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Vogue Archives at the Phoenix Art Museum

The Vogue Archive at the Phoenix Art Museum Library offers over a century’s worth of articles, advertisements, illustrations and photographs. Just one look through the archive shows the ever-changing and often cyclical trends of fashion, and zooming in on certain issues or pages gives detailed looks into the history of fashion as it was happening. After looking through several issues from 1892 to present, here are some highlights I found.

I started at the beginning with Vogue’s first issue published December 17, 1892 and sold for 10 cents per copy. The cover shows three debutantes in evening gowns, one reading, one looking in a hand mirror and the other in a garden. Inside this issue is the definition of “vogue” synonymous to fashion, which has continued to be the magazine’s central focus for 121 years. However, the original issue’s contents and format differ greatly from the Vogue we know today. The writing is in two columns, similar to a newspaper, and it features short dialogues and poetry accompanied by small illustrations only one or two inches in length and width.

Fast forward to 1947 and Vogue still resembles its earliest days more so than current issues. One article features Paris collections and boasts of the first time that full color sketches have been radioed from Paris overseas. The Paris collection includes elliptical hats, coats with three-quarter sleeves, wide belts, pleated skirts, satin and stripes.

About 30 years later, we see vivid color and photographs that could be mistaken for modern Vogue. In one 1979 issue, “Summer Finds” include bold, solid colors for shoes, shorts or pants, similar to the color blocking trend as of late. Models sport straight-legged pants in blue, orange, purple, green and red.

I ended my journey through the archive in 2012 on a page highlighting boldness and embellishment with colors, prints, collars and shoes. While this page looks much different than the first page of the first issue in 1892, Vogue continues to stay true to its original definition with a dedication to fashion.

Audrey Weil

Photo courtesy of the Phoenix Art Museum


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