Actions and Detail Panel
‘Dark Victory’ 1939-45: When Vogue Came of Age
Thu 15 September 2016, 18:00 – 19:30 BST
Robin Muir, curator of Vogue 100: A Century of Style, assesses the impact of the war years on the magazine.
The war years were the making of Vogue. Paper was rationed more strictly than sugar and meat, but the magazine was considered vital to the morale of the home front. As Vogue put it, ‘we believe that women’s place is Vogue’s place. And women’s first duty, as we understand it, is to preserve the arts of peace by practicing them…’ At Britain’s darkest hour the quality of its war coverage, both at home and abroad, set it apart from other publications. Tapping into a spirit of neo-romanticism that promoted the virtues of the countryside, its traditions and simpler ways of life, Norman Parkinson made ‘documentary’ fashion pictures. Cecil Beaton travelled the world tirelessly as a photographer for the Ministry of Information and Vogue secured the best of his photographs ahead of the newspapers. But it was the unlikely figure of the American Lee Miller, a former Vogue model and pupil of Man Ray, who gave the magazine a dimension unimaginable at the outbreak of war. She became its very own war correspondent in words and pictures honed by an artist’s eye. On the home front with cosmetics a distant memory and hair shorter and greyer, when stockings were banned and while the battle raged on, Vogue was watching and waiting and helping. ‘Once more we raise the ‘carry on’ signal as proudly as a banner…’