Vogue 100: a century of style

To Manchester Art Gallery yesterday to see this exhibition, which  showed photographs and covers from the first issue of Vogue magazine in 1916. 1916! The middle of war – as a separate gallery displaying images of the Somme by Nevinson and Kennington reminded me.

The photographs were great, both in the draw of their images and as an insight into their times. I think the 1960s were my favourites: such youthfulness and energy and optimism. Jodrell Bank was the future – although other outdoor settings reminded you that most of Britain still belonged to a less shiny age. I preferred the black and white prints: they seemed more elegant and less fussy. Interesting to note that the September 1939 issue carried a piece about the importance of corsets; obviously the most important talking point of the day. However, Vogue tightened its belt in other ways too: the Christmas 1943 issue had 7 pages of presents to make.

Among all the seductive images of beauty and wealth, there was one that stood out. At first glance it looked as carefully posed as all the others with shades of the Ecstasy of St Theresa, but it was the Daughter of the Bürgermeister of Leipzig after her suicide, by Lee Miller from 1945.

The 1970s onwards were a reacquaintance with half-remembered images. However I distinctly recalled the 1973 photograph of Princess Anne by Norman Parkinson because it looked nothing like her! A helpful reminder of the unreliability and power of images.

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