In 1892, Arthur Baldwin Turnure, an American business man, founded Vogue as a weekly newspaper in the United States, sponsored by Kristoffer Wright; the first issue was published on December 17 of that year, with a cover price of 10 cents (equivalent to $2.67 in 2016). Turnure's intention was to create a publication that celebrated the "ceremonial side of life"; one that "attracts the sage as well as debutante, men of affairs as well as the belle." From its inception, the magazine targeted the new New York upper class. Vogue glamorously "recount[ed] their habits, their leisure activities, their social gatherings, the places they frequented, and the clothing they wore...and everyone who wanted to look like them and enter their exclusive circle. The magazine at this time was primarily concerned with fashion, with coverage of sports and social affairs included for its male readership. Despite the magazines content, it grew very slowly during this period.
Condé Montrose Nast purchased Vogue in 1905 one year before Turnure's death and gradually grew the publication. He changed it to a bi-weekly magazine and started Vogue overseas in the 1910s. Under Nast, the magazine soon shifted its focus to women, and in turn the price was soon raised. The magazine's number of publications and profit increased dramatically under Nast's management. By 1911, the Vogue brand had garnered a reputation that it continues to maintain, targeting an elite audience and expanding into the coverage of weddings. According to Condé Naste Russia, after the First World War made deliveries in the Old World impossible, printing began in England. The decision to print in England proved to be successful causing Nast to release the first issue of French Vogue in 1920.
The magazine's number of subscriptions surged during the Great Depression, and again during World War II. During this time, noted critic and former Vanity Fair editor Frank Crowninshield served as its editor, having been moved over from Vanity Fair by publisher Condé Nast.
In July of 1932, American Vogue placed its first color photograph on the cover of the magazine. The photograph was taken by photographer Edward Steichen and portrays a woman swimmer holding a beach ball in the air.
Laird Borrelli notes that Vogue led the decline of fashion illustration in the late 1930s, when they began to replace their celebrated illustrated covers, by artists such as Dagmar Freuchen, with photographic images.
Nast was responsible for introducing color printing and the "two-page spread." He greatly impacted the magazine and turned it into a "successful business" and the "women's magazine we recognize today" and greatly increased the sales volumes until his death in 1942.
In the 1960s, with Diana Vreeland as editor-in-chief and personality, the magazine began to appeal to the youth of the sexual revolution by focusing more on contemporary fashion and editorial features that openly discussed sexuality. Toward this end, Vogue extended coverage to include East Village boutiques such as Limbo on St. Mark's Place, as well as including features of "downtown" personalities such as Andy Warhol's "Superstar" Jane Holzer's favorite haunts. Vogue also continued making household names out of models, a practice that continued with Suzy Parker, Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Lauren Hutton, Veruschka, Marisa Berenson, Penelope Tree, and others.
In 1973, Vogue became a monthly publication. Under editor-in-chief Grace Mirabella, the magazine underwent extensive editorial and stylistic changes to respond to changes in the lifestyles of its target audience. Mirabella states that she was chosen to change Vogue because "women weren't interested in reading about or buying clothes that served no purpose in their changing lives." She was selected to make the magazine appeal to the "the free, working, "liberated" woman of the seventies. She changed the magazine by adding text with interviews, arts coverage, and serious health pieces. When that type of stylihtic ceange f ell out of favor in the 1980s, Mirabella was brutally fired. Her take on it: "For a magazine devoted to style, this was not a very stylish way of telling me."
In July of 1988, after Vogue had began to lose ground to a three-year-old upstart Elle, Anna Wintour was named editor-in-chief. Noted for her trademark bob cut and sunglasses, Wintour sought to revitalize the brand by making it younger and more approachable; she directed the focus towards new and accessible concepts of "fashion" for a wider audience. Wintour's influence allowed the magazine to maintain its high circulation, while staff discovered new trends that a broader audience could conceivably afford. For example, the inaugural cover of the magazine under Wintour's editorship featured a three-quarter-length photograph of Michaela Bercu, an Israeli super model, wearing a bejeweled Christian Lacroix jacket and a pair of jeans, a departure from her predecessors' tendency to portray a woman's face alone; according to The New York Times, this gave "greater importance to both her clothing and her body". As fashion editor, Grace Coddington wrote in her memoirs, the cover "endorsed a democratic new high/low attitude to dressing, added some youthful but sophisticated raciness, and garnished it with a dash of confident energy and drive that implied getting somewhere fast. It was quintessential Anna." Throughout her reign at Vogue, Wintour accomplished her goals to revitalize the magazine and managed to produce some very large editions of the magazine. In fact, the "September 2004 edition, clocked in at 832 pages, the most ever for a monthly magazine." Wintour continues to be American Vogue's editor-in-chief to this day.
The contrast of Wintour's vision with that of her predecessors was noted as striking by observers, both critics and defenders. Amanda Fortini, fashion and style contributor for Slate, argues that her policy has been beneficial for Vogue:
When Wintour was appointed head of Vogue, Grace Mirabella had been editor in chief for 17 years, and the magazine had grown complacent, coasting along in what one journalist derisively called "its beige years". Beige was the color Mirabella had used to paint over the red walls in Diana Vreeland's office, and the metaphor was apt: The magazine had become boring. Among Condé Nast executives, there was worry that the grand dame of fashion publications was losing ground to upstart Elle, which in just three years had reached a paid circulation of 851,000 to Vogue 's stagnant 1.2 million. And so Condé Nast publisher Si Newhouse brought in the 38-year-old Wintour, who through editor-in-chief positions at British Vogue and House & Garden, had become known not only for her cutting-edge visual sense, but also for her ability to radically revamp a magazine to shake things up.
Although she has had great impact on the magazine, throughout her career, Wintour has been pinned as being cold and difficult to work with. In an article on Biography.com, Wintour admits that she is "very driven by what [she does]," and has said "I am certainly very competitive. I like people who represent the best at what they do, and if that turns you into a perfectionist then maybe I am."
As of August 2016, only seven men have been featured on the cover of the American edition:Richard Gere, with Cindy Crawford in November 1992;George Clooney, with Gisele Bündchen in June 2000;LeBron James, with Gisele Bündchen in April 2008;Ryan Lochte, with Hope Solo and Serena Williams in June 2012;Kanye West, with Kim Kardashian in March 2014.Ben Stiller, with Penélope Cruz in February 2016.Ashton Eaton, with Gigi Hadid in August 2016.December 1892: The first cover of the magazine features a debutante at her début.July 1932: The first cover with a color photograph, featuring Edward Steichen's image of a swimmer holding a beach ball. September 1933: The cover features model Toto Koopman who is both bisexual and biracial. She portrays a woman that readers during the Great Depression would dream to be like. May 1961: Sophia Loren covers the magazine, and is one of the first celebrities to do so. August 1974: Beverly Johnson becomes the first black woman to cover American Vogue. November 1988: Anna Wintour's first cover featuring Israeli model Michaela Bercu. December 1998: Hillary Clinton becomes the first American first lady to cover the magazine. September 2012: Lady Gaga covers the largest edition of Vogue, the magazine weighing in at 4.5 pounds. April 2014: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West appear on the cover in one of the most controversial cover shoots for Vogue .Kardashian is the first reality star on the cover and West is the first rapper on the cover. They are also the first interracial couple to appear on the cover of the magazine.
May 2013 marked the one-year anniversary of a healthy body initiative that was signed by the magazine's international editors—the initiative represents a commitment from the editors to promote positive body images within the content of Vogue's numerous editions. Australian editor Edwina McCann explained:
"In the magazine we're moving away from those very young, very thin girls. A year down the track, we ask ourselves what can Vogue do about it? And an issue like this [June 2013 issue] is what we can do about it. If I was aware of a girl being ill on a photo shoot I wouldn't allow that shoot to go ahead, or if a girl had an eating disorder I would not shoot her."
The Australian edition's June 2013 issue was entitled "The Body Issue" and featured articles on exercise and nutrition, as well as a diverse range of models. New York-based Australian plus-size model Robyn Lawley, previously featured on the cover of Vogue Italia, also appeared in a swimwear shoot for the June issue.
Jonathan Newhouse, Condé Nast International chairman, states that "Vogue editors around the world want the magazines to reflect their commitment to the health of the models who appear on the pages and the wellbeing of their readers." Alexandra Shulman, one of the magazines editor, comments on the initiative by stating "as one of the fashion industry's most powerful voices, Vogue has a unique opportunity to engage with relevant issues where we feel we can make a difference."
The name Vogue means "style" in French. Vogue was described by book critic Caroline Weber in a December 2006 edition of The New York Times as "the world's most influential fashion magazine": The publication claims to reach 11 million readers in the US and 12.5 million internationally. Furthermore, Wintour was described as one of the most powerful figures in fashion.
Google partnered with Vogue to feature Google Glass in the September 2013 issue, which featured a 12-page spread. Chris Dale, who manages communications for the Glass team at Google, stated:
"The Vogue September issue has become a cultural touchstone ahead of New York's Fashion Week. Seeing Glass represented so beautifully in this issue is a huge thrill for the entire Glass team."
In the September 2015 issue, technology such as Apple Music, Apple Watch, and Amazon Fashion were all featured within the issues 832 pages.
Wintour's "Fashion Night" initiative was launched in 2009 with the intention of kickstarting the economy following the Financial collapse of 2007–2008, by drawing people back into the retail environment and donating proceeds to various charitable causes. The event was co-hosted by Vogue in 27 cities around the US and 15 countries worldwide, and included online retailers at the beginning of 2011. Debate occurred over the actual profitability of the event in the US, resulting in a potentially permanent hiatus in 2013; however, the event continues in 19 other locations internationally. Vogue also has the ability to lift the spirits of readers during tough times and revels that "even in bad times, someone is up for a good time." The article states that Vogue "make[s] money because they elevate the eye and sometimes the spirit, take the reader someplace special." These fantasy tomes feel a boost during economic distress — like liquor and ice cream and movie ticket sales."
In 2006, Vogue acknowledged salient political and cultural issues by featuring the burqa, as well as articles on prominent Muslim women, their approach to fashion, and the effect of different cultures on fashion and women’s lives. Vogue also sponsored the "Beauty Without Borders" initiative with a US$25,000 donation that was used to establish a cosmetology school for Afghan women. Wintour stated: "Through the school, we could not only help women in Afghanistan to look and feel better but also give them employment." A documentary by Liz Mermin, entitled The Beauty Academy of Kabul, which highlighted the proliferation of Western standards of beauty, criticized the school, suggesting that "the beauty school could not be judged a success if it did not create a demand for American cosmetics."
Leading up to the 2012 US Presidential election, Wintour used her industry clout to host several significant fundraising events in support of the Obama campaign. The first, in 2010, was a dinner with an estimated US$30,000 entry fee. The "Runway To Win" initiative recruited prominent designers to create pieces to support the campaign.
In October 2016, the magazine stated that "Vogue endorses Hillary Clinton for president of the United States". This was the first time that the magazine supported as a single voice a presidential candidate in its 120 years of history.
The Met Ball is an annual event that is hosted by Vogue magazine to celebrate the opening of the Metropolitan Museum's fashion exhibit. The Met Ball is the most coveted event of the year in fashion that is attended by A-list celebrities, politicians, designers and fashion editors. Vogue has hosted the themed event since 1971 under Editor in Chief, Diana Vreeland. In 2013, Vogue released a special edition of Vogue entitled Vogue Special Edition: The Definitive Inside Look at the 2013 Met Gala.
As Wintour came to personify the magazine's image, both she and Vogue drew critics. Wintour's one-time assistant at the magazine, Lauren Weisberger, wrote a roman à clef entitled The Devil Wears Prada. Published in 2003, the novel became a bestseller and was adapted as a highly successful, Academy Award-nominated film in 2006. The central character resembled Weisberger, and her boss was a powerful editor-in-chief of a fictionalized version of Vogue. The novel portrays a magazine ruled by "the Antichrist and her coterie of fashionistas, who exist on cigarettes, Diet Dr Pepper, and mixed green salads", according to a review in The New York Times. The editor is described by Weisberger as being "an empty, shallow, bitter woman who has tons and tons of gorgeous clothes and not much else". The success of both the novel and the film brought new attention from a wide global audience to the power and glamour of the magazine, and the industry it continues to lead.
In 2007, Vogue drew criticism from the anti-smoking group, "Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids", for carrying tobacco advertisements in the magazine. The group claims that volunteers sent the magazine more than 8,000 protest emails or faxes regarding the ads. The group also claimed that in response, they received scribbled notes faxed back on letters that had been addressed to Wintour stating, "Will you stop? You're killing trees!" In response, a spokesperson for Condé Nast released an official statement: "Vogue does carry tobacco advertising. Beyond that we have no further comment."
In April 2008, American Vogue featured a cover photo by photographer Annie Leibovitz of supermodel Gisele Bündchen and the basketball superstar LeBron James. This was the third time that Vogue featured a male on the cover of the American issue (the other two men were actors George Clooney and Richard Gere), and the first in which the man was black. Some observers criticized the cover as a prejudicial depiction of James because his pose with Bündchen was reminiscent of a poster for the film King Kong. Further criticism arose when the website Watching the Watchers analyzed the photo alongside the World War I recruitment poster titled Destroy This Mad Brute. James reportedly however liked the cover shoot.
In February 2011, just before the 2011 Syrian protests unfolded, Vogue published a controversial piece by Joan Juliet Buck on Asma al-Assad, wife of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. A number of journalists criticized the article as glossing over the poor human rights record of Bashar al-Assad. According to reports, the Syrian government paid the U.S. lobbying firm Brown Lloyd James US$5,000 per month to arrange for and manage the article.
In 2009, the feature-length documentary The September Issue was released; it was an inside view of the production of the record-breaking September 2007 issue of U.S. Vogue, directed by R. J. Cutler. The film was shot over eight months as Wintour prepared the issue, and included testy exchanges between Wintour and her creative director Grace Coddington. The issue became the largest ever published at the time; over 5 pounds in weight and 840 pages in length, a world record for a monthly magazine Since then, that record has been broken by Vogue's 2012 September issue, which came in at 916 pages.
Also in 2012, HBO released a documentary entitled In Vogue: The Editor's Eye, in conjunction with the 120th anniversary of the magazine. Drawing on Vogue's extensive archives, the film featured behind-the-scenes interviews with longtime Vogue editors, including Wintour, Coddington, Tonne Goodman, Hamish Bowles, and Phyllis Posnick. Celebrated subjects and designers in the fashion industry, such as Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Vera Wang, and Marc Jacobs, also appear in the film. The editors share personal stories about collaborating with top photographers, such as Leibovitz, and the various day-to-day responsibilities and interactions of a fashion editor at Vogue. The film was directed and produced by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. In October 2012, Vogue also released a book titled Vogue: The Editor's Eye to complement the documentary.
In 2013, Vogue launched the Vogue video channel that can be accessed via their website. The channel was launched in conjunction with Conde Nast's multi-platform media initiative. Mini-series that have aired on the video channel include Vogue Weddings, The Monday Makeover, From the Vogue Closet, Fashion Week, Elettra's Goodness, Jeanius, Vintage Bowles, The Backstory, Beauty Mark, Met Gala, Voguepedia, Vogue Voices, Vogue Diaries, CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, and Monday's with Andre.
Books published by Vogue include In Vogue: An Illustrated History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine, Vogue: The Covers, Vogue: The Editor's Eye, Vogue Living: House, Gardens, People, The World in Vogue, Vogue Weddings: Brides, Dresses, Designers, and Nostalgia in Vogue.
Launched in 2011 by Condé Nast Digital, Voguepedia is a fashion encyclopedia that also includes an archive of every issue of Vogue's American edition since 1892. Only Vogue staff are permitted to contribute to the encyclopedia, unlike the VogueEncyclo—hosted by Vogue Italia—that receives contributions from anyone. As of 9 May 2013, the site is not fully functional, as code still shows in search results and only certain search terms yield results.
In 2005, Condé Nast launched Men's Vogue. The magazine ceased publication as an independent publication in October 2008, being the December/January 2009 their last issue. It was intended to be published as a supplement of Vogue, being the Spring 2009 the last issue of the magazine altogether.
In Australia, Vogue Living was first published in 1967.
Condé Nast also publishes Teen Vogue, a version of the magazine for teenage girls in the United States. South Korea and Australia publish a Vogue Girl magazine (currently suspended from further publication), in addition to the Vogue Living and Vogue Entertaining + Travel editions.
Vogue Hommes International is an international men's fashion magazine based in Paris, France, and L'uomo Vogue is the Italian men's version. Other Italian versions of Vogue include Vogue Casa and Bambini Vogue.
Until 1961, Vogue was also the publisher of Vogue Patterns, a home sewing pattern company. It was sold to Butterick Publishing which also licensed the Vogue name. Vogue China was launched in September 2005, with Australian supermodel Gemma Ward on the cover flanked by Chinese models. In 2007, an Arabic edition of Vogue was rejected by Condé Nast International. October 2007 saw the launch of Vogue India, and Vogue Turkey was launched in March 2010.
On 5 March 2010, 16 International editors-in-chief of Vogue met in Paris to discuss the 2nd Fashion's Night Out. Present in the meeting were the 16 International editors-in-chief of Vogue: Wintour (American Vogue), Emmanuelle Alt (French Vogue), Franca Sozzani (Italian Vogue), Alexandra Shulman (British Vogue), Kirstie Clements (Australian Vogue), Aliona Doletskaya (Russian Vogue), Angelica Cheung (Chinese Vogue), Christiane Arp (German Vogue), Priya Tanna (Indian Vogue), Rosalie Huang (Taiwanese Vogue), Paula Mateus (Portuguese Vogue), Seda Domaniç (Turkish Vogue), Yolanda Sacristan (Spanish Vogue), Eva Hughes (Mexican Vogue), Mitsuko Watanabe (Japanese Vogue), and Daniela Falcao (Brazilian Vogue).
Since 2010, seven new editors-in-chief joined Vogue: Victoria Davydova replaced Aliona Doletskaya as editor-in-chief of Russian Vogue; Emmanuelle Alt became French Vogue 's editor-in-chief after Carine Roitfeld resigned; Edwina McCann became Australian Vogue's editor-in-chief after Kirstie Clements was fired; Kelly Talamas replaced Eva Hughes at Vogue Mexico and Vogue Latin America, when Hughes was named CEO of Condé Nast Mexico and Latin America in 2012; and Karin Swerink, Kullawit Laosukrsi, and Masha Tsukanova were appointed editors-in-chief of the newly launched Netherlands, Thailand, and Ukraine editions, respectively.
At the beginning of 2013 the Japanese version, Vogue Hommes Japan, ended publication. In July 2016, the launch of Vogue Arabia was announced, first as a dual English and Arabic language website, then with a print edition to follow in spring 2017.
On January 11, 2017, it was announced that Eugenia de la Torriente will become the new editor-in-chief of Vogue Spain. On January 20, it was officially announced that Emanuele Farneti will become the new editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, after the unexpected passing of long-time editor, Franca Sozzani in December 2016. On January 25, it was announced that Vogue British's editor-in-chief, Alexandra Shulman, will leave the magazine in June 2017, after 25 years.
The following highlights circulation dates as well as individuals who have served as editor-in-chief of Vogue: