They Took Manhattan and then Fashion: The Dynamic Duo of Jean Shrimpton and David Bailey

They were barely known in their home country of England and were nobodies in New York. But when photographer David Bailey and model Jean Shrimpton arrived in Manhattan on a cold January day in 1962, Vogue editor Diana Vreeland greeted them like long-awaited celebrities. “But they are adorable,” Vreeland cried. “England. Has. Arrived.” Bailey was still new to the fashion world and 18-year-old Shrimpton, a recent graduate of the Lucie Clayton Modelling School was, she remembers, “as green as a spring salad.” The pair had met less than a year earlier and worked well together on a shoot for Brides. A few months later they muscled their way into British Vogue, with Bailey agreeing to do the shoot only if the unknown Shrimpton was his model. The 14-page spread was a hit with readers, so the magazine took another risk and sent the pair to Manhattan, where a Youthquake culture was growing. “Young Idea Goes West,” the shots they took during their whirlwind week there, were published in the April 1, 1962 issue of British Vogue, and made the duo famous. They travelled with Read More »

Is This the Worst Vogue Cover…Ever?

Um, what the hell is going on here? Putting aside the (now) kitschy Margaret Keane–esque factor, there is nothing fashionable nor French about this cover. You would have to dig deep into the normally stellar Vogue Paris archives to find a truly bad cover, but this, ahem, dog just fell into my lap when I was hunting for something slightly more chic. I mean, what is this? A sad pomeranian offering a posey of violets to a forlorn reader? And so cliché! (Parisians and their frou-frou puppies.) Of course I couldn’t stop here, and had to go and Google “ugliest Vogue cover,” and that’s how I found this lovely lady: Read More »

Fashion Statement: Edna Woolman Chase

“We at Vogue don’t throw ourselves under subway trains, my dear. If we must, we take sleeping pills.”Edna Woolman Chase, American editor of Vogue magazine from 1914 to 1952. Chase, who had very strict ideas about proper decorum among her “Vogue girls,”  was giving advice to a young editor who tried to commit suicide by throwing herself under a subway train. Pictured above are covers from two of the last issues Chase worked on before retiring after 56 years with the magazine (check out the manicure on original supermodel Lisa Fonssagrives!). To read more Fashion Statements, click here. To read about the history and founding of Vogue magazine based on Chase’s excellent autobiography, Always in Vogue, read the Story Behind the Style. Read More »

Great Magazine Covers: Sonia Delaunay

This illustration from January 1926 is one of my favorite vintage Vogue covers, mostly because it features one of my favorite overlooked artists, Sonia Delaunay. (I’m also especially fond of the charmingly awkward style of famed illustrator Georges Lepape.) This isn’t to say Delaunay was ignored during her lifetime; she had a solo exhibition at the Louvre in 1964, a first for a living female artist, and here she is on the cover of Vogue. She was included in numerous group exhibitions, contributed to fashion, film and theater, and—along with her husband—founded Orphism, the art movement that seeks to depict simultaneous expressions of modern life, energy and movement through color. So as far as female artists go, now or then, Delaunay is certainly one of the more celebrated. And yet she is still unknown to most people. Go figure.

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A Plucky Little Paper by the Name of Vogue is Born

It was a place where anything seemed possible. The small, weekly society magazine that went by the name of Vogue was staffed by “ladies and gentleman, so no one worked very hard and anybody who wanted extra duties was welcome to them,” according to Edna Woolman Chase, an employee there for nearly 60 years. When Chase was just an 18-year-old “little girl from the country” (aka Asbury Park, New Jersey), a friend helped her get hired into Vogue’s circulation department, barely three years after the magazine was founded on this day in 1893. The teenager lived in a Manhattan boarding house with other single working women in an atmosphere she nostalgically describes as “family-like.” She threw herself into her job, a full-time gig addressing subscriber’s envelopes and adding new subscriber’s names into a ledger. Chase was paid $10 a week and loved every second of it.

“Vogue’s staff was small and the atmosphere around the office informal and non-professional,” Chase wrote in her 1954 memoir, Always in Vogue. “I was, I suppose, a factotum. A kind of little widget, young, eager and ignorant. From the very first day I felt a proprietary interest in the whole organization. I couldn’t wait Read More »

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