Review: Dark Victory: When Vogue Came Of Age

20th May 2016
Alice Gorstejn
blog127 Review: Dark Victory: When Vogue Came Of Age

Lee Miller, covering WWII for Vogue teamed up with the American photographer David E. Scherman, a Life magazine correspondent on many assignments.

The exhibition Vogue 100: A Century of Style organized by the National Portrait Gallery, London in collaboration with British Vogue as part of the magazine’s anniversary celebrations showcases a remarkable range of photography as well as several workshops and masterclasses.

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The Lecture: Dark Victory: When Vogue Came of Age , 1939-1945, highlights the British magazine’s unimaginable outbreak due to war and its key figures such as the photographers Lee Miller, Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson, editor Audrey Withers and Dorothy Todd.

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Initially British Vogue looked identical like its American parent company Vogue including the same layout, dispatched from NY and send to London with same photographs, previously used in American Vogue’s edition. However, as the war started British Vogue had the unique opportunity to find its own identity and voice and escape from the shadows and influences from its parent company. Due to all shortages during World War 2, Vogue became a monthly magazine to conserve paper.  Changing from a fortnightly magazine to monthly edition really changed how the magazine fulfilled its purpose and made Vogue what it is now.  Monthly editions during the war were so popular that the magazine was re-sold at a higher price as it was literally impossible to become a new subscriber as for that an existing one had to literally pass away.

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Lee Miller was the American photographer who put the brutal reality of the Second World War’s frontline in the pages of Vogue. As a retrospective of her work opens up at the Imperial War Museum, we look back at the legacy she left behind. Lee Miller Archive

Britain’s darkest hour the few outstanding names at the magazine tried their best to travel Europe and represent the horrific reality war had created. In particular Lee Miller, who was not only a former model but photographer gave the magazine an editorial edge and created whole new dimensions as she documented the liberation of France, Belgium and Luxembourg prior accompanying the American advance into Germany and taking terrifying pictures of the victims of the brutal concentration camp Buchenwald.

The magazine had a special meaning not only to all fashion & beauty oriented females of  society, but a special place in government thinking as it could be used as an instrument of war time government. For instance, as several horrible scalping accidents showed that long hair would get stuck in machinery, Vogue was supposed to set a new trend, implying that long hair was no longer fashionable instead shoulder length hair was the new trend enabling women to work in factories.

The exhibition is an absolute must-see, so don’t miss out and visit it to celebrate Vogue’s 100th anniversary! For more information, please visit:

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