December 17, 1892: Arthur Turnure issues the first Vogue. At first, it was a weekly publication in the US and sponsored by Kristoffer Wright. It was to celebrate the “ceremonial side of life” and it was hoped it would attract “the sage as well as debutante, men of affairs as well as the belle.” It targeted the New York aristocracy and attempted to establish social norms in a country less rigid in ideas of class and ceremony than either England or France. The magazine was mostly concerned with fashion but did cover sports and social affairs for the male readership.
Condé Montrose Nast bought Vogue in 1905, just one year before Turnure died. Nast changed the magazine to bi-weekly and began taking it overseas beginning with Britain in 1916. He next brought the magazine to Spain, then Italy and France. The magazine flourished under Nast. Both the number printed and the profit margin increased. The magazine’s reputation also soared as they continued to target an elite audience. They began covering weddings in 1911.
The number of subscriptions rose during the Great Depression and again during World War II. They began to use photography rather than illustrations on their covers, bringing down the fashion illustration industry. By the 1960s, with Diana Vreeland as editor-in-chief, the magazine began to target the young men and women of the sexual revolution and focused on contemporary fashion and openly discussed sexuality in editorial features. In 1973, Vogue became a monthly magazine. Even so, they were able to make models household names via their wonderful photo spreads.
Anna Wintour took over the editor-in-chief job in July 1988. Her goal was to revitalize the product and make Vogue more in tune with the younger woman’s tastes as well as reach a broader audience. She remains at the helm today. As of March 1014, only five men have been on the cover of Vogue and all shared the space with a woman. The magazine has a total circulation of nearly 1.3 million and remains under the Condé Nast name. It is published in 23 different national and regional editions. Men’s Vogue came out in 2005 (and ceased publication in 2008) while Vogue Living was launched in 2006. There is also a Teen Vogue on the shelves.
Vogue is the best of everything that fashion can offer, and I think we point the way. We are, you know, a glamorous girlfriend.
I think possibly what people working for one hate the most is indecision. Even if I’m completely unsure, I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about and make a decision. The most important thing I can do is try and make myself very clearly understood.
It’s very important to take risks. I think that research is very important, but in the end you have to work from your instinct and feeling and take those risks and be fearless. When I hear a company is being run by a team, my heart sinks, because you need to have that leader with a vision and heart that can move things forward.
I want Vogue to be pacy, sharp, and sexy – I’m not interested in the super-rich or infinitely leisured. I want our readers to be energetic executive women, with money of their own and a wide range of interests. There is a new kind of woman out there. She’s interested in business and money. – all from Anna Wintour
Also on this day: Wilbur and Orville – In 1903, the brothers take the Wright Flyer up to the skies.
D’oh – In 1989, The Simpsons premiered.
Decree – In 1807, Napoleon I issued the Milan Decree.
Hot Time in the Old Town – In 1837, the Tsar’s home in St. Petersburg, the Winter Palace, caught fire.