Vogue: 100 Years of Style
For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with fashion magazines, I am not quite at the Carrie Bradshaw level of ‘Buying Vogue instead of dinner…’ because, I mean, food is actually important to me. However, I do share her absolute love of the models and the escapism of the beautifully curated world these magazines represent. Even now, in our digital age, I still reach for a huge stack of glossy magazines at the start of every month.
On Sunday I found myself in my idea of heaven at the Vogue: 100 Years of Style exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. This exhibition moves us backwards in time from the present day to Vogue’s launch in 1916 and essentially has the feel of stepping inside the magazine. These edited Vogue moments are the epitome of the most beautiful fashion photography of the past century.
As I wandered round the exhibition in awe of so much beauty, it made me realise how little Vogue is actually about the clothes. I can barely remember them. What’s memorable is the unique way in which this magazine has documented some of the most evocative images of the times; from the post war years to the glamour and excess of the Supermodel era, or the doe-eyed, gamine look so beautifully captured by David Bailey’s pictures of Jean Shrimpton. It is Vogue’s iconic status, combined with the inspired creativity of those whose work has been displayed between its covers that also pulls the most influential figures of these times to grace their pages in a way that no other publication would be able to do. That is what makes this particular step back through history so interesting. There are few other media outlets that would have been able to access the diverse range of public figures that Vogue has, from Twiggy to Princess Diana and even Margaret Thatcher appearing on their glossy printed pages.
As for me and my favourite? It’s all about Mossy. From her fresh-faced youthful photos by Corrine Day in the 1990s, which changed the landscape of fashion photography; to the Mario Testino 2001 image of her flashing her underwear in a Union Jack bomber jacket, she has defined and influenced the way my generation dress more than anyone else. Additionally, I am huge fan of anyone who doesn’t ever feel the need to conform and in her own words doesn’t understand: ‘Why the fuck can’t we all have fun all the time.’ And isn’t that what fashion, Vogue, and this sort of opulent escapism is all about?