Archive for the ‘women’s magazines’ Category

Vogue outs bonkers celebrity

April 26, 2020

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Vogue, or at least the British edition of the Condé Nast monthly, finds itself credited in today’s Sunday Times for its sound judgment in spiking an interview with Maya Arulpragasam, better known as the singer MIA. ‘Thank heaven for Vogue,’ says Sarah Baxter, in condemning MIA’s ‘bonkers’ attitude towards taking a vaccine coronavirus.

The row came after MIA had tweeted that death would be preferable to taking a vaccine. ‘if I have to choose between a vaccine or chip [against the coronavirus], I’m gonna choose death’. She said that Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue had withdrawn his offer for a feature. She has since removed the post.

Enninful, editor of British Vogue – known as Brogue – responded:

Considering . . . we’re chronicling the struggles of the NHS to cope, we don’t feel we can have her involved. It just wouldn’t be right.’

Even after deleting her messages, MIA responded to Vogue: ‘I missed a lot of vaccines and PLOT TWIST. I’m still alive. If I don’t make it past this age, that’s okay.’ Is she loopy or what?

Baxter adds the tennis player Novak Djokovic to the list of bonkers celebrities as another ‘anti-vaxxer’ in an article that compares their warped attitudes with the madness of Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr Strangelove.

It’s not all glory for Vogue, though. The columnist also recalls that the US version of the glossy fashion magazine once described the wife of the Syrian dictator, Bashar al-Assad, as the ‘rose of the desert’ just as the country’s civil war broke out.

Magazines and adverts in Fleet Street

April 20, 2020

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Fleet Street has run with printing ink ever since Wynkyn de Worde moved Caxton’s press from Westminster into Shoe Lane, just off the east end of the street, in the 1490s. This coloured postcard tells of much of that history.

The view looks east along Fleet Street across Ludgate Circus and through the railway viaduct that once spanned Ludgate Hill up to St Paul’s Cathedral. The church spire in front of the cathedral’s dome is St Martin’s Ludgate, a church that, like St Paul’s, was rebuilt by Christopher Wren after the 1666 Great Fire of London. Ludgate Hill station closed in 1929, but the bridge was not demolished until 1990 as part of the construction of Thameslink, the line that crosses the capital to join the south coast with the Midlands.

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Newspaper seller by Poppin’s Court

Bride Lane is the the right and a newspaper seller stands on the left at the archway leading into Poppin’s Court. Shoe Lane would be behind to the left.

At least three pubs can be seen. The King Lud is in front of the rail bridge on the left. Today, it’s split into a Santander branch and a Leon fast food joint. There’s a plaque up on the wall on the Ludgate Hill side of the Leon marking the site of publication of the first regular English daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, in 1702. The pub was named after the king who, legend has it, founded London and gave his name to Ludgate. A statue of Lud and his sons that was once part of the gate now stands in the porch of St Dunstan-in-the West at the other end of Fleet Street.

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Signs for Smith’s Advertising Agency, Quiver magazine and Tit-Bits, probably in May 1914

On the right of the postcard, can just be made out the square white sign for the Punch Tavern (No 99), which was called the Crown and Sugar Loaf, but took the new name after Punch magazine moved to 85 Fleet Street in 1845. The pub developers Saville & Martin rebuilt the pub in 1890s and it is now grade II listed. Smith’s, one of the biggest advertising agencies, occupied the offices above the Punch Tavern, named Publicity House. The SAA lettering can be seen on the corner of a building it occupied from 1885 to at least 1936. Coming back in this direction on the right is Bride Lane, home to both the journalists’ church and now St Bride’s Printing Library. There’s then an awning with a shop frontage below and the white sign for The Old Bell Tavern (No 95).

Today, the newsagents under the awning is gone and there is a fancy windowed frontage to the Old Bell, but photographs show there used to be just a tiled entrance way into the pub (like the Punch Tavern today).

Above the Old Bell are two hoardings. The lower one with a green background is for Tit-Bits, promoting ‘£500 in simple cricket competition’.

The larger hoarding shows a poster for The Quiver, a popular monthly, headed up with the words ‘Special mothers’ and daughters’ number’. The name Annie S Swan tops the billing. Swan was a famous romantic fiction writer, and editor of Women at Home from 1893 to 1917. She was also a founder of the Scottish National Party. The Quiver serialised Swan’s Corroding Gold from early 1914 and Cassell published the book that same year. The poster appears to be advertising the May issue, suggesting the photograph was taken at that time.

Other writers on the Quiver list include Amy B Barnard LLA (author of The Girls’ Encyclopaedia), the author Mrs George de Horne Vaizey,  Mrs Elizabeth Sloan Chesser MD, and Helen Wallace. 

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The Quiver, February 1914. The cover lines are for Arnold Bennett’s ‘mental stocktaking’ and the romantic serial ‘Heart’s Desire’ by Mrs George de Horne Vaizey

The Quiver, which ran from 1861 to1926, was published and printed by Cassell at La Belle Sauvage Yard, a few hundred yards away near the foot of Ludgate Hill. Cassell was a publishing house that pioneered cheap reprints of classic books and hit it big in 1883 with Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines two years later. The Quiver was originally ‘designed for the defence and promotion of biblical truth, and the advancement of religion in the homes of the people’, what would have been called ‘Sunday reading’, but became more general in its coverage in the Edwardian era. The name Cassell is now associated only with books, but the company was also one of the biggest magazine publishers of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and sold its titles to Harmsworth’s Amalgamated Press in the late 1920s. The titles included Cassell’s Magazine, the short-lived Woman’s World (edited by Oscar Wilde), Cassell’s Saturday Journal, Chums, the Penny Magazine, New Magazine and The Story-Teller.

La Belle Sauvage Yard no longer exists, but John Cassell moved his publishing and printing offices there in 1852, when it was part of one of the oldest inns in the City of London, The Bell Savage, dating back to 1380. According to The Story of the House of Cassell, the name derives from a combination of William Savage and the name of the hostelry he owned, Savage’s Inn, otherwise called the Bell on the Hoop. It later became a theatre and coaching inn.

The book places the Francification of the name to La Belle Sauvage at the door of no less a literary figure than Joseph Addison, co-founder of the original daily Spectator in 1711. In issue 82 of the Spectator, despite customers finding their ale at ‘the Sign of a Savage Man standing by a Bell’ he writes about ‘the reading of an old Romance translated out of the French, which gives an account of a very beautiful Woman who was found in a Wilderness, and it is called in the French La Belle Sauvage.’

Cassell gradually took over the yard and rebuilt it. The entrance was through an arch off Ludgate Hill. The inn was demolished in 1873 to make way for the railway viaduct. The rest of La Belle Sauvage was destroyed, like much of Fleet Street, by bombing in 1941.

Notice how prolific the advertising sings are. The Bovril sign atop the building on the far side of Ludgate Circus was there from about 1900 for 40 years. Below are promotions for Schweppes and the Isle of Man office with its Legs of Man logo.

Smith’s, one of the biggest advertising agencies, occupied the offices above the Punch Tavern, named Publicity House. The SAA lettering can be seen on the corner at the level of each of the three floors of the building.

Finally, the postcard demonstrates image manipulation, not only because it was a black-and-white photograph that has been coloured, but part of the view has been edited. Compare the bottom-right corner of the postcard with the close-up of the Quiver poster; you’ll see that the lorry with the Robin starch advertising on its canvas side has been removed and painted over with pedestrians, probably because it was felt to detract from the card.

Postwar crossword days at Elle

April 19, 2020

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Today, Elle magazine is renowned as a glossy fashion monthly licensed by its French owners and published globally from New York to Moscow. But it has its origins as a general women’s weekly founded in postwar Paris.

The cover here is from 1947 (dated October 21). It’s unusual for its crossword-based design with the woman and background taken as a single photograph with the masthead title added later. The cross words act as cover lines, describing the attributes of the magazine: gay and practical, but with work spelled out twice as downward words.

Inside was the actual mots croisés for the issue, which is reproduced below. Note the non-symmetrical grid, there being two or three clues for each words, and unusual numbering for the grid. In Britain, the crossword craze dates to the mid-1920s and the symmetrical shape and numbering style were ubiquitous in the 1930s.

The vertical numbers can just be seen on the left edge of the cover design, in Roman numerals. Answers on a postcard please …

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‘New Women in a New World’

January 1, 2020
Home Notes magazine cover in 1910 had high hoped for 'New Women in a New World'

Home Notes in 1910 had high hopes for ‘New Women in a New World’

Let’s just keep the New Year celebrations going. Here’s how the women’s weekly Home Notes saw things in 1910 – ‘New Women in a New World’.

The first decade of the 20th century witnessed the growth of the women’s suffrage movement. In 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst had founded the Women’s Social and Political Union. As feminist frustrations grew during the decade, suffragettes turned to smashing windows in Downing Street, mass demonstrations, and in 1909 prison hunger strikes. There were high hopes in 1910 that the Conciliation bill would give the vote to a million property-owning women, but it did not become law. In November, suffragettes marched on parliament, where they were brutally treated by police on ‘Black Friday’.

Christmas magazines: vanity and Vogue

December 25, 2019

 

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The theme of Vogue’s 1935 Christmas cover was vanity

Vogue‘s 1935 Christmas issue was a vanity number – and it is dated 25 December – though the cover photographer is not credited. At this time, Vogue came out twice a month (notice it is issue number 26 for the year), a practice that carried on into the 1980s.

Masks were a feature in English theatre at the time and were a specialism of Angus McBean. McBean’s 1936 photograph of Ivor Novello as George Hell, the anti-hero of ‘The Happy Hypocrite’ play, showed the actor holding a mask made by McBean. The image was a sensation – it was published in the Sketch, Tatler, Bystander, Illustrated London News and Britannia and Eve and encouraged the mask-maker to focus on theatre publicity and ‘surrealized’ photography.

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Bruehl-Bourges colour photo for Condé Nast

Condé Montrose Nast, the owner of the US fashion magazine Vogue, was keen on introducing colour advertising and in 1931 turned to photographer Anton Bruehl and colour specialist Fernand Bourges to develop a process to produce high-quality colour transparencies. Among the results was Vogue’s first photographic cover in 1932 (July 20). They produced hundreds of brilliant plates for Condé Nast’s House & Garden and Vanity Fair, as well as Vogue. The company published 64 examples of Bruehl–Bourges photographs in a brochure, Color sells.

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Cecil Beaton did these ballet costume designs

Cecil Beaton was an established Vogue photographer by this time, and these sketches were done as ballet costume designs for ‘The Edwardians’.  He would do similar work for ‘My Fair Lady’ in 1964 – and won two of that film’s eight Oscars. Beaton did a fashion shoot as well in this issue, as did Shaw Wildman.

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Semi-display adverts: collecting, bath granules, hair perfection, cruel fur and Olympic travel

This half page of semi-display adverts shows some of the preoccupations of Vogue readers in the 1930s and the issue’s vanity theme. Yesterday’s post suggested that it wasn’t until the 1990s that fur became a dirty word. However, that wasn’t totally accurate as this advert against the cruelty of trapping for furs shows. Major C Van Der Byl of Towcester had been running adverts as part of a ‘fur crusade’ against the ‘horrors of trapping and skinning animals alive’ in newspapers such as the Telegraph since at least 1929.

To the left of the major’s campaign, readers are recommended to wear a Lady Jayne slumber helmet. To the right is a more sinister image – an Olympic skier doing a Nazi salute.

More Christmas goodies: self-referential Christmas magazine covers.

 


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design


See how far attitudes on race have changed

December 9, 2019
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Times writer Sathnam Sanghera took the family on a Christmas treat to a manor house

How far has Britain come in its attitudes to race? That was the question sparked in my mind by this Times Magazine cover on Saturday illustrating an article by Sathnam Sanghera. Compare it with this 1968 cover:

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Nova magazine from August 1968, soon after Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech

The Nova issue from August 1968 set out to challenge racist attitudes. This was just five months after Enoch Powell gave his notorious Rivers of Blood speech to a Conservative party meeting in Birmingham. That year had seen the passing of the Commonwealth Immigrants Act. The new law meant migrants had to have a job before they arrived, to possess special skills or meet specific needs in the labour market. The tightening up of the law had come after campaigning by the likes of Powell since the arrival in 1965 of refugees from Uganda fleeing the murderous regime of Idi Amin.

For the first time, immigration laws required migrants to  be connected by birth or ancestry to a UK national, so keeping out people from the Commonwealth who had fought Britain’s wars for 200 years. This was just 20 after after the end of World War Two, when two and a half million men from India alone fought. Of them, 100,000 were killed or injured. Thirty-one were awarded the Victoria Cross.

You won’t see a cover like that 1968 issue of IPC’s Nova on any monthly woman’s magazine today. But then, Nova was groundbreaking in its editorial strategy of mixing controversy with fashion – whether it be abortion, racism, gay rights or the Pill – and the ability of its team to pull off such ideas. It even had the nerve to dress the Queen in Paris fashions!

The book Nova 1965 – 1975 celebrating the ‘thinking woman’s magazine’ and compiled by David Hillman and Harri Peccinotti has recently been reissued. At £26, that’s probably half what you’ll pay for a copy of the original on eBay. 

Ensnared in the 1925 crossword craze

December 4, 2019
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Readers found crosswords difficult in 1925, according to Our Home magazine

Arthur Wynne, a Liverpudlian, introduced the modern crossword in 1913 in the New York World, based on the word games he had played as a boy. So it’s fitting that the above  early reference to crosswords in Britain is on a children’s page, in this case from Our Home, a domestic monthly (November 1925). From boys to their uncle and even the Classics teacher, everyone is ensnared by the crossword craze.

By that time, the cheap weekly magazines were driving the craze. Answers was running a regular puzzle, and picture-based variants. Tuppenny weekly rival Tit-Bits was offering £500 in its prize crossword competitions – which would have bought a house at the time.

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People clearly found them difficult, as the Our Home cartoon and poem suggest. This is demonstrated by the fact that the results published in a December 1926 issue of Tit-Bits show that no-one was able to complete the November 13 puzzle – so the £500 prize was divided between seven entrants. It was the fourth puzzle the popular weekly magazine had carried.

This was about a year after the first crossword in a British daily paper, in the Express. The Telegraph also started up in 1925 and there was a rash of arrivals in 1930 with the Listener, the Times and Country Life. Rhythm magazine ran a jazz crossword in the 1930s.

What to do with old magazines

July 30, 2019
Tommy Handley, a famous face in 1955, on the cover of weekly magazine Tit-Bits

Tommy Handley was a famous face in 1955

 

People often ask me about selling old magazines and I’ve done several posts about selling on Ebay and the rare titles that are worth taking to auction.

But what about those that don’t sell or even the charity shops don’t want?

Chatting on eBay with a woman from Oxfam reminded me that care homes are another option.  I had a correspondence a few years ago with a dementia nurse who was trying to trace a particular magazine that one of the women in her care had appeared in. It was a needle in a haystack and we never found the specific issue. However, in the process I sent her some 1950s women’s weekly magazines. She said the result was amazing when she passed them around!

The people there, particularly the women, kept each other entertained for weeks afterwards with their reminiscing sparked off by the magazines. Pop and film stars, celebrities and household names they were then, but they are hardly known today. The likes of George Formby, Tommy Handley and Frankie Vaughan have all long since died, but these women were teenagers at the time and the oldest memories live on the longest.

 

 

Slimming magazine is a work of art

March 15, 2018
Verner Panton's yellow kitchen in the Sunday Times Home supplement (4 March 2018, pp20-21)

Verner Panton’s yellow kitchen photographed by Querin Leppert for the Sunday Times Home supplement (4 March 2018, pp20-21)

The Home supplement of the Sunday Times ran an interview on March 4 with Carin Panton, daughter of the danish designer Verner Panton. ‘Red, yellow and pink and blue’ showed photographs by Querin Leppert of the colour-themed rooms Panton had designed for a house in Bavaria.

In pride of place on the spread was the yellow dining room and kitchen. I thought the poster on the wall was a straight blow-up of a cover from Slimming magazine, then published by Emap. An odd, but ironic, choice I thought.

Sylvie Fleury's Slim a soup artwork based on a Slimming magazine front cover form October 1993

Sylvie Fleury’s ‘Slim a soup’ artwork based on a Slimming magazine front cover form October 1993

In fact, it’s an artwork by Sylvie Fleury, a Swiss pop artist. The photographic poster in the Panton house kitchen is called Slim a soup and is based on the October 1993 cover of Slimming. It comes complete with a WH Smith price label stuck on the title, so it was probably bought at an airport overseas.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design


 

Britain’s princes – cross-dressing in Marie Claire magazine

October 26, 2017
The royal twee: Prince Charles as urban ethnic nomad by Joe Casely-Hayford. In the bottom right the heir to the throne is out to lunch in Franco Moschino

The royal twee: Prince Charles as urban ethnic nomad by Joe Casely-Hayford. In the bottom right the heir to the throne is out to lunch in Franco Moschino

September 1988 saw the arrival of a new magazine, IPC’s interpretation of a French title that dated back to the 1930s, Marie Claire (I know Wikipedia says it came to the UK 1941, but that just shows how unreliable it is!) It was a breath of fresh air under the editorship of Glenda Bailey. She was seen as an unlikely choice, but talked her way into the job and made a great fist of it, bringing in investigative pieces alongside the fashion. Bailey has since joined the long list of British editors to cross the Atlantic, heading up Harper’s Bazaar since 2001.

 

Hallo tailor: Prince Andrew as ship's matey in Byblos. Right, Charles at home in Moschino

Hallo tailor: Prince Andrew as ship’s matey in Byblos. Right, Charles at home in Moschino

It’s worth getting out these old copies of Marie Claire for articles such as ‘Royal makeover: The princes’ new clothes’. It wasn’t an original idea, Nova ran a piece in 1968 that had French fashion designer André Courrèges giving the Queen a makeover (it caused a storm at the time!). Marie Claire went a step further in tackling Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward – and … well just look at the cross-dressing pictures!

Boys will be boys. Prince Andrew in English Eccentrics. Edward in Rifat Ozbek and John Flett

Boys will be boys. Prince Andrew in English Eccentrics. Left, Edward in Rifat Ozbek and John Flett

Here’s what Marie Claire said at the time:

If the Royal family has become nothing more than a collection of clothes-horses, we know who to blame, don’t we? The Princess of Wales (5ft 10in, pencil slim) transformed herself from little-girl-lost into Miss United Kingdom as if she’d been anticipating the event since birth. The Duchess of York (5ft 8in, rolling gait) exacerbated the situation by contrast: she caught the public imagination as the All England land girl. Even the Princess Royal (5ft 7in, very ordinary) has suddenly acquired an incongruous interest in fashion.

The Princes, however, have been cruelly denied the opportunity to follow in the wake of their womenfolk. Protocol decrees that these unfortunate patricians should appear publicly in sub-Next and privately in the limited shades of country compost. Sympathetic to their predicament, Marie Claire asked designers Joe Casely-Hayford, Franco Moschino, Rifat Ozbek, John Flett, English Eccentrics and Byblos to give Princes Charles, Andrew and Edward the same equality of opportunity as their female counterparts.

Knowing that this would be a difficult creative task, we did not ask them to design for the actual Royal physique, nor did we specify whether the ensembles were for state occasions or intimate At Homes, but our philanthropy may result in a new age of elegance for the Royal male. Windsor change?


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design