Vogue magazine is a celebration of unfolding history through the lens of style, and the unrivaled barometer for real-time consumer desires. It unites 24.4 million readers globally, and 42 million unique monthly online users. For over 123 years, Vogue has been the consistent voice of authority over the vicissitudes of the trend treadmill, sustained by hundreds of editors, assistants, photographers, and models. Over the years however, many surprising facts about its inner workings have been lost under the sheer volume of printed editions.
Raise your Vogue IQ with 15 surprising facts about the world’s favorite fashion magazine:
New York, December 17th, 1892: the auspicious debut issue of Vogue hit newsstands for a mere US $0.10, primarily targeted to “men of affairs.”
Prolific publisher, Condé Montrose Nast bought the magazine in 1905, and flipped the production cycle of Vogue from weekly to bi-weekly. The title didn’t become a monthly until 1973.
The longest-standing Chief Editor of American Vogue, Edna Woolman Chase, held the post from 1914-1952; she started her career at Vogue working in the mailroom. Chase insisted that her staff wear black silk stockings and open-toed shoes to the office.
Approaches to covers have changed dramatically over the years at Vogue, from Edward Steichen’s first photographic color cover in 1932, to Salvador Dalí’s signature surrealist, dystopian landscape. The title delights in offering an element of surprise.
The penthouse apartment in the 1936 film Wife Vs. Secretary, starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow, belonged to Nast. Fitting or circumstance? Gable played the role of Van, a high-flying publishing executive living in the apartment.
British Vogue is the second edition to launch and was referred to in-house as Brogue; closely followed by the French edition, referred to by staff as Frogue. Fortunately, those titles didn’t stick.
“In an average issue there are over 400 images,” states British Vogue Editor, Alexandra Shulman in Unseen Vogue: The Secret History of Fashion Photography (Little Brown, 2002). From Cecil Beaton to Mario Testino and Norman Parkinson, Vogue has helped ‘make’ the careers of photographers.
American Vogue Editor Diana Vreeland booked the most expensive shoot in fashion history, featuring ‘60s It-girl Veruschka Von Lehndorff, photographed by Richard Avedon. Including fifteen trunks of clothes, over five weeks in Japan, it is rumoured to have cost one million US dollars, which is equivalent to seven million today.
Model Beverly Johnson, who rose to fame from her debut cover, was not the first ever black model to appear on a Vogue cover. Eight years prior to Johnson’s American Vogue August cover story, Andy Warhol’s muse, Donyale Luna, was featured on the 1966 March issue of British Vogue, photographed by David Bailey.
Dr. Mehemed Fehny Agha is a name to know in the Vogue history books. The Turkish Art Director revolutionized the aesthetic of glossy magazines laterally. With an emphasis on crisp, clean constructivism, Agha removed borders from covers, favored sans serif fonts, and developed a stronger interplay between images and text.
In September 2005, Vogue China launched with Australian model Gemma Ward as its cover girl, flanked by Chinese models. The title has grown its readership to 1,361,288 since its launch.
There are 22 editions of Vogue (including Vogue Arabia) from Japan, to Ukraine, and beyond. Cover girls are booked independently to each title with the zeitgeist of culture as its constant subject. Kate Moss has a Vogue cover ranking of 60+ (27 for British Vogue alone) and counting. But did you know that Gigi Hadid has been featured on 16 international cover editions in a mere 12 months? Jean Shrimpton holds 20 American Vogue covers to her name, with her most iconic shoot captured by photographer William Klein for the April edition, in 1963.
The Vogue Men hall of fame is lined with dapper gentlemen, but in prime place sits Richard Gere—the first of seven men to star on the cover. Gere was joined by original super Cindy Crawford (his wife at the time) for the November issue, 1992. Eight years later, George Clooney joined the fold, followed by Lebron James, and then Olympic-medal-winnner Ryan Lochte.
7,925,208: The current number of Vogue hashtags on Instagram.
October 25th, 2016, Vogue Arabia launches. Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz is appointed Editor-in-Chief of the 22nd edition of the magazine. In March 2017, the print edition of Vogue Arabia launches. Today, the future of fashion lands in the Arab world; its unfolding history is yours.