Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

Jim Lee’s take on Julia Foster

December 22, 2015
Julia Foster profiled in Look of London (25 November 1967)

Julia Foster profile in Look of London (25 November 1967)

Julia Foster denies being a sex symbol like Julie Christie or Raquel Welch, but she was a big enough actress for a four-page interview and profile in trendy weekly Look of London. She was fresh from a role with Michael Caine in Alfie and was filming Half a Sixpence with Tommy Steele. And the second spread is devoted to a great portrait by photographer Jim Lee.

Jim Lee portrait of Julia Foster in Look of London

Jim Lee portrait of Julia Foster in Look of London

Jim Lee is not remembered in the same way as Bailey, Donovan or Lichfield, but he was up there in the 1960s and 1970s, as a Sarah Hughes profile of the fashion photographer pointed out in the Independent in August. His most famous image is probably ‘Aeroplane’ from 1969, for an Ossie Clark poster shoot with a ‘flying’ model.

 

The first Madonna magazine cover

December 17, 2015
The first Madonna magazine cover - No 1 from 4 February 1984

The first Madonna magazine cover – No 1 from 4 February 1984

A question comes in: when did Madonna first appear on a magazine cover? I can’t claim to have a definitive answer, but the first British example I can find is the above No 1 cover from 4 February 1984. The fortnightly IPC magazine beats the better-remembered Smash Hits published by Emap by 12 days.

A different look for the cover of Smash Hits, also in February 1984

A different look for the cover of Smash Hits, two weeks later in February 1984

i-D then followed with its March/April issue (which may well have also been in the shops in February).

Madonna cover from i-D dated March/April 1984

Madonna proves she can wink for the cover of i-D dated March/April 1984

It was another five years before Madonna began to appear on Vogue covers in the UK and US, but Tatler had given her its front in 1987.

Madonna fronts Tatler with a sophisticated look in September 1987

Madonna fronts Tatler with a sophisticated look in September 1987

And Playboy got in pretty early on Madonna’s act too with this September 1985 cover. Note the headline: ‘Madonna nude: unlike a virgin  … for the very first time.’

Madonna was pretty quick in getting her kit off for Playboy in September 1985

Madonna was pretty quick in getting her kit off for Playboy in September 1985

Looking at these covers, it’s noticeable how quickly she changes her style to give a different look for each audience – the teens in No 1, the rich sophisticates for the upmarket Tatler, and the goggling male readership of Playboy.

>>A History of British Magazine Design by Anthony Quinn (May 2016)

 

Blow by Blow in Vogue

November 20, 2015
Why the hats? ‘To keep everyone away from me, said Isabella Blow

Why the hats? ‘To keep everyone away from me, said Isabella Blow

The A.G. Nauta fashion blog has put together a nice sequence of Isabella Blow photos from magazines, including pages from the 1993 London Babes feature shot by Steven Meisel and conceived by Blow – the fashion muse’s brother has described it as the most expensive Vogue shoot of the era.

The blog quotes Blow, who wore some astounding creations from the likes of Philip Treacy – you have to see them live to really appreciate them:

Why the hats? To keep everyone away from me. They say, Oh, can I kiss you? I say, No, thank you very much. That’s why I’ve worn the hat. Goodbye. I don’t want to be kissed by all and sundry. I want to be kissed by the people I love.

>>>Women’s glossy magazines

 

Wartime woolly reality for Hocknell’s charming children

October 25, 2015
Lilian Hocknell and two of her charming children on the cover of Home magazine in March 1927

Lilian Hocknell and two of her charming children on the cover of Home magazine in March 1927

Lilian Hocknell was renowned for her drawings of charming children, but nowadays it’s difficult to imagine children being dressed with so many perfectly-arranged woolly layers, as on the Home magazine cover above. But then I came across the wartime Woman’s World cover from 1940, below. And there it all is, 13 years later the complete outfit to knit at home on the cover of a weekly woman’s magazine! The only thing is, it’s for a boy.

The real thing - Hocknell's children come to life on the cover of Woman's World in January 1940

The real thing – Hocknell’s children come to life on the cover of Woman’s World in January 1940

 

Thunderbirds inspiration for 1967 advert

October 2, 2015
Cosak cloth advert with sci-fi look and Thunderbird inspiration from 1967

Cosak cloth advert with sci-fi look and Thunderbirds inspiration from 1967

This 1967 advert goes for a sci-fi look with a set that looks like something from Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds – complete with Thunderbird 1 on the monitor screen. It was for Dormeuil‘s Cosak, a cloth mixture of terylene (a light and crease-resistant polymer) and mohair.

The headline font is inspired by the Magnetic Ink Character Recognition Code that was developed for the banking industry in the 1950s.

Apparently, Dormeuil spent a massive £100,000 on advertising the cloth in  consumer magazines such as Town and Look of London as well as the influential trade title Tailor & Cutter. The headline look was slightly different in the latter, with a simpler sans-serif font.

Dormeuil’s website has a gallery of its past adverts, but this campaign is not mentioned.

The Lady – out of racy Vie Parisienne

May 7, 2015
Retro artwork for The Lady magazine from 27 March 2015

Retro artwork for The Lady magazine from 27 March 2015

The Lady promotes itself as ‘England’s longest running weekly magazine for women’, having been in continuous publication since 1885 (DC Thomson’s People’s Friend out of Dundee holds the British record, dating from 1869 – in fact, it lays claim to being oldest women’s weekly magazine in the world). Furthermore, The Lady tells me, the magazine is ‘celebrated both for the quality of its editorial pages and its classified advertisements’ (it has long had the reputation as being the place to go to find a nanny). The Lady is ‘for elegant women with elegant minds’.

I was reading the issue above as I sat in the dentist this morning (no more Punch or Reader’s Digest). I was struck by the cover. Clearly, an illustration that has been lifted from a magazine dating from a century ago, when women had the time to line the walls of their houses with bowers of flowers, or at least inspired by one.

Then, blow me down, this afternoon I come across the original manifestation, for the racy French weekly Vie Parisienne. It’s been flipped, put through Photoshop with the colours hardened up and the artist’s monogram (GL – Georges Léonnec) removed, but it’s the same cover nevertheless. The cover line has also gone, Renouveau – renewal, in keeping with the Spring theme.

Racy French weekly Vie Parisienne from 1926

Racy French weekly Vie Parisienne from April 1926

The issue dates from 1926, the days of Art Deco and Jazz. This was very much the heyday of Vie Parisienne, which was famed for its artistic pin-ups. It was founded in 1863, before even People’s Friend, but closed in about 1970. Although there is still a French title of that name, it’s now pornographic and bears no relation to the original. And, just as Le Charivari had inspired Punch, so Vie Parisienne inspired London Life.

There’s a long history of magazines using each others’ cover ideas, though what the stately readers of The Lady in 1926 would have thought of these men’s magazines does not bear thinking about.

 

 

 

 

Wartime trench essentials reach into women’s fashions

May 1, 2015
Advert for ladies' wear in the form of a rubber, trench-style Mackintosh and 'reducing' underwear at John Noble in Manchester from New Illustrated magazine

Advert for ladies’ wear in the form of a rubber, trench-style Mackintosh and ‘reducing’ corset at John Noble in Manchester from New Illustrated magazine

This semi-display advert from New Illustrated magazine in 1919 shows two fashions for women from John Noble, garment manufacturers, in Manchester. At the top is the ‘Penarth’, a black rubber Mackintosh coat in the ‘popular Trench style’, showing how military influence reached from the trenches of the First World War even into women’s fashions.

In contrast to this practical wartime rubber coat – or perhaps not once you read the details – is the lacey-looking woman’s corset. The lower image of the ‘JN Reducing’ shows a corset made of coutille, a close-woven canvas that was used for mattresses and pillows, and for making stays. Added to the garment is a low-slung belt to give ‘ample support’. In addition, the corset boasts a ’13-inch, wedge-shaped double busk’, this being a strip of rigid material, such as wood, whalebone or steel, passed down the front of the corset to stiffen and support it. All that – and four suspenders – for 12/6 (12 shillings and 6 pence – 62.5p in modern coinage).

Ruptures, piles and Edwardian advertising paranoias

February 8, 2015
A long list of of Edwardian ailments from the classified advertising in Photo Bits magazine of 1902

A long list of of Edwardian ailments from the classified advertising in Photo Bits magazine of 1902

Rupture. Piles. Hair destroyed. Sleeplessness. Too stout. Fits. Drunkenness. The list of ailments bedevilling the Edwardians was endless to judge by just this one page of classified advertising from Photo Bits magazine in 1902.

In fact, the very concept of manhood was in doubt, at least that’s what’s suggested by the book about trying to cure the ‘general weakness, premature and acquired diseases’ of men.

Of course, it’s a strategy that underlies advertising to this day – create a problem in people’s minds so you can sell a product to cure it, from dandruff to bleeding gums, dry skin to greasy hair, slow computers to burglary.

Photo Bits magazine adverts for ways to improve your Edwardian moustache

Photo Bits magazine adverts for ways to improve your Edwardian moustache

The adverts I particularly like are the ones for moustaches, with their neat engravings bringing to mind an irritating, opera-singing character from a much more modern advert. These Edwardian adverts for ‘hair forcing’ treatments promised ‘strong military moustaches in a few weeks’ and that they would prevent baldness. So, send for your bottle of Forceline, HairsutVitaline or Pomade Don Cossack today!

Photo Bits was a slightly risqué weekly aimed at men that described itself as: ‘Up to date. Bright. Sketchy. Smart. Witty. Pictorial. Pithy. Original. Spicy.’

According to the British Library page on film magazinesPhoto Bits (Brunswick Publishing, later Phoenix Press) became Photo Bits and Cinema Star (New Picture Press) for a year in 1923, when it switched its name to Cinema Star and Photo Bits. In 1926, it was incorporated with London Life magazine.

Film, TV and radio magazines history

What about the undies?

January 19, 2015
A Woman's Own centre spread from 1939 - 'She likes undies'

A Woman’s Own centre spread from 1939 – ‘She likes undies’

Undies. When did you last see that word? It used to be used on women’s magazine covers and in headlines quite a lot. But where do you see it now? Fashion journalists in magazines were certainly not afraid to use it in 1939 – as this centre spread from Woman’s Own shows – ‘She likes undies.’

And in Woman’s Fair in its January 1940 ‘Wishful thinking’ editorial for the new year: ‘We are going to stop hoarding old evening dresses and decrepit undies and make instead the beauteous evening gala outfit on page 24.’ At the end of the 1940s, here are undies as the topic for the main cover line above the title on Woman’s Pictorial:

Woman's Pictorial magazine from 1949 with the cover line: 'Beutiful undies to make and embrioder'

Woman’s Pictorial magazine from 1949 with the cover line: ‘Beautiful undies to make and embroider’

But note that these were the days when fashionable women made their own. I can’t see such an article causing Woman’s Own to go flying off the shelves today. Fashions change and it seems that reliable, cheap undies from Marks and Spencer tempted women away from their sowing machines. By 1991, the Times could inform us: ‘And we know that Margaret Thatcher gets her undies at M&S. “Doesn’t everybody?” she asked a television reporter.’

The full Oxford English Dictionary defines undies as meaning ‘Articles of girls’ or women’s underclothing’. In support, it quotes:

  • 1906. Punch 30 May: ‘She’d blouses for Sundays, And marvellous “undies” concocted of ribbons and lace.’
  • 1920. Arnold Bennett, the Woman editor and novelist, in his book Our Women: Chapters on the Sex-discord: ‘You have only to reflect … upon the astonishing public importance given to what are delicately known as “undies”.’
  • 1939. Arthur Ransome in Secret Water: ‘Go on, Bridgie. Off with your things. Undies too.’ (Doesn’t sound like it’s from one of his Swallows and Amazons children’s books!)
  • 1967. Crime writer Nicolas Freeling in one of his Van der Valk books, Strike Out Where Not Applicable: Arlette … knows I’m not just belting off for the afternoon because of the black undies.

But that OED definition needs rewriting because undies are for men these days, as the Christmas clash of the male models shows:

David Gandy has claimed victory over David Beckham in the battle of the undies – and even made the astonishing claim that his underwear range has single-handedly saved Marks & Spencer (Mail on Sunday, 18 January 2015)

Undies meaning men’s underwear is a trend that goes back to at least 1993, when the Evening Standard talked about a company ‘that makes men’s undies’ and there was an ‘offer’ in another newspaper that year, the a Daily Star: ‘Buy a pair of Gazza’s undies.’

However, a quick flick through the newspaper cuttings suggests the word is these days much more likely to appear in the Sun than a broadsheet. While the ever-so-posh Lucia van der Post was quite happy to talk about undies for How to Spend It, the Financial Times glossy magazine, the FT put the word in quotes last year in a column by David Tang; almost as if it’s not quite a safe word to touch for its tycoon columnist (a sense suggested in that ‘delicately known as’ phrase from Arnold Bennett in 1920):

A stay at a flash hotel in Miami last year had us in a suite of rooms with a huge art-deco style bathroom, beautifully decorated in black and white, but with nowhere to sit or put one’s ‘undies’

‘One’s undies.’ Now that’s a really rare phrase.

The original i-D cover – from Picture Post

January 10, 2015
The fifth issue of i-D with a manipulated image of Princess Diana as the first winking subject and cover lines that pun on i-D, Di and DIY

The fifth issue of i-D with a manipulated image of Princess Diana as the first winking subject and cover lines that pun on i-D, Di and DIY

Fashion magazine i-D was founded by former Vogue art director Terry Jones and the winking model has been a feature of the cover since its fifth issue in 1981 (note the unusual landscape orientation for the magazine). The winking face mimics the letters i-D turned on their side as an emoticon.

It seems that certain people cannot wink, so some subterfuge has to be found to cover up the subject’s right eye. Sade and Madonna can manage it, but Kylie Minogue and Kate Moss can’t! In the duotone blue image here, Princess Diana has someone else’s heavily made-up winking right eye posted over her own.

Vivian Blaine from the London stage adaption of the musical Guys and Dolls on the cover of Picture Post in 1953

Vivian Blaine from the London stage adaption of the musical Guys and Dolls on the cover of Picture Post in 1953

So this Picture Post from 1953 with Vivian Blaine from the London run of the musical Guys and Dolls caught my eye – as it may well have caught Terry Jones’ eye, for he was born in 1945 and is on record as being a fan of Dan dare in the Eagle, which was produced by Hulton, Picture Post‘s publisher. Blaine played the chorus girl Miss Adelaide in the Broadway and film versions of Guys and Dolls as well as in London, with ‘Adelaide’s Lament’ as her show-stopping song.

French dancer Colette Marchand was renowned for her legs and is here shown in the French ballet Cine-Bijou by Roland Petit

French dancer Colette Marchand was renowned for her shapely legs, Picture Post tells us, and is here shown in the French ballet Cine-Bijou by Roland Petit

Picture Post is frequently cited as an inspiration for magazine designers, for example for Michael Rand in his work on the Sunday Times Magazine. Although a groundbreaking magazine in photojournalism and its layout techniques, Picture Post was losing its way in 1953 and was focusing on a male audience with regular centre-spread pin-ups and gimmicks such as 3-D pictures. As well the Guys and Dolls feature, this issue of  Picture Post includes photographs of French dancer Colette Marchand in a similarly-themed French ballet Cine-Bijou. She was renowned for her shapely legs, Picture Post tells us, and is here shown in the ballet by Roland Petit.

As well as looking forward 30 years to the winking i-D, the pointing Blaine image harks back 40 years to Alfred Leete’s pointing Kitchener cover from London Opinion in 1914, which was also used for the ‘Your Country Needs You’ first world war poster. This, of course, inspired many copies, including James Montgomery Flagg’s 1916 Leslie’s magazine cover – with its turgid cover line, ‘What are you doing for preparedness?’ – and the ‘I want you for US Army’ recruiting poster. Although the British did not reuse Leete’s Kitchener image in the second world war, Picture Post ran it as a cover in 1940 and the Americans dusted off Flagg’s image for their recruitment campaigns again.

Picture Post, i-D and London Opinion are discussed in my book, British Magazine Design, coming out in November from the V&A.


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