Vogue 100: A Century of Style – Exhibition Review

This week launched the new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery called Vogue 100: A Century of Style.

As you can image there were hordes of people wanting to get a glimpse of the internationally acclaimed magazine’s 100th anniversary exhibition. Me included.

As you entered the exhibition space you were met with strips of, what some would say are the best magazine covers of their kind, some were certainly beautiful and while looking around I hear a few people point out their favourites.

After the entrance way you walked into a long hall way, with a box room set up as a mirrored video display. This was one of the best pieces from the exhibition as it showed the models behind the scenes. Some shoots were more prescribed than others, but the shoots that made me smile, where the ones where the models were relaxed, having fun or playing the piano. It reminds me that true beauty isn’t in a staged photo with heavy lighting, but captured in those small moments of laugher and joy.

The rest of the exhibition is set up like a timeline in reverse. Showing you prints and pictures from the last 10 decades explaining the influence and inspiration for the time. Minimalisticly displayed to emphasise the images.

And yes, there were many, many images of Kate Moss.

Another part of the exhibition that was more than pictures from a decade, was a slideshow of a series of pictures taken from a shoot, that would have been decided between for set pages in the magazines. This was intereting as you got to see the minor differences in what could have been a Vogue cover photo. I think I would have liked to have had it as a feature with sound, even if pretend sound, that talked about the decision making process for each image e.g. ‘I’m not sure about the angle of her head in this shot, it looks forced’, or ‘they look more intimate with the shadows slightly over them in front of the sunset’.

One of the most informational rooms was that of the time line of key events. Showing employment of key figures, movement of office blocks, release of key magazines marking poignant moments in the magazines history.

The room that I image has the most interest to the majority of people would be the magazine time line. To have every magazine in there would have been quite unimaginable actually, but to have even one from each year was fantastic. The shining glory had to be the first ever Vogue magazine, a world apart from what we see stacked on corner shop shelves today, with its hard back cover and puppet show printed cover art, it is more like a book than a magazine.

My favourite style of voice covers are the ones with different vogue lettering, that fits in with the cover art. I think it is a shame in some ways, that the cover art has become cluttered with words and statements, written to draw people’s attention, rather than intrigue their interest in fashion.

I would also like to see an inclusion of fashion illustrations on the covers of vogue, I guess because for me, celebrity endorsement isn’t important and that illustration is a key creative aspect of the fashion industry, it hints to an idea that hopes to be, and is fulfilled when the item is completed.

Over all I can say this was a great exhibition for those who are die hard fans of Vogue. And any person interested in fashion, photography and portraiture should have a look. However if you don’t fall into one of these categories, I have been to more captivating exhibitions for a lot less money.


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