The British edition of Vogue is a fashion magazine that has been published since the autumn of 1916. The magazine's current editor stated that, “Vogue’s power is universally acknowledged. It’s the place everybody wants to be if they want to be in the world of fashion" and 85% of the magazine’s readers agree that “Vogue is the Fashion Bible”. The magazine is considered to be one that links fashion to high society and class, teaching its readers how to ‘assume a distinctively chic and modern appearance’. As a branch-off of American Vogue, British Vogue is a magazine whose success is based upon its advertising rather than its sales revenue. In 2007, it ran 2,020 pages of advertising at an average of £16,000 a page. It is deemed to be more commercial than other editions of Vogue. British Vogue is the most profitable British magazine as well as the most profitable edition of Vogue besides the US and China editions.
During the First World War, Condé Nast, Vogue’s publisher, had to deal with restrictions on overseas shipping as well as paper shortages in America. The British edition of Vogue was the answer to this problem, providing Vogue fashion coverage in the British Isles when it was not practicable to receive it in the usual way. Under the London edition's first editor, Elspeth Champcommunal, the magazine was essentially the same as the American edition, except for its British English spellings. However, Champcommunal thought it important that Vogue be more than a fashion magazine. It featured articles on ‘society and sporting news… Health and beauty advice… travelogues… and editorials’, making it a 'skillfully mixed cocktail'. Champcommunal held her editorial position until 1922.
Under its second editor, Dorothy Todd, a renowned Vogue editor due to her boldness, especially in her movement to blend the arts and fashion, the magazine shifted its focus from fashion to literature, featuring articles from Clive Bell about art exhibitions in Paris. There were also notable features from noted English writers such as Virginia Woolf and Aldous Huxley. Due to Todd's changes, the magazine lost much of its audience, and she spent only two years as editor. British Vogue is not believed to have really taken off until after its third editor, Alison Settle, was appointed in 1926.
Under Audrey Withers (editor from 1940 to 1960), the magazine again took a literary direction, and during the Second World War it even took part in reporting the war. In 1944, the American photographer Lee Miller persuaded Withers to send her to Normandy to produce an article on wartime nursing; Miller then followed the Allied advance through Europe, reporting the liberation of Paris and sending a story from Buchenwald.
British Vogue today
British Vogue’s current editor-in-chief is Alexandra Shulman, who took the reins in 1992. During her time as editor, the magazine has drawn more than a million readers. Shulman is especially known for developing collector’s issues of British Vogue, such as the ‘Gold Millennium Issue’ where celebrities and supermodels such as Kate Moss can be found on the cover. Shulman is also praised for her use of up and coming photographers like Mario Testino.
The editor has also become known for her attempt to change the face of fashion. She has pushed designers to stop using 'size-zero' models. Shulman stated that "super-skinny models are no longer acceptable," receiving positive notes from women all over the world.
Today, British Vogue has become quite modernised. On the magazine’s website (vogue.co.uk) there are more than 25 fashion blogs on beauty, fashion, and culture. You can also find VogueTV which features recent fashion videos from catwalks to interviews with models and designers.
Though the magazine doesn’t face as much criticism as American Vogue, the UK edition does have its moments. There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not the fashion industry is racist, and with the arrest of British designer John Galliano, who was found guilty of making racist and anti-Semitic comments in a public setting, as well as the news that famed hairdresser James Brown, who has worked closely with Kate Moss, went on a rant where he used the 'N' word, more attention has been brought to the issue. Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman joined the race debate, making a statement to the Daily Mail that she doesn't 'think fashion is institutionally racist in the slightest.' British Vogue also faces some criticisms for fashion blunders. In 2011 the magazine was criticised for a spread in the December 2011 issue which featured a rosy-cheeked model sitting atop a yak, sporting a pair of £5820 trousers said to make the model look like the animal.