Monday, October 22, 2012


Over the past few years, I have developed a minor addiction to fashion books. I have a shelf filled with books on fashion photographers, fashion magazines, fashion stylists, and all the beautiful things that distract me from the somewhat ordinariness of everyday life. 

These books celebrate the industry, by showcasing the talented groups and individuals who make up this ever-changing world of high fashion. 

I am going to analyse and review my books in the hope that I will familiarise myself with the content of each book, and learn more about the fashion industry. 

“In Vogue: 50 Years of Australian Style”

Edited by Kirstie Clements and Lee Tulloch.
First published in Australia in 2009 by HarperCollinsPublishers Australia Pty Ltd.

“Vogue Australia celebrates its 50th birthday with a fascinating look back over five decades of people, fashions and style setters; the names, the faces and the places in vogue... In Vogue: 50 Years of Australian Style is a stunning visual journey of Vogue in Australia and a gorgeous document of a magazine’s confident coming of age.”


Vogue Australia has been committed to educating and engaging its readers since it started as a supplement to British Vogue in 1956. This book, dedicated to 'every talented individual associated with Vogue Australia over the decades', looks back over the first fifty years of the magazine - highlighting the ways in which society has changed and how this well known publication has changed with it. 

Vogue Australia took a large step in 1959, when it broke away from its British sister and became an 'edition of Vogue in its own right.’ The first Editor of Vogue Australia, Rosemary Cooper, proudly announced in her debut issue that 'There are now four Vogues. American Vogue, English Vogue, French Vogue and Vogue Australia...We, ourselves, are thrilled that Vogue Australia has grown up so quickly. We hope that you are, too."

In the foreword written by Kirstie Clements and Lee Tulloch, we are told that more than 600 existing issues of the magazine were sifted through to create this book. 

"...Our ambition was to show the evolution of Vogue Australia over fifty years in a cultural as much as a fashion sense. It's striking just how much of the magazine, right from the beginning, was devoted to words as well as pictures, and in those words are encapsulated a vibrant record of Australian social history." 

Before the rise of the Internet and the obvious influences brought about by globalisation, magazines had a duty of connecting locals with the world. Vogue Australia opened our eyes to the European and American fashion worlds, and showed that fashion could transcend borders. This book documents the ebbs and flows of fashion trends throughout time, and highlights how various trends have been recycled, or 'referenced' over the years. It is pregnant with stylish women, vibrant colour and timeless glamour. 

What strikes me when reading this book is how strongly health and fitness were embraced and celebrated throughout these 50 years of Vogue Australia – particularly in the decades leading up to the millennium. The women featured exude health; they are often smiling in the photographs, and are captured outdoors taking part in some form of sport or leisurely activity – or at least pretending to in front of the camera. 

The book is filled with fashion spreads embodying everything quintessential of Australian lifestyle at the time. The images are drenched in sunshine, often set by the beach or in the Australian countryside. Freckles adorn the faces of sun kissed beauties, and one can easily be seduced by not just the clothing, but also the lifestyle that these 'characters' lead. 

When describing what made Australian Vogue unique to Australia, Fashion stylist and editor Nancy Pilcher said, "I suppose we worked outside a lot, we had the beautiful sun and the landscapes and the beaches to work with. June (McCallum, former Editor-in-Chief) and Patrick (Russell, former photographer and Creative Director) were on a mission to create something very Australian and different and fresh. Together, we created the spirit of Australian Vogue, getting great looking young Australians, men and women, and making them look energetic whatever they did."

Photographers, both local and international, that contributed over the years to the magazine include the notorious Helmut Newton, Norman Parkinson, Cecil Beaton, Richard Bailey, Patrick Russell, Deborah Turbeville, Karl Lagerfeld, Graham Shearer, and Monty Coles. They all have very different points of view and style - which helps the magazine develop over the years and offer something new/fresh to its readers. 

Something that I think is important to note is Vogue Australia's commitment (and that of many other fashion magazines during these decades) to featuring models on its covers instead of ‘celebrities’. Celebrity culture, whilst still prominent, was nowhere near as saturated as it is now, and famous actresses on the covers were not such a drawcard. Models, in many ways, were considered celebrities in their own right, and there was much greater value placed on professional ‘coat hangers’ showcasing the clothing of prominent designers. 

I wasn’t born until the later chapters of this book, but I am somewhat overwhelmed by nostalgia when turning its pages. This magazine reflects the changes in society and in cultural attitudes, as it is clearly influenced by the developments in politics, sex, money, art, music, film and an array of other significant factors. Not having lived through many of these years, I felt that I learned something about Australian history purely through flicking through these pages. 

This book is a wonderful look at how society has changed and how the 'ideal beauty' has gone through many transformations. It chronicles Australia's love of fashion over five decades, and showcases the evolution of Australian women. If nothing else, it highlights the fact that Vogue is more than just a beauty/fashion magazine - it is a celebration of women and a platform for women to embrace both substance and style.  


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