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The Analysis of Vogue Covers Communications Assignment (Essay Sample)


I was required to write an analysis of vogue covers from the year 1920 to the year 2010 using the following guideline: title of the magazine, publisher, target audience, image on the cover, style of presentation, advertisement, representation in the magazine, and competition for the magazine


Title of the Magazine
American businessman, Arthur Baldwin Turnure, founded Vogue in the year 1892. Interestingly, the task of determining a suitable title for the magazine was assigned to its first editor, Josephine Redding. Upon intensive research, Redding came upon the name Vogue. Based on her findings, Vogue was a phrase used to refer to a certain mode of fashion that was prevalent in any particular time. For Redding, the definition was in sync with the mission, vision, and overall objective of the publication, which was to present and denote the magazine as a trendsetter in fashion and lifestyle issues. In the early 1920’s the magazine was sold for nearly 15 cents, by the 1950’s the price had increased significantly to 50 cents and currently, the magazine retails for 6.99 U.S dollars. This gradual increase in price over the years can be attributed to the subsequent increased popularity of the magazine as it continues to gain a wider readership.[Zuckerman, Mary Ellen. 1998. A history of popular women's magazines in the United States, 1792-1995. Westport, Conn: Greenwood]
Publisher of Vogue
Notably, Conde Montrose Nast purchased Vogue in the year 1905 following the death of Arthur Baldwin Turnure, founder of Vogue. Till date, Conde Nast is recognized as the official publisher of the magazine and has its offices located in New York. Initially, upon the purchase of the magazine, Nast chose to publish the magazine under Vogue Company and it was not until 1923 that he chose to incorporate the publication of the magazine under Conde Nast. Under the management of Nast, the numbers of publication have changed over time. Where once it was a weekly publication, in the year, 1909, Nast determined that it would be a bi-weekly publication. Later in 1973, Nast made it a monthly publication and it has remained as such till date. Research indicates that by the year 1925 the magazine has been circulated approximately 137, 000 times. Other than the American issue, over the years, Vogue has gained a wide following around the globe necessitating its publication in 17 other countries namely Britain, France, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, Russia, Australia, China, Germany, Greece, Japan, Korea, India, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, and recently Arabia. Besides the publication of the magazine, Vogue is also recognized for the publication of several fashion books.[Ibid] [Ibid]
Other the magazine, Vogue is associated with other forms of media ranging from websites to podcasts. To support the monthly publications of the magazine, Vogue created a website with six different content categories namely beauty, fashion news, celebrity styles, videos, fashion updates and shows, and cultural reviews. This website further hosts every single publication of the magazine since its inception in the year 1892. Also available of the website is the Vogue channel, which was launched in the year 2013 to air mini-series. In particular, the channel airs Vogue weddings, makeovers, Vogue diaries, Vogue voices, Goodness, Fashion week, and Beauty Mark among others. The Voguepedia launched in 2011, is a fashion encyclopedia that contains every issue of Vogue since 1892. In September 10, 2015 Vogue launched a teaser for its podcast series. With Andre Leon Tally as the host, the twenty one minute podcast series officially commenced on September 14, 2015, with Anna Wintour, the present chief editor, as the first guest. Vogue is also associated with several documentaries that have featured celebrated designers and individuals in the world of fashion. Recently, the magazine showed its extensive influence in the world of fashion by launching a Vogue app that hosts the latest news on beauty, fashion, celebrity style, and runways among other issues.
Target Audience
From inception, Vogue’s target was the upper class in the society. This was evidenced by the fact that the magazine constantly recounted the elite’s social gatherings, leisure activities, clothes they wore, places they visited and habits on all its covers. Notably, the initial target audience was not exclusively females, as the early years of Vogue were characterized by covers on sports and current social affairs of the time that were targeted at the male audience. Over time however, the readership of the magazine become exclusively the female audience. This was because Conde Nast chose to publish fashion oriented information that was relatable to the female audience.
Images on the cover
In the early nineteenth century, Nast advocated for the introduction of fashion photography on the cover of Vogue. Primarily, fashion photography dictated that the image published was that of a woman dressed fashionably rather than the image of trendy attires. Examples of the initial fashion photographs published on the cover of Vogue depicted high society women dressed in glamorous gowns and large hats. As the magazine went on to gain popularity, Nast decided that the modeling for Vogue’s cover page was to be done by actresses as they were capable of practiced poses which would further attract a large readership.
Under new management, Alexander Liberman was appointed director of the art department in the year 1942 during which he made significant changes to the cover of Vogue. First, he obliterated the use of hand lettering and introduced a bold typeface into the magazine. Second, he was took it upon himself to instruct photographers on the type of images they would capture for the cover of the magazine. Precisely, the cover now included images of modern paintings which served as the background for fashion photography.
From the year 1963 to the year 1971, Diana Vreeland was appointed the Chief editor of the magazine and among other modifications, she changed the images of the cover models. Vreeland introduced the publication of images marked with exoticism and atypical models that were a distinct contrast from the previous set of models. The atypical models possessed multicultural appearances, were more youthful, and had unisex body types. Notably, these models replaced the original set of models that were curvaceous and mature in age with long-legged teenagers whose ‘undernourished’ looking bodies become the new acceptable standard among audiences. Due to the change of images used in the covers of Vogue, the magazine begun to appeal to a more youthful audience. Interestingly, in the year 1973, the magazine chose to publish the first African American model as the cover of the August issue. This was a revolutionary move as the magazine in an attempt to diversify its audience, begun to attract a wide readership among women of color. Another important milestone in the history of Vogue America was during the leadership of Anna Wintour as the Chief Editor since the year 1988. During her tenure, Wintour changed the style of cover photos from head shots to full body shots. This was done in an attempt to showcase the type of clothes that models wore.[Angeletti, Norberto, and Alberto Oliva. 2012. In Vogue: the illustrated history of the world's most famous fashion magazine. New York: Rizzoli.] [Ibid] [Amed, Imran. 2017. "Anna Wintour". Business Of Fashion. /community/people/anna-wintour.]
Style of Presentation
Markedly, in the early 1950’s, Liberman changed the presentation of the magazine through the introduction of a different type of fashion photography. In particular, this new mode of presentation focused on the attitudes of models and the backdrops used on the images as part of the cover; these backdrops ranged over use of modern paintings and city streets. Over time however, the magazine begun to portray fashion as an illusion through its cover images. To this effect, cover models were photographed standing next to wax figures or standing in mirrored rooms. In other issues, the models were also captured in museums such as the Paris museum. Evidently, these cover images revamped the overall look of the magazine as it mirrored the expensive taste of the upper class target audience. It is imperative to note that during that time, the images were in black and white.[Kornbluth, Jessie. 2017. "Art Of Being Alexander Liberman" 14 (40).] [Ibid]
In the 1970’s the magazine changed its presentation by introducing outdoor and environmental shots as well as shots that depicted models in motion as part of the cover photo. When questioned on the objective of the new cover images, Vogue’s chief editor argued that the magazine intended to tell stories through images. Additionally, Vogue incorporated the use of color, particularly on the cover page as well as font color. Notably, the title of the magazine is no longer printed in black as different covers show the title printed in red and white to match the backdrop and color of the cover image. From the cover one notes that the cover model is placed at the center of the front page, while text on the content of the magazine are printed in both upper and lower case on each side of the image. This form of presentation is simple, yet detailed and denotes a form of sophistication, which is a reflection of taste of the elite readership.
Markedly, the name Vogue is synonymous with style and fashion, hence, top brands in the industry have over the years been in competition to gain advertisement opportunities on the pages of the magazine. Some of these top brands range over Gucci, Samsung, Louis Vitton, Apple, Issey Miyake, and Lakme. In this regard, some of the products advertised on Vogue include watches, fragrances, make up and beauty products, clothes, and shoes among others. Seeing as advertisement is the backbone of any business, two thirds of Vogue constitutes adverts. Products advertised on Vogue range from as low as 100 U.S dollars to as high as 6,000 U.S dollars. These products are mainly aimed at the middle and...
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