2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of British Vogue. An American imported magazine; publisher Condé Nast created the paper to ensure that British readers could enjoy the fashion, society and beauty advice that previously could only be found in the American version. Once British Vogue had control over its content, it transformed the paper into the fashion juggernaut it is today. The institute stands as a pillar of 20th Century British fashion; a survivor of two world wars, numerous economic crashes and every fashion fad in between.
To celebrate, the paper curated the Vogue 100 exhibition, whilst initially shown at The National Portrait Gallery, the exhibition has since been transferred to Manchester Art Gallery from June 24th – October 30th and entry is free. Alongside the exhibition, there was a special centenary edition in June with the Duchess of Cambridge on the cover, and a BBC documentary titled Absolutely Fashion—admittedly, the documentary doesn’t represent Vogue at its finest.
On the top floor of Manchester Art Gallery you can explore the history of Vogue, travelling through the decades: one is free to explore Cecil Beaton’s defining images of the 1920s and 1930s; David Bailey’s representation of the swinging sixties; Patrick Demarchelier’s intimate depiction of Cindy, Naomi and Claudia—the original supermodels; plus portraits of some of the greatest designers of the 20th Century. The exhibition guides you through the journey the magazine has taken, alongside popular cultures.
The images included in A Century of Style highlight the legacy Vogue wishes to leave. It wants to be seen as forward thinking, an institute that helped to define the time it existed in, rather than be defined by time. The exhibition does not address Vogues controversial under-representation of black models or its frequent inclusion of underweight models.
Frequent attention is given to Britain’s most famous face in fashion—Kate Moss. The London girl who, discovered aged 14, has defined British Vogue under current editor Alexandra Shulman is given the prominence she deserves. It cannot be denied that she has an exquisite face from every angle.
If you fancy a break from the autumn rain, busy streets, or piles of work being handed out, I cannot recommend Vogue 100: A Century of Style enough. If nothing else there are some truly beautiful photographs to be admired.