A Century of Style

Vogue. One word, one magazine. The impact? Monumental. In true Vogue style, the iconic magazine has its very own exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery, open to the public from 11th February – 22nd May 2016.

The Exhibition, Vogue 100: A Century of Style, showcases the remarkable range of photography that has been commissioned by British Vogue since it was founded in 1916. It’s not just about mounted black and white pictures; the walls are adorned with vintage prints and working documents with a story to tell, with each and every photograph labelled by title and description - the unnoticed becomes noticed.

With 287 images and copies on display, as well as work from 78 photographers and illustrators, the exquisite exhibition takes you on a magnificent journey from the current day affair to the birth of this iconic magazine.

2000 and onwards: Darkness Falls and Where Are We Now?

A new millennium, a new world yet Vogue is still at the forefront of new fashion. Kick-starting the decade with the brilliant mind of Alexander McQueen, the magazine noted the accelerating movement of life itself, capturing the internet, social networking and international affairs. Gwyneth Paltrow, Gisele Bündchen and Kate Moss graced the glossy pages in this decade.

1990 – 1999: Broken Glamour

The ‘90s, the decade that Vogue turned 75. The exhibition walls hold Kate Moss’s first cover shoot in ‘93 and that iconic shoot with Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford – the supermodel movement was born. Mario Testino’s ground-breaking photography and the revival of high glamour was balanced by the reappearance of cultural reportage style pieces.

1980 – 1989: The Speed of Life

’80s Britain was going through a huge cultural shift. To reflect, Vogues pages depicted the air of ‘power dressing’ and the nation’s love for Princess Diana shone through the magazine which carried through to the next era especially. The word ‘designer’ became globally acclaimed, whilst Karl Lagerfeld was appointed to revive Chanel in 1983. It was known to many as the decade of the ‘image-conscious.’

I am passionately interested in fashion. It brings both pleasure and it brings jobs - Margaret Thatcher

1970 – 1979: Pressure Drop

The decade that television acquired a hold over Britain and captivated the nation. Photographers Guy Bordin and Helmut Newton captured the Britain’s small-screen addiction through innovative shoots and once again, Vogue became the epicentre of reflecting the new cultural shift in Britain.

Vogue looked for meaning in the punk explosion, its slogans hand-drawn on T-shirts and spray painted onto inner-city walls.

1960 – 1969: The Pulse Is Swinging London

Mick Jagger, Jean Shrimpton, The Beatles, and the ‘phenomenon of the century’ - aka Twiggy. It’s safe to say this decade was dominated by a young and fresh culture, captured artistically in the pages of Vogue. The '60s room in the exhibition, with mustard painted walls, displays David Bailey’s infamous ‘Top Coats’ shoot with Jean Shrimpton, whilst the teared and cracked copies of vintage photography beautifully capture an edition of a '60s Vogue.

1950 – 1959: A Visionary Gleam

Post-war Vogue represented a feeling of social equality, as photography by Norman Parkinson emphasised traditional values and was all about Britain moving forward. These shots were articulately juxtaposed with photography from Anthony Armstrong-Jones who implied a playful and rule-breaking style.

We believe in an independent fashion for the young … a clean an uncluttered look, witty rather frivolous, practical and yet not incapable of fantasy. - Vogue 1953

1940 – 1949: Preserving the Art of Peace

The significance of Vogue's social influence came to light in this decade. When extra paper supplies were secured, despite strict rations, the magazine carried on with a distinct influence on the “morale of the home front”. The decade when Vogue went from a fortnightly publication to a monthly, the magazine evolved into a journal of war through a photographer’s eye.

1930 – 1939: Glorious Twilight

Shadow, Silhouette and Studio - Vogue was cementing its position as the forefront of new fashion. Edward Steichen’s work reflected a ‘glamorised culture’ which hadn’t previously been seen in magazines at that time. George Hoyningen-Heune’s work, renowned for his use of studio lighting, is simultaneously reflected in the contoured lines of the exhibition walls which truly brings the decade to life.

1916 – 1929: How One Lives

This is the decade that Vogue was born. The Art Deco inspired room of the exhibition is home to some of the earliest vintage prints. The first lady, Eileen Wellesley, captured by E.P Hoppe, hangs graciously, faded and worn. It dates back to the magazine’s third issue when the London office was merely a stairwell in Fleet Street.

If Vogue has taught us one thing, it’s that Fashion photography is not just about clothes, and Vogue is not just about fashion. It’s about the human beings, the figures that have shaped an understanding of the world and cultural history. The exhibition reflects that journey – Vogue, as working magazine. A journey that we encourage you to take.