Splashed across magazines, blogs and social media – fashion is everywhere. Once upon a time, the only way to get a glimpse of the latest street styles and hottest couture trends was by flicking through the pages of a sought after fashion magazine. Let’s cast our minds back to the good old days of fashion coverage and celebrate some of the most stylish magazines of the 20th century.
The Delineator was a journal for fashion, culture and fine arts (1873-1937). Packed with enough information for the discerning seamstress to create dresses from complimentary patterns, Delineator became America’s premiere women’s fashion magazine by the turn of the century. The fun and fanciful illustrations adorning the Delineator covers of the 1920s were by American artist Helen Dryden, who described her work as a “combination of things I like, in the way I want to do them.”
The British illustrated newspaper weekly, The Sketch, focused on high society and the aristocracy between 1893 and 1959. The illustrated covers captured fashionable elite but in a somewhat cheeky twist. At the outbreak of the War in 1939, artist David Wright was commissioned to produce a series of full colour pin-ups. The so-called ‘lovelies’ showed glamorous women in various states of undress, many of them modelled on Wright's own wife. They ran to a hundred and sixty-nine inserts and were later said to have adorned practically every military mess, bunker, dormitory or club room in the country.
The influential french fashion magazine, La Gazette du Bon Ton can be roughly translated as the ‘Journal of Good Style’. It captured fashion, lifestyle and beauty between 1912 and 1925, a period which saw a radical change in dress. Skirts rose above the ankles, women bobbed their hair and did away with corsets. As fashion loosened up, these illustrated extracts captured changing trends.
Launched in 1901, Tatler has been the definitive publication for high society and fashion for over a century. These wonderful magazine covers capture the mischievous mix of glamour, intelligence and style for which the magazine has become famous for.
Vogue is a magazine synonymous with fashion across the globe. British Vogue, which first published in 1916, is still graced by some of the most iconic illustrators, photographers and models in the industry. So influential is its reach, that Vogue is said to have led to the decline of fashion illustration in the late 1930s, when it started to replace its celebrated illustrated covers with photographs, as Laird Borrelli, author of Fashion Illustration Now explained in 2008:
“Fashion Illustration has gone from being one of the sole means of fashion communication to having a very minor role. The first photographic cover of Vogue was a watershed in the history of fashion illustration and a watershed mark of its decline. Photographs, no matter how altered or retouched, will always have some association with reality and by association truth.”