Vogue cover stars at Chelsea Library

Launched with a front cover of a pretty, understated illustration of a puppet theatre, complete with glamorous lady puppets in the latest Autumn fashions, British Vogue’s success story started in 1916. The magazine soon grew to epitomise glamour, style, and luxury. With its tantalising glimpses of how the Other Half live, Vogue is a landmark in the magazine world. Chelsea Library’s fashion and costume collection boasts a nearly complete run of this iconic title from 1923 to the present day.

Vogue’s first photographic cover was in 1932: before then, delicate illustrations graced the front page, as you can see by our 1923 Summer Collections cover, complete with pretty lady sheltering from the seasonal English weather, below…

Vogue 1923
Vogue 1923

 As an introduction to the depth and range of our Vogue collection, here’s a quick look at some iconic front covers, and the famous faces that graced them…

Jean Shrimpton (“the Shrimp”) and David Bailey, one of the most famous model/photogapher partnerships of all time, did many covershoots for Vogue throughout the 60s. Here is Shrimpton’s first:  feminine and a little coy, it shows one blue eye peeking out from under the brim of a daisy-covered hat:

Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, Vogue 1962
Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, Vogue 1962

As one of the most famous models of that era, Shrimpton did a number of covers for Vogue that decade. This 1964 issue was in celebration of all things British (with Shrimpton pointing out helpfully that she “May not look like a Board of Trade official”…)

Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, Vogue 1964
Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, Vogue1964

And another cover, from 1962, with Shrimpton reclining in a car, cosily wrapped in mohair:

Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, Vogue 1962
Jean Shrimpton by David Bailey, Vogue 1962

Twiggy did two Vogue covers, on in 1967 and one in 1974. The ’74 cover sees her in pantomine-esque makeup and a little-girl-lost look (she was playing Cinderella for the Christmas issue):

Twiggy, Vogue, 1974
Twiggy, Vogue, 1974

March 1966 saw another notable face on the cover of Vogue, this time in the form of American model Donyale Luna. Luna was Vogue’s first covergirl of mixed ethnic origin, with, according to Vogue’s online archive, an indigenous-Mexican, Indonesian, Irish and African background. Here she is on the cover:

Donyale Luna, Vogue 1966

And here she is again, strutting her stuff on an  inside double-spread, for that year’s international collections:

Donyale Luna in Vogue, 1966

The 1980s was the decade of the supermodel. Here is a laughing teenager from South London, making the first of eight appearances on the cover…

Naomi Campbell, Vogue, 1987
Naomi Campbell, Vogue, 1987

And we all know who this is:

Kate Moss first cover
Kate Moss for her first (but by no means last) cover for Vogue, 1993

Kate Moss, then a fresh-faced teenager from Croydon, wearing Chanel as if born to it. It’s interesting to see how much “busier”  Vogue covers have become, from works of art with an illustration or photo and a single enigmatic caption, to chattier covers with features and articles enticingly indicated through one-liners.  

Moss has had a total of 30 Vogue covers, which brings us bang up-to-date with June 2012, where she can be found wearing white and gold, draped alluringly over a length of rope.       

Kate Moss cover #2
Kate Moss, Vogue, 2012

All our Vogues are bound and available on open access. They offer a fascinating insight to society, taste and culture throughout the decades, and we will be re-visiting them in this blog soon…

  • Muir Robin, and Derrick, Robin (eds), Vogue Covers: on fashion’s front page, Great Britain, (Little, Brown) 2009

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