100 years of Vogue: The photos behind the fashion | Lifestyle | DW | 12.02.2016
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100 years of Vogue: The photos behind the fashion

"Vogue" magazine turns 100 in the UK and the National Portrait Gallery in London looks back at the photography that has defined how we view fashion. Discover 10 famous photographers who've shaped the magazine's style.

In the UK, "Vogue" magazine is celebrating its centennial - reason enough for a special exhibition at the London National Portrait Gallery.

The publication stands for glamour like none other and being pictured in it as a model, or having your picture in it as a fashion photographer, is a coveted status symbol. From Irving Penny to Peter Lindbergh or Karl Lagerfeld, the who's who of the fashion world have all left their mark on "Vogue."

The magazine, however, is actually older than 100 years. American businessman Arthur Baldwin Turnure founded "Vogue" in New York City in 1892. It started off as a weekly publication for fashion, society and lifestyle. It would later include sketches of the latest styles and fashion tips for the upper-class and set the latest clothing trends.

After Turnure's death, his sister-in-law Marie Harrison - then the editor-in-chief - took over the magazine to the chagrin of French-German businessman Condé Nast. He'd been eyeing it for quite some time and had tried to negotiate with Turnure up until the latter's death.

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Celebrating 'Vogue'

It wasn't until 1909 that Nast would finally come into possession of "Vogue." Fashion sketches were soon replaced with photographs. And another major change took place: The magazine was only published every 14 days, rather than weekly. The price was raised and its major target group was more clearly put into focus: women.

One thing remained the same: The editor-in-chief has always been female. Early on, it was Josephine Redding. For the past 20 years, Anna Wintour has taken the job. As the most influential woman in the fashion scene, she also served as the inspiration for the 2006 film "The Devil Wears Prada," starring Oscar-winner Meryl Streep.

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Copyright: picture alliance/empics/A. Gowthorpe

Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour

According to Wintour, having your own vision is more important than worrying about the competition - a mantra that's proven successful for her.

The British edition of "Vogue" appeared nearly a quarter-century after the magazine was founded in the US - its first international launch. Twelve years later, the German edition was born. The Great Depression hindered its initial success, and a second German launch was attempted 50 years later.

With the founding of the Condé Nast Verlag publishing house in Munich in 1978, "Vogue" was finally up and running in Germany. By this time, the magazine had long since conquered the fashion world with its iconic high-gloss cover photos.

The German edition of "Vogue," under editor-in-chief Christiane Arp, is known for elaborate, multiple-page fashion spreads featuring pompous shoots.

The mother of all fashion magazines is now available in over 20 countries - all with the same motto: "Before it's in fashion, it's in Vogue."

The exhibition in the London National Portrait Gallery, "Vogue 100," runs through May 22, 2016.

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