My book review of 'Glossy: The Inside Story of Vogue' by Nina-Sophia Miralles
Glossy: The Inside Story of Vogue
Having worked for magazines, I'm always interested in learning stories behind the scenes.
Who were the people responsible, what was their motivation and their passion, what were the challenges that were faced, and how did the publication reflect the society on which it reported, reflected and directed its readers?
It's 128 years since the first copy of 'Vogue' was conceived and it now reaches some 12 million readers in print, 67 million online, in 22 countries. It is one of the most recognisable brands in the world, but how did it become such a success?
This book gives a stunning sprint through the milestones of the 'Vogue' story. There are details of the war years and its role in empowering women. There are the power struggles at the helm, the competition with rival publications, the determination to lead rather than follow. And of course, the characters involved, notably model, photographer and war reporter Lee Miller, and the formidable, indomitable editors themselves, including Anna Wintour, Liz Tilberis and Alexandra Shulman.
It's a fascinating read, particularly for the anecdotes and passing comments on how the magazine and its team responded to the demands of society through the generations - Mrs Exeter was a voice created in the 1940s to speak to the 'older woman', models were hard to find in wartime because their husbands or fiancés would urge them to evacuate to the countryside, and indeed bringing out a luxury magazine in the Biitz was "rather like dressing for dinner in the jungle" according to an editor at the time.