Vogue is an American magazine about fashion, culture, and lifestyles. This is a world-famous journal, and there are various international editions. One of the most striking attributes of this periodical is its covers that reflect the current social and political environment. The main goal of this paper is to discuss the social, political, and cultural contexts of two Vogue covers considering style or trends, possible customers, and the overall message of the images.
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The first picture illustrated by Helen Dryden was published on the 1st of November in a U.S. edition. The picture presents a woman on the street who struggles with a strong winter wind (Vogue n.d). She wears an expensive brown fur coat and an elegant hat. The fashion in the United States in the 1920s was characterized by the new era of women who gained their independence. Loose clothing, casual dresses, and bright colours were the popular trends at the time (Croll 2014). Politically, this period was very distinctive. After the First World War, Republicans came to power. It resulted in the expansion of the business. Although the entertainment industry significantly developed, new religious morals and attitudes became popular as well.
This cover reflects the cultural and social context of that era. American citizens enjoyed prosperity and freedom (Blackman, 2007). People presented in the picture symbolize a high social activity as they came outside in spite of the terrible weather. The cover passes on the message that highlights the beginning of the era of liberty, relief, and leisure. Therefore, the possible customers were young and middle-aged men and women who successfully adapted to a new environment and were able to keep up with fast-moving situations.
The second picture was published in U.S. and British editions in November 1949. This cover is a photograph of a model Wenda Parkinson made by her husband, Norman Parkinson (Baring 2009). The picture presents a lady walking on a street and looking back at an object invisible for spectators (Withers n.d.). Her outfit is classic and elegant. She is wearing a black fitted jacket, black skirt, stylish gloves, and a hat. Western fashion in the years following the Second World War was characterized by exclusive custom-fitted clothing.
The clothing industry developed quickly after the end of the war (Forty, 1986). However, the political environment in the West was not stable during that period. The Soviet Union and the United States became the world’s new superpowers. It resulted in a serious tension between western and eastern blocks. However, the baby boom changed social trends. People began to move from cities to suburban areas. Also, the quality of life became much higher in comparison to the war period.
This cover presents fashion trends of glamour and elegance of the 1950s. Billowing skirts, white gloves, and handbags were very popular back then. The main message of this picture is that people returned to normal life and are ready to move forward, but memories of the terrifying past are still there. Therefore, the possible customers were new families and young citizens that aimed at reviving their countries.
In conclusion, fashion is always associated with social and political trends. The way people want to appear changes, depending on a situation in the world. The mentioned above examples illustrate the connection between the fashion industry and systematic transformations in societies.
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Baring, L 2009, Norman Parkinson: never out of fashion. Web.
Blackman, C 2007, 100 years of fashion illustrations, Laurence King, London.
Croll, J 2014, Fashion that changed the world, Prestel, Munich.
Forty, A 1986, Objects of desire: design and Society since 1750, Thames & Hudson, London.
Vogue n.d. Web.
Withers, A n.d., November 1949. Web.