Vogue 100: A Century of Style

‘Fashion changes but style endures’. Coco Channel’s famous maxim seems particularly apt when considering the centenary of British Vogue. From its origins during the First World War to its present-day guise in the digital era, the personalities contained in its pages and the photographers who captured them, ranging from Marlene Dietrich by Cecil Beaton to Kate Moss by Mario Testino, are an extraordinary portrait of their age and comprise a panoramic view of the last century.

 

 

Many cultivated people and artists were the protagonists of British Vogue and they constituted flagships of different eras. One of them was Virginia Woolf who was photographed in the November Vogue issue in 1924, passing on 2 years later to ‘The Art of the Party’ era where the ‘Gatsby’ girls made their appearances in the high society parties wearing pearls and iconic hats. It was that time when Elsa Maxwell spoke about the ‘snob society’ that had been shaped in the habitus of the elite. In particular, she stated that: ‘Snobs are curiously incapable of gaiety perhaps because gaiety comes from the soul and snobs only take their soul à la meunière’.  This statement confesses a different aspect of the fabulous life of the elite that period. However, Vogue was there and the best photographers depicted some of the most beautiful moments of this time.

As anyone can see, it is not only the political beliefs that shape the style of the women in each period but also the new ideas and the vision that some of the designers had. Many art forms like cinema, theatre and fashion magazines like Vogue created a different type of woman in each era. But all of the depicted women, in all of their periods, preserved their smartness and femininity. But not only in the conventional way. Vogue hosted some of the most ambivalent and powerful female figures in the history. In particular, the magazine photographed female leaders and dominant figures from Queen Elizabeth II, to Princess Diana, Margaret Butcher, Barbra Streisand and many others.

 

All in all British Vogue celebrated a century of style last year in 2016. It is interesting to note that the National Portrait Gallery in London made a spectacular exhibition for the 100 years of British Vogue and the curator of this exhibition was Robin Muir. There, all the iconic moments of the cultural history were represented through the photographs of the magazine and one could also see that the protagonists of the magazine were women from different eras, who served as role models in the society. The beauty of these photographs is that they stay alive as the time goes by and they can speak to you only with their magical aura….again, for one more time, life mimics art and vice versa…and the transformative power of art can be seen that it is deeply woven into the fabric of our lives.

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Women’s Body & Discipline Notions in the Consumerist Western World

Women's body notions in the consumerist western world

In modern life, it is common knowledge the fact that the female body within the consumer western world constitutes a multidimensional and important issue as far as the self- identity, social, historical, and political aspects are concerned. In particular, in a capitalist regime, a woman’s body is manipulated through disciplinary approaches which try to make it more useful, more multi-functional and more beautiful compared to the past.

Women in today’s world have to be beautiful, strong, intelligent, with developed skills and attitudes. They have to combine work, household chores, the raising of their children and be ‘sexy’ at the same time. That is why a ‘multi-functional body’ is demanded in our era.

 

vintage women's body

Furthermore, femininity is truly connected with the body. An example to support this argument is the Hollywood industry which supports the idea of ‘free-yourself’ through your body. In particular, Hollywood and the Media World have contributed to the construction of femininity through the celebrity idols, the cosmetic surgery programs they promote, like Nip Tuck, and series like Sex and the City. All these emphasize the importance of a ‘good’ body in a consumerist society, which is ready to be loved and appreciated by others.

Carrie Bradshaw bodynip tuck body standards

It is interesting to note that this ‘look good – feel good’ approach to life demonstrates the power that is given to the female body. For this reason, consumerism conveys the message that the more products the women buy, the more feminine, sexual and better their bodies will be. The body is, therefore, the tool for women to taste life and experience a brand new ‘hedonistic lifestyle’. The body of a woman can make her feel attractive, confident and she could be included in the category lifestyle of the ‘Martini people’.

According to the aforementioned, I could not help but wonder…has the patriarchal structure of the society that Christianity and others religions support really changed throughout the years? Or Consumerism and Neoliberalism still promote the male-dominated society by sexualising women through their bodies and making them feel accountable only when they accomplish what the advertisements say….?  The only thing that is unquestionable is that femininity which is expressed through the body constitutes a social construct….thus as Simone De Beauvoir once said: ‘ A woman’s body is her situation, not her destiny’.

This ‘destiny’ is defined by the people and their culture…but ultimately what is really worth to mention is that all the disciplinary approaches that have been detected through all of those years regarding the body, hide one of humanity’s greatest fears  — the fear of death. As a consequence, consumerism exploits the fear of growing old and makes people and particularly women feel that they will be more loved and live longer if they take care of their bodies by implementing certain advice that the mechanism of society gives to them.

Finally the Love Your Body syndrome (LYB) suggests that in today’s era, you go straight from the gym to the therapist’s couch to work on instilling the proper compulsory self body love. Thus, as you see, today the emphasis is given upon teaching the masses not what to think, but how to think’!

 

are you beach body ready

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Transfanshional Lab – The Talk: London College of Fashion

In modern life, where everything changes ever so immensely and our digital era contributes to the transformation of almost everything, from relationships to science, there is still something that remains pure to its purpose, that is art and fashion. Human imagination, feelings, vision and thoughts are expressed through art and fashion in our popular culture today.

It is undoubtable the fact that,in our era, we have a plethora of choices to express ourselves and develop our creativity, and fashion as an art sector came to conquer the neoliberal world. Thus, it is all about vision. You imagine a world and all of a sudden you make it real. It is, therefore, the expression of our inner selves and our personal style and interpretation of reality. This latter statement of realisation came into my mind when I visited London College of Fashion last week, to attend a talk, titled the Transfashional Lab.

 

Here is the entrance of  London College of Fashion. It is stunning isn’t it ?

In particular, this seminar illustrated the different ways in which fashion and art influenced Austian, Polish and British culture. All of the lecturers have respectable positions at Museums as curators, eg. Victoria & Albert museum, or others derived from the fashion industry and the publishing sector, eg. Elle magazine, Vogue etc. I was so happy for being there, and had the chance to see them and talk to them regarding the history of fashion.

What really impressed me, in the third round of the talk, was that in London, fashion and nightclubbing have had a complementary relationship, all of those years. The nightlife in London especially in the 1970s was characterized by the punk fashion phenomenon, as all the nightclubs were full of ‘punk’ Londoners. At this specific time one of the most well known and fabulous british designers in our era, was a messiah and a pioneer in the 70’s, this was Vivienne Westwood. She was one of the architecs of the punk fashion phenomenon and through her creations she was trying to make a statement in the concurrent regime in some way.

It was years later, in 1981-1982 when Westwood made her first catwalk show, called ‘Pirates’. In ‘Pirates’, she was inspired from native Americans, the plundering history and the Third World. That is the reason why she created historical dresses and from that moment in her career she developped ethnic cutting techniques which are based on rectangles. Check out some photos that I took during the Talk regarding Westwood!

Westwood’s clothes express a dynamic combination with the body and she continues to integrate this in with historical cuts.

As a consequence of this example, we can see that fashion is influenced by history, the ordinary lives of the people, the different eras, the gestures and the movements, in other words fashion is culture and the creation of art is the highest purpose of a designer, a painter, or any other kind of artist.

Take another look at more photos form the Talk! I hope you like them! XOXO Vogueaddictedgirl!

 

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