It's probably one of the most famous magazines in the world, the one that sells most copies, the most influential and most criticized. When it was launched in the USA, in 1892, few people could forsee such success and such longevity for a magazine whose themes were fashion, daily life and design. Over a hundred years later, this magazine is now published in several languages and in such distant countries as India, Japan, Russia, Greece or China, still epitomizing luxury, style and social life. Vogue doesn't just influence fashion: it is fashion. All you have to do is look at its covers to see the entire 20th century mirrored in them, not necessarily the "real world", but its ideals, dreams, aspirations, illusions, delusions.
The covers from the British edition, launched in September 1916 are particularly well catalogued and are very expressive. At this time, everything was done with illustrations as a basis, beautiful drawings, that are very close to the vanguardist art of the time, with stylized lines, blots of solid colours, geometric and imaginative compositions coupled with healthy typography. The female figure - the modern woman - is a constant presence and is exhibited in elegant poses, in luxurious and exotic settings, next to cars and imponent transatlantics. Hats, cigarette holders, necklaces, scarves and other props surround her. It's the triumphant aesthetic of Art Déco taking over the arts, from architecture to typography.
The magazine follows this style for the next two decades. In 1932, however, in July's edition, there's a sign of change: the first photograph is featured, picturing a woman sitting, in a bathing suit and cap, holding a beach ball over her head. The editors, the female editors that is, might not have realized, at first, the potential of this way of artistic expression, because they continued to use illustrations. Only after 1940 did the use of photographs became widespread and started to prevail. Behind are over twenty years of beautiful drawings filled with charm and nostalgia, images of an era and a way of life that might never have existed.