 1950s’ about how women were expected to keep businesses going during the Second World War. (Catalano, 2002, p45) Most women had no choice but to earn an income as well as keep their households going. The new acceptance of the image of the woman in pants is a reflection of this new lifestyle and new attitude in American society. 

Catalano, Christina (2002) “Shaping the American Woman: Feminism and Advertising in the 1950s,” Constructing the Past: Vol. 3: Iss. 1, Article 6. Available at: http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/constructing/vol3/iss1/6http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/constructing/vol3/iss1/6http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/constructing/vol3/iss1/6

Munford, B. (2012). Women in Trousers research update: Vogue and ‘The Case for Slacks’. Available: http://cardiffbookhistory.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/women-in-trousers-1/. Last accessed 05 Nov 2014.

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.

Vogue Cover March 1912

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Fig. 3 (1912) US Vogue Cover Archive. [online] Available at http://forums.thefashionspot.com/f78/us-vogue-cover-archive-56486.htmlhttp://forums.thefashionspot.com/f78/us-vogue-cover-archive-56486.html [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?

The image in figure 3 is typical of a Vogue cover of the 1910’s – 1920’s. At this time the magazines were exclusively illustrated rather than photographed, with covers differing in illustration styles. The woman in fig. 3 is draped in an elegant outer cloak with rich colours and fur. Flowers accompanying a woman are common imagery on magazine covers around this time and can be seen in fig. 3. Women and flowers were often juxtaposed to each other due to the thinking of the time that women were supposed to be like flowers; delicate and pretty. The furnishings around the woman appear expensive. The lady is seated on a coach leisurely reading an issue of Vogue. Overall we get the impression of a woman who enjoys the finer things in life; fur, beautiful clothing, expensive furnishing and, of course, Vogue. Vogue is giving an impression of their consumers. Women who read Vogue live privileged lives of luxury. Even the many who were unable to afford this type of lifestyle of luxury can, through this image, fantasize about this dream lifestyle. They may not be able to afford the beautiful furnishings and clothing adorned on the cover, but they can afford Vogue!

Vogue. (2014). From the Archives: Vogue Looks Back at 120 Years of Covers. Available: http://www.vogue.com/869450/from-the-archives-vogue-looks-back-at-120-years-of-covers/. Last accessed 20 Nov 2014.

Vogue. (2014). Vogue Archive. Available: http://www.vogue.com/archive. Last accessed 20 Nov 2014.

First Cover of Vogue, 1892

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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.

First Cover of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine

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Fig. 1, Carla Rioux, (2014), Magazine First Cover Harper’s Bazaar – 1867 [ONLINE]. Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/8936899233948158/ [Accessed 25 February 15].

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?

According to its website, Harper’s Bazaar is the oldest, continuously published fashion magazine in the world. (Bazaar, 2006) First published in 1867, it celebrated its 140th birthday in 2007. It was initially set up by Mary Louise Booth as an illustrated journal which was produced weekly and talked about fashion, gardening, the world of art, polite etiquette and other domestic wonders, with the first ever issue being dedicated to fashion and literature. Booth sought to publish a journal that was to act as ‘a repository of fashion, pleasure and instruction’ as the Harper’s Bazaar tagline read. Ali Basye wrote in his article ‘The Stories Behind the Styles’ about how Harper’s Bazaar arrived on the newspaper stands quietly without fuss and was sent out in the mailboxes of select ladies of society. In those early years, the magazine featured many different styles of the logo with a slightly shorter spelling of the name; Harper’s Bazaar. In the first few decades of its existence, the journal wrote about everything from avant-garde fashions to running a country home, where to get the best gowns, the social season and how to behave, and the art of facial expressions. As a magazine targeting women and writing about popular cultures of the time, it offers insight into the values and the role of women of that time. (Bazaar, 2006) (Basye, 2010)

In figure 1 (fig.1), we see the first cover produced by the magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, published on Saturday, 2nd November, 1867 in New York. It was printed with black ink on white paper, as printing technologies at that time did not yet allow for coloured printing. The cover is broken up into three sections; the top, where the logo is situated, the middle where a series of head decorations are shown, and the bottom of the cover, where two women are dressed in long flowing wedding dresses. The magazine is clearly targeting a female audience, with its illustration of bonnets and wedding dresses, as described on the cover. Furthermore, under the heavily decorated logo we see the Harper’s Bazaar tagline ‘a repository of fashion, pleasure and instruction’. This tag-line hints at what was considered to be entertaining for woman of this time; housekeeping and domestic tasks, gardening, sowing, being presented with good etiquette, looking well and social status.

According to a Cliff Notes article, ‘Changes in American Society’, the legal role of women in society in America in the 1860’s was largely the same as it had been in the colonial period. Women were still expected by society to stay at home and create a clean and nurturing environment, while men went out to work, brought in an income and dealt with the outside world. (Notes, 2014)

The women in the middle of the magazine cover are presented wearing various types of hats as part of the ‘Fall bonnets’ trend. The bonnets are decorated with lace, floral details and decorative bows. This magazine is clearly targeting middle and upper-class women who would have been the type of people who were able to afford magazines at the time since less well-off women of the 1860’s would not have the disposable income to spend on magazines. The two women towards the bottom of the cover are gracefully posed to show off their wedding dresses which have the long sleeves and high neckline fashionable at the time. According to the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Massachusetts, the practice of a white wedding dress would not become standard until the late 19th century. Overall we are given an image of a middle- to upper-class woman whose place in society is within her household. The image of the woman portrayed here has a sweet and elegant persona who enjoys leisurely pursuits such as gardening and household tasks, as well as being up-to-date on the latest fashions. (Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, 1999)

 

Basye, A. (2010). Hang Onto Your Pearls: The Little Black Dress is Born. Available: http://onthisdayinfashion.com/?p=6210. Last accessed 10 Nov 2014.
Cliffs Notes, (2014). Changes in American Society . Available: http://www.cliffsnotes.com/more-subjects/history/us-history-i/economic-growth-and-development-18151860/changes-in-american-society. Last accessed 25 Feb 2015.
Harper’s Bazaar Staff. (2006). The First 30 Years: 1867-97. Available: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a9517/bazaar-140-0107/. Last accessed 25 Feb 2015.
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Massachusetts. (1999). Wedding Dress. Available: http://www.memorialhall.mass.edu/collection/itempage.jsp?itemid=15807. Last accessed 25 Feb 2015.