Evolution of Vogue covers
Vintage design has made a huge comeback over the last few years. Its sense of nostalgia and familiarity is what makes it successful which is probably why the Coca-Cola Christmas advert has been the same for over a decade – everyone loves the familiarity of is and considers Christmas to have arrived when the advert is shown on television.
An area of design I specialise in is vintage, which is no surprise that I decided to explore the word and meaning in greater detail as part of my masters. There is however a whole era of vintage design when it comes to magazines that have become iconic over the years. Though magazines are constantly changing and evolving it is important to note that before modern day printing presses and the Adobe Creative Suite existed there was creative editorial design long before printed publications competed with the internet.
The biggest example of vintage editorial design is without a doubt Vogue. It is the epitome of vintage design when it comes to magazines and it set the bar very high creatively for magazines of the Art Deco era. Vogue became popular before cover girls were photoshopped to the extreme like today. They were more about the design and the attention to detail – especially in the Art Deco period. Now “each new issue of Vogue is often less about what’s inside its pages than it is about what – or who – is on its cover” says T Magazine. But “like every other magazine, they’ve added more text on their covers to lure the readers in” argues medium.com. The cover is there to give you an overview of everything within an issue.
When Vogue used no text on the cover there was a sense of mystery about the issue and a need to know more, now having a synopsis readily available on the cover suits today’s generation of magazine readers – we want to know everything at first glance in ten words or less. This makes designing covers for such a profound magazine difficult. Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour – an editor to be feared for her brilliance – believes a good cover should be “a poster. It has to look like Vogue. It has to be a strong image. It has to be seductive.” So now we have a synopsis of articles within the magazine on the cover and it has to be seductive? My personal opinion? I found the old covers to be more seductive. After all, less is more – leave more to the imagination, and that’s exactly what the old Art Deco and Jazz Age inspired cover did in the 1920s and 1930s. They were seductive with illustration and that’s what makes them iconic today. Now you can browse the newsstands and the majority of magazines will all look the same, the only difference being the masthead. You didn’t get this decades ago – every cover looked different, and vintage Vogue stood out as the fashion magazine to have on your coffee table.
Vogue has been around for more than 120 years so of course it has had to evolve to survive and thrive. We are currently in the Wintour age and she revolutionised magazine covers by removing supermodels from the cover and replacing them with celebrities. Now all the magazines do it showing Wintour to be ahead of her time. And that’s what is so extraordinary about Vogue magazine and its cover history – they aren’t afraid to be different, or to be bold. While we are in a modern era of magazine covers it is their vintage covers that have lived on as art prints, postcards and merchandise in art galleries. Could this generation of covers have the same historical value and be considered vintage? Maybe – maybe not. Only time will tell. Either way Vogue has made a lasting impression on the editorial print world – even Will Smith, Ashley Banks and Madonna can attest to that.