On December 17, 1892, the first issue of Vogue magazine was published. Featuring a drawing of a debutante by A.B. Wenzel on its cover, the weekly publication was targeted to elite Manhattanites. As styles and society changed, Vogue managed to maintain its role as a fashion authority and trendsetter. As Anna Wintour, the current Editor-in-Chief once said, “Vogue is a fashion magazine, and a fashion magazine is about change.” For the past 125 years, Vogue has been there to document and influence the sartorial and societal vicissitudes in the United States and around the world.
Founded by the American businessman Arthur Baldwin Turnure, Vogue was acquired in 1905 by Condé Montrose Nast, after Turnure’s death. Under Nast’s control, Vogue became a bi-weekly magazine, expanded its readership and earned a reputation as an important fashion source.
Vogue has had its share of powerful and visionary editors-in-chief. Under the leadership of Edna Woolman Chase (1914-1952), the magazine continued to expand its influence in the fashion world. With Diana Vreeland at the helm (1962-1971), Vogue responded to the popularity of the counterculture movement, covering downtown bohemian fashion boutiques while also maintaining the magazine’s uptown glamour. She booked the most expensive shoot in fashion history, featuring 60s “it girl,” Veruschka Von Lehndorff. Shot by photographer Richard Avedon over five weeks in Japan, it is rumored to have cost one million dollars. Grace Mirabella (1971-1988) made Vogue a monthly magazine while adding more articles alongside its already famous glossy fashion spreads.
In July of 1988, Anna Wintour replaced Mirabella as the new editor-in-chief. With her trademark bob cut and big sunglasses, she envisioned Vogue as the readers’ “glamourous girlfriend” and added a more youthful vibe to the magazine. While still highlighting the luxury brands that had always been the magazine’s mainstays, Wintour also mixed in more affordable pieces. Her first cover embodied the magazine’s new look. It featured Israeli model Michaela Bercu in a glamorous Christian Lacroix jacket paired with jeans. Wintour’s tastemaking style, along with the vision of fashion editor Grace Coddington, led to the increase of Vogue’s circulation and popularity.
Although the magazine never reports on sales, it is said that the highest selling issue of Vogue was the 1992 100th Anniversary issue. The iconic cover featured ten supermodels, including Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, and Naomi Campbell.
To this day, Vogue continues to set new trends, while chronicling our ever-changing culture and style. With 22 print editions from Vogue Japan to Vogue Saudi Arabia, the magazine reaches over 24 million readers around the globe. In addition, Vogue.com boasts over 42 million unique monthly online users. Dubbed the “Then & Now” issue, the December 2017 magazine looks back at the legendary artists who have changed culture, beauty, politics, and fashion over the past 125 years. And, Vogue has been there all the while, both documenting and influencing our fashion sense.