Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Searching the Vogue Archives

One of the major advantages of working at NYU is the library--even though books tend to be missing from the shelves, the digital resources and interlibrary loans are phenomenal. This week, one of my students in my fashion tutorial notified me that Bobst had subscribed to the mythical and expensive Vogue archives database. Given that I'm writing this book on femininity, the news was most welcome.

This morning and early afternoon, I poked around and performed some key word searches. The first thing I noticed was the class address--in the 1910s and 1920s, Vogue really was not aimed at a classless audience. Hollywood stars were barely mentioned and its features and fashion displayed not an upwardly mobile fantasy but revealed an exclusive address towards old money and class elites. I wasn't really surprised--although it meant there was little that I could find for my chapter--but on their own, these omissions reinforce my gut sense about the importance of movies, movie fan magazines (many of them also digitized online) and other forms of mass market publishing. With Clara Bow, Gloria Swanson, Norma Talmadge and others largely absent from the pages of Vogue--even from its journalism--I have better grounds to mount much of my argument, which in some ways relies on these class/cultural distinctions.

Other than that, the Vogue database is a feast for the eyes. Here are a few images (sadly none from in colour) that I thought I'd share before going back to work. The first shows styles from 1917, the second features an ad with amazing 1924 dresses.

1 comment:

Quinn said...

Interesting observation about class in Vogue. There's definitely still traces (maybe chunks) of it still there, last time I read it regularly.

Love the 1917s garb. The layering is so charming.