Vogue magazine is created and published by Conde Nast, which is a large global company that make a wide range of printed magazines.
Vogue magazine itself started back in 1892 and the American Version was bought by Conde Nast in 1909, as they saw it had a future and wanted to bring it into their brand. They launched the UK version of the magazine in 1916.
Vogue thrived throughout the early 20th century, providing audiences with an aspirational lifestyle that they dreamed of having. Vogue did very well during both wartime eras partly to do with its audience and its aspirational dream-like brand.
In the post-war period Vogue continued to do well, as many women were enjoying the consumerism and emphasis on "treating yourself" (40s, 50s). That popularity has continued even when magazines have suffered heavy losses- it still sells around 200,000 copies a month.
There's a huge number of international versions of vogue that reflects its success, but it also reflects Hesmondhalgh's idea that powerful companies often replicate successful formats to maximise profits.
Many companies avoid taking risks because it could mean less revenue. Conde Nast does take risks that make Vogue stand out from other magazines- for example, they were one of the first magazines to start using colour photography for their magazines, which was very expensive back in the 1930s but their target audience could afford it.
In the 60s, Advance Publications purchased Conde Nast and encouraged more modernity and risk-taking. They were one of the first fashion magazines to use a black woman on the cover. It created the idea of Vogue being cutting-edge and pushing boundaries.
Another way they try to boost sales is by working with a lot of celebrities. They've had artists like Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali create their own front covers. Collaborations with famous artists guest editing the magazine adds an element of exclusivity.
Vogue also featured people that weren't exactly famous beforehand, like photographer Cecil Beaton, lots of writers that came on to become huge writers of their time, such as JD Salinger, Virginia Wolf and Sadie Smith. That has created an image that Vogue was a magazine that discovered and nurtured amazing new talent.
Even those like Nelson Mandela have guest edited Vogue magazines. Exclusive photos/articles about people apart of the Royal Family like Princess Diana, The Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Anne, etc, draws in a global audience and makes Vogue seem luxurious.
Conde Nast had its own fashion & design college, where students can learn from the best designers. They also had a "luxury conference" where people can go to workshops and speak to high-end luxury designers. They have restaurants and bar divisions too with a Vogue café, trying to take that exclusive high-end brand vision and turn it into another media to make more money from.
Individual staff at Vogue have played a huge role in its success, often having their own reputations as being the pinnacle of fashion knowledge. As Conde Nast were so powerful, and Anna Wintour (editor-in-chief of Vogue since 1988) was considered so essential to success, they were able to pay her a huge salary. Her salary is over £2 million a year, plus she gets a chauffeur-driven car, a £200,000 shopping allowance, and a hotel suite to stay in. Conde Nast also "loaned" her £1.6 million to buy a house.
Wintour began a trend of using more celebrities on the covers, rather than just models. She also introduced "Teen's Vogue" and "Men's Vogue" in order to expand the brand and attract a much larger audience.
As well as the college for fashion & design, there is also a Vogue "Fashion Fund" which started in the mid-2000s and was all about helping new fashion designers financially. It sounds very selfless but ultimately it adds to the reputation of Vogue being the forefront of fashion and finding new talent.
Advertising is crucial for magazines such as Vogue as it earns them a huge amount of money. Currently there's more adverts in Vogue than there has ever been because it makes them a huge amount of money. One full page advert in Vogue costs £36,000. Lots of readers now see-through advertisements and find themselves being "put-off" from a magazine, but actually in Vogue, readers often embrace the adverts in the magazine as they see Vogue as an opinion leader giving them ideas of what they should buy to have a certain lifestyle.
Vogue has now moved into a lot of digital media- there's a digital version of the magazine. They have a strong social media presence, recognising many people are online now. Conde Nast have admitted that they think they will be using a lot more modern technology in Vogue in order to target audiences.
- Sophia Loren -
A very famous actress in the 60s. The front cover is a close-up of her that makes her seem important, powerful, exotic, and like a role model.
The exotic nature of her image may reflect Stuart Hall's ideas about the use of Middle Eastern stereotypes, representing ethnic minorities as "other".
- Sheila Black -
Featuring a working female expert on finance would've been quite unusual in the 1960s. Sheila Black works for the Financial Times. She talks about women being financially independent and wanting to invest money- this is very unusual for its time as women didn't have that much power over finance. This started after an influx of second-wave feminism. An article about a women making investments and having financial power challenges the historical context when women were often financially controlled by their husbands.
The choice to represent women as having financial power might reflect the class and wealth of the typical Vogue reader (AB socioeconomic groups). The inclusion of an article that gives basic definitions of financial terms might suggest that women don't understand economics and investments, this may represent the new changes in the 60s of women gaining a little independence from their husbands and fathers, but not completely- the article copy suggests that women still are reliant on their husbands in many ways and unable to keep finances secret.
- Conventional Representations -
The other pages offer fairly conventional representations of women for the 1960s, often showing them as domestic or sexualised.
The Cutex advert denotes a woman with bare shoulders suggesting nudity, "bare essentials", "barely decent". The shade names have connotations of nudity, suggesting that showing flesh and being sexualised is important for women. "Are you woman enough to wear them?" the rhetorical question suggests that femininity is linked to nakedness and sexual appeal.
Very reflective of the way women were, and often still are, represented.
The Revlon advert gives similar representations, calling women "alluring" and "beguiling"- this idea that a woman's role is to attract others visually.
The Imperial Leather advert- the image on this advert clearly reflects the stereotype that women are maternal and domestic. Her body language and facial expression show women as emotional, caring and loving. Because it's speaking about soap and the softness of your skin, it represents women as needing to be soft and gentle, which may mean delicate or weak.
- Historical Representation -
The picnic articles and fashion pages show women holding children, nurturing them- they're passive, not doing anything, just lounging around in those photos. It feels quite romantic but also shows women not taking any actions. The passivity of the women in many articles fails to reflect the growing power of some women in the 60s, such as feminists.
This may be because feminism was still considered a new and alternative ideas whereas Vogue was aimed at a mainstream market. May also reflect the fact that richer women were under less financial pressure to go out and work, so many of them did lead lives more centred around leisure and family life.
The use of images of young women as mothers reflects the historical context as women in the 60s were typically expected to marry young and start families. Modern women's magazines aimed at those age 20-35 often choose not to feature content about children, as many women now are able to have careers first, and have children in their 30s or later.
- Class Representations -
There's quite complex language going on because the magazine is targeted toward middle-to-upper classes with an assumed advanced lexis. The costume, specifically the on the picnic spread, is very formal. In the article's copy, they talk about lords and ladies, famous artworks, etc, representing upper-class "cultured" women. These upper class people are featured as a utopia, idealised and being aspirational role models.
This may reflect the fact that readers of Vogue tend to be from the middle/upper classes, or aspire to this.
- Ethnicity Representations -
White models are often pictured in jewels and expensive clothes, representing them as high status. White ethnic appearance is normalised, with darker ethnicities being underrepresented in the range of "nude toned" Cutex products - the colour ranges of lipstick and other makeup in the magazine is clearly representing lighter skin tones and not darker tones. The lack of minority models, and makeup aimed at darker skinned readers, reflects the less inclusive nature of Britain in the 60s.
There are representations for black Egyptian men in the fashion pages but their positions show them as marginalised; they're in the background of the shots, out of focus, and are seen as working and doing deals, whereas the white woman is dancing and enjoying leisure time, this idea that the black men are poorer.
This marginalisation of ethnic minorities creates a post colonialist view of ethnicity, with them being seen as "staff", or less important than the white models.
The white man's suit, tie, watch and writing suggest wealth, status and a Westernised view of "professionalism".