British Vogue is a fashion magazine that has been published in London since autumn 1916. It is the British edition of the American magazine Vogue and is owned and distributed by Condé Nast. British Vogue’s editor in 2012 claimed that, “Vogue’s power is universally acknowledged. It's the place everybody wants to be if they want to be in the world of fashion" and 85% of the magazine's readers agree that “Vogue is the Fashion Bible”. The magazine is considered to be one that links fashion to high society and class, teaching its readers how to ‘assume a distinctively chic and modern appearance’. As a branch-off of American Vogue, British Vogue is a magazine whose success is based upon its advertising rather than its sales revenue. In 2007, it ran 2,020 pages of advertising at an average of £16,000 a page. It is deemed to be more commercial than other editions of Vogue. British Vogue is the most profitable British magazine as well as the most profitable edition of Vogue besides the US and China editions.
Kate Moss on the May 2000 cover of Vogue
|Former editors||Alexandra Shulman 1992–2017 |
Elizabeth Tilberis 1988–1992
|Publisher||Condé Nast Publications|
During the First World War, Condé Nast, Vogue's publisher, had to deal with restrictions on overseas shipping as well as paper shortages in America. The British edition of Vogue was the answer to this problem, providing Vogue fashion coverage in the British Isles when it was not practicable to receive it in the usual way. Under the London edition's second editor, Elspeth Champcommunal, the magazine was essentially the same as the American edition, except for its British English spellings. However, Champcommunal thought it important that Vogue be more than a fashion magazine. It featured articles on ‘society and sporting news... Health and beauty advice... travelogues... and editorials’, making it a 'skillfully mixed cocktail'. Champcommunal held her editorial position until 1922.
Under its next editor, Dorothy Todd, a renowned Vogue editor due to her boldness, especially in her movement to blend the arts and fashion, the magazine shifted its focus from fashion to literature, featuring articles from Clive Bell about art exhibitions in Paris. There were also notable features from noted English writers such as Virginia Woolf and Aldous Huxley. Due to Todd's changes, the magazine lost much of its audience, and she spent only four years as editor. British Vogue is not believed to have really taken off until after its third editor, Alison Settle, was appointed in 1926.
Under Audrey Withers (editor from 1940 to 1960), the magazine again took a literary direction, and during the Second World War it even took part in reporting the war. In 1944, the American photographer Lee Miller persuaded Withers to send her to Normandy to produce an article on wartime nursing; Miller then followed the Allied advance through Europe, reporting the liberation of Paris and sending a story from Buchenwald. Dame Anna Wintour edited the British edition from 1985 to 1987, before taking over Vogue in New York City.
Alexandra Shulman was Editor-in-Chief of the magazine from 1992 to 2017. When Shulman was editor, the magazine drew more than a million readers. Shulman was known for developing collector's issues of British Vogue, such as the ‘Gold Millennium Issue’ where celebrities and supermodels such as Kate Moss featured on the cover. Shulman was also praised for her use of up and coming photographers like Mario Testino. Shulman became known for her attempt to change the face of fashion. She pushed designers to stop using 'size-zero' models. Shulman stated that "super-skinny models are no longer acceptable," receiving positive notes from women all over the world.
British Vogue today
Edward Enninful was confirmed as the new editor-in-chief of British Vogue on 10 April 2017. Condé Nast International Chairman and CEO Jonathan Newhouse announced him as the successor to Alexandra Shulman, calling Enninful "an influential figure in the communities of fashion, Hollywood and music which shape the cultural zeitgeist", adding that "by virtue of his talent and experience, Edward is supremely prepared to assume the responsibility of British Vogue". Enninful's first issue as editor-in-chief was 2017's December issue, featuring British model and activist Adwoa Aboah on the cover. In September 2019, Enninful collaborated with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex on the September issue. The issue highlights "Forces for Change", and features on the cover 15 activists including actress Salma Hayek and interviews with former US First Lady Michelle Obama.
There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not the fashion industry is racist, and with the arrest of British designer John Galliano, who was found guilty of making racist and anti-Semitic comments in a public setting, as well as the news the hairdresser James Brown, who has worked closely with Kate Moss, went on a rant where he used the 'N' word, more attention has been brought to the issue. Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman joined the race debate, making a statement to the Daily Mail that she doesn't "think fashion is institutionally racist in the slightest".
British Vogue also faces some criticisms for fashion blunders. In 2011, the magazine was criticised for a spread in the December 2011 issue which featured a rosy-cheeked model sitting atop a yak, sporting a pair of £5,820 trousers said to make the model look like the animal.
- Lynn Barber (11 February 2008). "The world according to garb". The Observer. London. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- At 500 pages the veteran style bible looks heftier than many of its 'size zero' models.
- "Media Information". Vogue. UK. Archived from the original on 14 April 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- [König A. (2006) Glossy Words: An Analysis of Fashion Writing in British Vogue. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 10(1/2), 205–224.]
- firstname.lastname@example.org (21 July 2005). "China's in vogue so Vogue's in China". People's Daily. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- Lisa Armstrong. "Vogue China celebrates 100 issues with Mario Testino edition". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
Angelica Cheung is arguably the most powerful Vogue editor in the world. Anna Wintour may be more famous, but Cheung's Vogue - the Chinese edition - is so commercially successful...
- "Elspeth Champcommunal Contribution". Vogue. UK. 17 May 2011. Archived from the original on 5 April 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- Mahood, A., Fashioning Readers: The avant garde and British Vogue, 1920-9 in Women, 13 (1) (2002), pp. 37–47
- Aldous Huxley: Selected Letters". p. 144. Ivan R. Dee, 2007
- [Reed, C. (2006). A Vogue That Dare Not Speak its Name: Sexual Subculture During the Editorship of Dorothy Todd, 1922–26. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 10(1/2), 39–71.]
- Drusilla Beyfus, 'Withers, (Elizabeth) Audrey (1905–2001), magazine editor' in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2005)
- Marcelle D'argy Smith (25 June 2009). "Zero Tolerance". Daily Mail. UK. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- "British Vogue hires first male editor". BBC News. 10 April 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
- Gilbert, Sophie. "Can a New Vogue Editor Make Britain Great Again?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 17 November 2017.
- Paton, Elizabeth (29 July 2019). "Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, Guest-Edits British Vogue's September Issue". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
- Ella Alexander (20 February 2012). "John Galliano found guilty". Vogue. UK. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- "James Brown apologises". Madnewsuk.com. 30 May 2011. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- Ella Alexander (14 June 2011). "Shulman joins the race debate". Vogue. UK. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
- Fox, Imogen (1 November 2011). "Yak Chic Vogue". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 22 March 2012.