Guy Bourdin Vogue 100 National Portrait Gallery
2016 celebrates 100 years of British Vogue, and to honor the occasion, it is sharing its vast and colourful history in a retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery in London, entitled Vogue: A Century of Style.
Taking over a year to assemble, current Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman worked with Patrick Kinmonth on design- a member of the Vogue family she has known since the 70s. Keeping it in the family is something, which is very important to Vogue. Almost like an elite fashion family- once you have passed the initiation, you are welcome back!
This is certainly true with Kate Moss who has been one of the most popular cover stars across he 20+ year career. And the exhibition opens with her infamous if not irreverent Union Jack shot, taken by Marion Testino. Closely followed by the full and much talked about, controversial shoot with Corinne Day from 1993 when Kate was just 19. The images of a waif-like Moss in her underwear in a grungy flat, caused a commotion about eating disorders and drug abuse and resulted in Moss’s agent banning her from working with Day again. However, it launched her to celebrity-dom and she has appeared in countless Vogue shoots since.
But the show doesn’t only celebrate models or the clothes (or lack of- be prepared for lots of flesh) it showcases the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916. Bringing together over 280 prints from the Conde Nast archives, it provides a chronological history of fashion, trends and popular culture across the decades, which has made it one of the most influential, intelligent and inspirational fashion magazines around the world.
With the Internet superseding many print publications, British Vogue is still going strong. Used a reference point for many fashionistas, designers, PRs and IT girls, it is the go to handbook for all the acceptable next season trends, and has been a showcase for the most talked about designers, debuting collections of Dior, Saint Laurent and McQueen.
Photographers including names that you will have heard of – Mario Testino, Herb Ritts, Snowdon, Beaton, Donovan, Parkinson, Nick Knight and Patrick Demarchelier who have taken images of every who is anyone, across the last century; And with the creative, financial, backing of the Conde Nast nest, these images have resulted in a time-capsule of not how to wear clothes, but how to display clothes on beautiful bodies, with no regard to the way the designer might have intended.
Given full creative license, Vogue makes fashion edgy. Even though it focuses predominantly on the designers who advertise in the magazine, by using the world’s most recognized photographers, models, and creative teams, the collections are brought to life and turn each shoot into a collaboration to take you away from the commercial and obvious.
However, the exhibition has been carefully designed as not just a room full of magazine tears. There are walls curated with oversize original prints, along with a looping fashion film, consisting of footage from Vogue shoots, and my favourite room contains the trail of covers, which must have must have been a tricky choice of what to eliminate.
With changing fashions, make up and hair styles, Vogue has definitely earned it’s moniker of a fashion bible in my eyes, and this is a must see for anyone who is interested in the influential role of 20th/21st Century British Fashion- here’s to another century!
Showcasing at National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London until 22 May 2016.
Article: Sara Darling
Vogue100, National Portrait Gallery
Reporting on culture travel, creative events and social issues.
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