Vogue 100: A Century of Style
Vogue: a Century of Style, At the National Portrait Gallery is a dive through fashion in the history of the western world. Contributor Léa Tirabasso reflects on the Vogue 100 years exhibition.
Organised by decades, one thing clearly emerges: Vogue has always been undoubtedly contemporary.
The magazine, discoverer and exhibitor of the latest fashion trends, has also managed to radiate the Arts, and by doing so, managed to become the popular window of a contemporary culture. Jean Cocteau, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Truman Capote, Picasso, Sonia Delaunay, Lucian Freud, Fred Astaire, Damien Hirst; all appeared in different editions.
Le Corset by Horst welcomes the visitor by its delicacy and graphic strength. The tone is set. The birth of Fashion Photography itself seems intrinsically linked to the evolution of the magazine. The symbiosis between the two makes it hard to define which one came first. The journey throughout the rooms is exquisite; the eyes, moving from picture to picture, rediscover with great pleasure, works by Lee Miller, Cecil Beaton, Juergen Teller, Norman Parkinson, David Bailey, Peter Lindbergh, Irving Penn, Corinne Day…
A lot of male names behind the camera. A lot of female names in front of it. By inviting Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin as guest editors, the magazine confirmed its intention to stay close to the Avant Garde and most of all, its intention to place Woman at the centre of its world.
Vogue has always been committed to graphic and digital innovation; from the Art Nouveau illustrations in the 20s to colour printing in the 40s and the launch of their website as early as 1996; In short, the magazine is at the cutting edge of its’ time, both aesthetically and technically.
It is impossible not to constantly come back to Alexander McQueen’s portrait by Tim Walker: it reigns at the end of a long corridor. He observes with a careful eye the ever surprising evolution of the British culture. This Vanitas puts everything in context: time goes by and life constantly needs to feel sweeter and lighter.
British Vogue was founded in 1916. The Great War made it harder for North American products to cross the ocean. Readers needed escape, spectacle. Vogue creates images, scenes, stories. The exhibition reflects the essence of the magazine: it is just like our society, a spectacle that is good to flick the pages of.
Vogue is indestructible. (cf : Cecil Beaton Fashion in Indestructible, 1941)
PS : VOGUE = « en vogue, populaire, à la mode » / « Impulsion given to a boat by the coordinated movement of the paddles »