Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

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 June from the V&A.

Miss Fish and her Eve drawings for Tatler

December 30, 2014
One of Miss Fish's drawings of Eve, from the popular Tatler column

One of Miss Fish’s drawings of Eve, from the popular Tatler column

One of the pleasures in writing a book about the history of magazines is discovering great talents that were household names a century or more ago but have since faded from the public gaze. One of those is Anne Harriet Fish. Miss Fish illustrated Tatler’s ‘Letters of Eve’ during the First World War and was 0ne of the most popular features of the magazine. The column started in May 1914 and was written by Olivia Maitland-Davidson with Anne Harriet Fish providing the drawings.

The witty, gossipy column of a society girl, like the rest of the magazine, had to alter its approach when Tatler suffered a considerable drop in sales at the outbreak of the war.

The Tatler was edited at the time by Edward Huskinson, himself a former cartoonist. He kept the magazine’s ‘light’ approach but aimed the humour at men in the armed forces and their families at home. The problem affected most publications – as demonstrated by circulation figures from the Financial Times, which saw its sales half during 1914, from an average of 15,000 a day to 7,000. Tatler‘s owner, Shorter, also owned the Sketch and another society weekly, the Bystander.

The Bystander changed its cover masthead to depict soldiers guarding the coast and then a man in uniform back at home in Blighty, rather than just society types sitting around chatting and reading.

Tatler Eve illustrator Anne Harriet Fish photographed in about 1915

Tatler Eve illustrator Anne Harriet Fish – Annie Fish – photographed in about 1915

Annie Fish’s unusual style created a ‘great vogue’ that was copied by designers of hats, coats and handkerchiefs; a play based a scene on a Fish drawing; a New Bond Street galley held an exhibition of her work; and a dozen short films used the drawings, with titles such as Eve Resolves to do War Work. The Eve illustrations were published as books, as were Maitland-Davidson’s columns.

The British Library lists 16 books written or illustrated by Fish, including Gilbert Frankau’s One of Us … With pictures by Fish (1917); The New Eve. Drawings by Fish written and designed by Fowl. Reproduced from … ‘The Tatler’ (1917); Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. Rendered into English verse by Edward Fitzgerald. With decorations by Fish (1922); Lipstick by Lady Vincent (1925); and All’s Well that Ends Swell. Auto suggestion for sensitive souls (1939).

Jazz Age dancers by AH Fish on the cover of Vanity fair, December 1927

Jazz Age dancers by AH Fish on the cover of Vanity fair, December 1927

Fish also worked for Vogue and did 30 covers portraying high society at play for Vanity Fair. These art deco style covers ran through the 1920s, depicting the bright young things, flappers and ballrooms full of elegantly dressed dancers in the Jazz Age.

In among the books above, Fish’s fame crossed the Atlantic, with a 1920 work of her drawings with text by American writers. It was published in New York with the title: High Society. The drawings by Fish. The prose precepts by Dorothy Parker, George S. Chappell, and Frank Crowninshiel. Condé Nast now owns both the Tatler and Vanity Fair.

One of the Condé Nast blogs by Shawn Waldron noted that the High Society book portrayed:

… a world populated by young-old matrons, astoundingly mature young girls, Victorian lady remnants, resplendent captains of industry, pussy-footing English butlers, amorous nursemaids, race touts, yearning young lovers, swanking soldiers, blank and vapid bores, bridge-playing parsons, and middle-class millionaires.

The blog also noted that the April 2010 issue of Vanity Fair carried a photograph of Hayley Bloomingdale, an American socialite, wearing a dress by designer Carolina Herrera portraying a print based on Fish’s drawings.

 

Joan Collins, Madonna and Kate Moss on magazine covers

December 22, 2014
Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail's Weekend supplement  - 30 August 2014

Joan Collins talks about married life as a slave in the Daily Mail’s Weekend supplement this year

When it comes to longevity as a magazine cover star, the prize has to go to the actress Joan Collins. I’ve identified her as far back as 1951 at the age of 18 on the cover of Tit-Bits and there can’t have been a year since when she hasn’t graced a magazine, from Picture Post, to Span, to Film Review, Woman, Playboy and OK! That’s 63 years a cover star.

But although she may not be showing her age – the Weekend supplement cover here is from August this year – Collins is getting on (she’s 81!), so who can rival her in future? Two names spring out –  Madonna and Kate Moss (far too early to consider Lady Gaga). So what are their chances of rivalling Joan Collins?

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Madonna on the cover of Smash Hits back in February 1984

Joan Collins had a massive boost to her career with the role of Alexis in Dallas and such reworkings are vital to a long career. Madonna is back in the news at the moment over the ‘artistic rape’ she says she suffered because someone stole demo tapes from her new album. There’s no doubt the US-born singer and actress is a brilliant self-publicist. She has been recognised as the best-selling female record artist on record. Now 56, Madonna’s first Vogue cover was February 1989. Before that, she was a Smash Hits cover in 1984, when she was coming up to the age of 26. That’s 30 years as a cover star and, assuming she is still popular when she’s 81, another 25 years to go, total: 55 years of cover stardom.

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss in Corinne Day photograph on cover of the Face magazine in July 1990

Kate Moss turned 40 this year and marked it with a Playboy cover. Her modelling fortune was made by her appearance – as a scrawny 16-year-old – on a 1990 cover of style bible The Face shot by Corinne Day. Moss was the face of the Third Summer of Love (the others being 1967 and then the rave summer of 1988).

Starting at such an early age clearly gives Kate Moss an advantage. She has 24 years behind her and, assuming the 81 limit again, 41 years to go. Total: 65. That early start at 16 gives her a potential two-year edge on Joan Collins and a full decade on Madonna. Her first cover was on the Face, a relatively niche title, whereas Tit-Bits in 1951, the launch platform for Joan Collins, was probably selling a million copies a week. In contrast, Moss has been on a Vogue cover – frequently twice a year – just about every year since 1997, whereas Collins has never been on a Vogue cover.

On a personal level, Collins is on her fifth marriage – including Anthony Newley, one of the most gifted actors, singers and songwriters of his generation (Goldfinger title song, a dozen top 40 hits, roles in Dr Dolittle and Eastenders) – and has three children.

Madonna has been married twice – to Dead Man Walking actor Sean Penn and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director Guy Ritchie – and has four children. Moss has been married just once and has a child from her relationship with Dazed magazine co-founder Jefferson Hack.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether Kate Moss, or Madonna, has the staying power and the ability to appeal to such a wide range of people as Joan Collins.

Scarf cartoon warning to Isadora Duncan

December 16, 2014
Tom Browne cartoon warning to Isadora Duncan

The fate of the cyclist in this Tom Browne cartoon should have been a warning to Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan was a popular dancer from California who lived in Europe in the 1920s. She met an untimely death at the age of 50 when travelling in a car as a passenger – her long scarf became entangled in one of the rear wheels and broke her neck.

That happened in 1927, so this three-frame Tom Browne cartoon from 1904 predates the accident by 23 years.

The cartoon was carried in Cassell’s Penny magazine with the three frames broken up by jokes. Cycling was still a relatively new sport – notice there is no sign of any brakes on the bike.

Like many publishers, Cassells produced fiction magazines alongside its books. As well as the Penny Magazine, it published Chums and the upmarket monthly Cassell’s Magazine.

The Penny Magazine lasted until the mid-1920s, when it was taken over by T.P. O’Connor, a prominent journalist and Irish nationalist politician who sat as a  British MP, to become T.P.’s and Cassell’s Weekly. O’Connor is one of two journalists marked by a bust in Fleet Street, the other being Edgar Wallace.

 

Magazine sells for £8000 on eBay

October 31, 2014
Marc Jacobs 2014 Playboy special issue

Marc Jacobs 2014 Playboy special issue in perspex box

Magazine collectors have been setting more records on eBay recently. At the top of the tree is the £8000 spent on a copy of Playboy.

It’s one of the 60th anniversary issues of the men’s magazine with Kate Moss on the cover from Jan/Feb 2014 (which went on sale at the start of December). There were at least two variants of the cover: a sideways-on shot of Moss in a Playboy Bunny costume kneeling, which was used in countries such as the UK, Hungary, US and Germany; and one used in Mexico and Italy with the British model kneeling and looking back over her left shoulder.

Inside the issue were 18 pages of photos, which she told one paper she did as a way of celebrating her 40th birthday in 2014.

The cover photographs were taken by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, two UK-based snappers who usually spend their time doing cover shots for the likes of Dazed & ConfusedLove, W and Vogue.

UK issues have been selling for up to £30 on eBay.

The looking-back image was also used for 800 unpriced copies produced in co-operation with US fashion designer Marc Jacobs. One of these went for about £150 in the US recently. However, number 433 of the 800 edition twice failed to attract any bids recently on eBay when priced at £150 and £125.

The copy that fetched £8000 was one of 100 Jacobs copies that were signed by Moss and came in a perspex box. This one is numbered 33/100. Moss appeared at a Jacobs shop in Mount Street, London, at the start of December 2013 as part of the publicity for Playboy‘s 60th celebrations.

Of course, the buyer is after some kind of celebrity rub-off rather than a magazine. But £8000? Has to be a PR stunt. One of these Playboy anniversary issues in a box sold in the US recently for just $3000 (about £1800).

Kate Moss 2014 Playboy cover as it appeared in the UK

Kate Moss 2014 Playboy cover as it appeared in the UK

Goalen – the super model face of the 1950s

June 13, 2014
super model - mannequin - Barbara Goalen

Sunday Times Magazine celebrates the style of 1952, as personified by super model Barbara Goalen (30 January 1977)

Model – or rather ‘mannequin’ in the teminology of the day – Barbara Goalen was chosen by the Sunday Times Magazine as the personification of the style of 1952.

The issue marked changes in ‘Britain at Work’ over the 25 years since Queen Elizabeth’s coming to the throne in 1952 in an article titled ‘The New Elizabethans’ (30 January 1977).

In that year, Goalen had been part of a 40,000-mile world tour over four weeks to promote British fashions and exports.

Goalen was born on the first day of 1921 and died in 2002. She was renowned for her wasp waist and her aloof looks.  Her measurements were 33 inches (for her ‘charlies’ in her own words), 18-in waist and 31-in hips; she tipped the scales at under eight stones.

Goalen’s modelling face was marked by arched eyebrows and she was the ideal mannequin for Dior’s New Look – ‘mink and diamonds’.

Despite her international success, she would be the leading super model in today’s terms, Goalen gave up modelling in 1954 when she married Nigel Campbell, a Lloyd’s underwriter. In the 1960s, she gave out fashion advice in the pages of the Daily Telegraph.

The National Portrait Gallery has four  photographs of Goalen ranging from 1949 to 1952, by Norman Parkinson (one with Wenda Parkinson, Parks’ wife since 1947) and John French. A fourth image from Keystone Press shows Goalen next to a portrait of herself by James Proudfoot.

Barbara Goalen on the cover of the general interest weekly Illustrated in 1953

Barbara Goalen on the cover of the general interest weekly Illustrated (29 August 1953)

The cover of Illustrated here shows an image from the shoot chosen by the Sunday Times Magazine. (There is a certain irony here in that the advent of free Sunday supplements sparked by the Sunday Times, was a big factor in killing off the general interest weeklies such as Illustrated.) Illustrated headlines Goalen as modelling the ‘London Look’. Inside, two photographers are credited, Peter Waugh and David Olins. (Some websites have identified the photographer as Richard Avedon, but this seems unlikely.)

Illustrated rival Picture Post also featured Goalen cover on its cover in 1952, in this case with a photo by John French.

 


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