Vogue Magazine
magazine journalism course


  Last updated: May 2009 (Elspeth Monk)

Vogue is published by Conde Nast publications in eighteen countries. Originally an American publication, the magazine first came to Britain in 1916 under the leadership of Elspeth Champcommunal. British Vogue was the first overseas Vogue publication.

The magazine was always popular, but saw a surge of subscriptions after the Depression and again after World War II. The magazine developed in the 1960’s, with Diana Vreeland as editor-in-chief. The magazine began to appeal to the youth of that era by focusing more on contemporary fashion and editorial features openly discussing sexuality. Vogue also continued making household names out of models, a practice that continued with models such as Suzy Parker and Twiggy, a trend which continues today.

Since joining Vogue in the late 1980’s, Editor Anna Wintour has worked to protect the magazine's status and reputation among fashion publications. Wintour changed the focus of the magazine in order to do so. She focused on more accessible ideas of "fashion" to suit a wider audience. This allowed Wintour to keep a high circulation while discovering new trends that a broader audience could afford. Wintour also departed from her predecessors' tendency to portray a woman’s face alone on the front cover. This, according to the Times', gave "greater importance to both her clothing and her body.

Vogue’s target audience is females in their late twenties to thirties. Vogue is very successful in attracting its audience, resulting in continual high readership and as a result, does not widely try to appeal to other audiences, such as men. The features each month are very similar, and based around fashion, which is what appeals to its audience and is what the magazine is renowned for. Vogue is dissimilar to some other magazines, such as Marie Claire for its content. Each month Marie Claire has a variety of features which can appeal to many different audience types; including features on fashion and beauty, as well as harder hitting features about global problems and events.

Many of the women who read Vogue, particularly those perhaps who are not regular readers may buy Vogue for aspiration and distraction purposes. Although not being able to afford the clothes and products being advertised, it gives the reader something to aspire towards to, or perhaps give an insight into that lifestyle. While reading the magazine, the reader can feel as if they have more money, or live the model lifestyle, reading about the lives of Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Lily Cole and other models, is in December 2007’s issue.

To appeal to its different audiences, Vogue has produced additional publications, Men’s Vogue, Teen vogue and Vogue living, amongst others to cater for other audiences, rather than expanding its tradition Vogue to draw in a larger audience.

The photographs, as with most magazines, are of very high quality. The photographers Vogue uses will be experienced and highly sought after. The focus of the magazine’s photos is of the model’s clothes, so photographers do their best to make the clothes and the models look good. The reason many people buy magazines such as Vogue, is for the pictures. There is not a lot of written content in the magazine; only a few interviews and features, the majority is photos, therefore there is a need to maintain a high standard to maintain readership.

The relationship between Vogue and its photographers has changed over time. Photographers are wanted just as much by Vogue, as the photographers want their photos to be in Vogue. The photographs in fashion magazines have helped establish fashion photography as being a higher art form of photography, having not always been seen as proficiently as other forms of photography, such as portrait or natural landscape. The photography in Vogue, however, often incorporates elements of these types of photography, often shooting in glamorous locations which are included in the background to photos. Exhibition Unseen Vogue displayed photographer’s work not published in the magazine. Richard Carr claims that ‘Cecil Beaton's shots of land girl fashion, and Lee Miller's of fashions in Paris following its liberation from the Germans, provide wonderful documentary evidence of life at that time’, an example of the combination of landscape photography with fashion to produce art.

In December 2007’s ‘Glamorous’ issue of Vogue, Sienna Miller is featured on the front cover. This is an example of development, from Wintour and her predecessors, of the front cover photography. It is a full length shot, where the glamorous dress Miller is wearing can be seen. This helps demonstrate that it is a fashion magazine, and the glamour theme of that particular issue. The representation of Miller as a model also depicts the status that models and celebrities have in magazines. There is little separation between actresses (and other professions) and models. In Sienna Millers case, she is regarded as much as a model and style icon as for her acting. Although using a full body shot, Miller’s face is still a focal point. Her face overlaps the ‘G’ in the title, meaning the reader is instantly drawn to the face when looking at the title of the magazine. With the connotations Vogue has given off in the past, like many other magazines, the full title does not need to be shown in order for readers to know which magazine it is.

The title is a serif font; it makes it look more elegant and is in silver to coincide with the glamour theme. The barkers are in both serif and sans serif, the bold barkers are sans serif, aimed to stand out more, with the detail in serif.

The feature content of Vogue is spread amongst its adverts. If advertisements were all in one place the reader would be able to avoid reading them, which would not be attractive to advertisers, therefore Vogue would lose vast amounts of money. By having content advertised at the beginning, the reader needs to read or peruse through the magazine to find the content they wish to read.

Vogue’s advertising is highly desired by companies and the high revenue it generates is essential for the running of the magazine. Production costs are covered by sales, but the advertising generates profit. British Vogue is the most profitable British magazine, as well as the most profitable Vogue besides the US edition. In 2007, it ran 2,020 pages of advertising at an average of £16,000 a page and can cost up to £22,000 a page

Vogue relies on its advertising and needs to keep a good relationship with its companies. Editor Alexandra Shulman told journalism Lynn Barber, 'Vogue makes most of its money out of advertising - and it does make an awful lot of money - so we've got to have a good relationship with our advertisers. They're not going to place £100,000 a year and then say, "Feel free not to use any of our goods" - life's not like that. So although there is this feeling sometimes that creatively it's not pure, well - magazines are a business, you're not sitting there writing poetry.

All of the advertising is very suited to the magazine, complying with the context, and many of the audience. The companies and products being advertised are high market, particular the opening few pages of the magazine, with top end designer labels choosing to place their advertisements there; in December 2007’s issue the first twelve pages are taken up with advertisements for Ralph Lauren (which have a six page spread), Gucci and Estee Lauder. Advertising exclusively makes up the opening pages, before any other content or editorial. It is a highly desirable place in the magazine as it is the first pages readers view. Later on in the magazines, readers may skim through, missing many advertisements.

Vogue’s website offers many different features, more up to date than the magazine, as with the advantages of technology. Technological advances have enabled the magazine to upload regular stories and features, to keep readers interested and occupied until the next month’s magazine is published. Technology has also enabled Vogue to upload videos onto the site, something which the magazine obviously cannot do. There are competitions, blogs, and links to related sited to keep readers wanting more each day.


Vogue; December 2007

Vogue; September 2008

Barber, Lynn; February 2008; The Guardian; http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/feb/10/fashion.features1

Carr, Richard; http://www.studio-international.co.uk/reports/Unseen_Vogue.asp




This analysis was produced as part of the magazine journalism courses and modules on the MA journalism and BA journalism courses at the University of Winchester in the UK