Came across several copies of 1920s french Vogue for sale on ebay.
February 15, 1921
Cover illustration by Helen Dryden
While I was looking at these I was struck by the differences and similarities between current and past issues of Vogue. They both feature images high-end fashion, portraits of beautiful women who are either very rich or actresses, stunning interiors, news on the art scene, plus plenty of Hermes and fragrance ads.
And what's different? The beautiful fashion illustrations of the past have been replaced with colour photography with the sex factor had been turned right up. It's fascinating to think that there was once an entire industry dedicated to magazine illustration which, while it hasn't completely died out, has been largely usurped by photography.
The mechanics of delivering images of the latest fashions have also completely changed. When I imagine the world of French Vogue in the 1920s, I see an illustrator in a designer's atelier sketching a frozen-still model. Using pencil, paint and pen the illustrator labours for days over every line, then months later the fashionable women of the times would peruse those images on the pages of Vogue, in search of their next fashion purchase. Now? Scores of photographers are crammed in at the end of the catwalk, taking hundreds and hundreds of shots of high energy runway shows on their digital cameras. And, just hours later, the images are posted on the internet for millions of fashion-hungry fans to devour. For fashion shoots, a model prances and poses in front of a photographer, each of the hundreds of images he shoots popping up almostly simultaneously on the computer screen at his side, and any flaws in the image quickly whisked away by photoshop.
I'm not complaining or yearning for the simplicity of the good old days (especially seeing I wasn't alive then)... it's just interesting to think about...
Click on the images for a closer look.
December 15, 1921
Cover illustration by Georges Plank
January 15, 1921
Cover illustration by Harriet Meserole
Cover illustration by Georges Lepape
Cover illustration Benito
Love the font in the Hermes ad!
Update: If you liked this, you'll find more nuggets of vintage Vogue Francaise gold on this post.
See more images from these magazines or buy them on ebay from hautecouture_fr.
This seller seems to specialise in vintage fashion illustration prints and other vintage magazines. And a warning if you're really keen to buy, his postings are in french.