Vogue Covers – Then & Now: It’s not about art anymore

Remember when models were on the cover of Vogue?
Remember when models were on the cover of Vogue?

If you haven’t heard Kim Kardashian made it on to the cover of Vogue magazine April issue (with Kanye right behind her). The cover has generated more negative comments then one can shake a tube of lipstick at.  (Full disclosure, I’m not a fan of any of the Kardashians, nor of reality television. ) The photo spread was done by Annie Leibovitz but her signature style seems to be all but missing. It’s just Kim looking vapid and uninteresting. Not even photoshop can help there.

21st century magazines are about ad revenue, not so much circulation revenue. Advertisers want to be in magazines with a Kardashian or as Vanity Fair did, give a spread to the Yoga Butt Lady not because its art but, because it generates people to the website, Facebook page etc. Remember when Time had the Breast Feeding Lady on the cover?  It gets shares, likes, hearts, rabid comments  and keeps the magazine, the advertisers associated and  names in the feeds.   It’s all about buzz and trying to keep peoples’ attention in the age of distraction.  

There is a video with the photos of Kim and Kanye. When you click on the video there might be an ad there if only for a couple of seconds. If the video gets a million views, their ad just got a million views too. And, advertisers will pay big bucks for that.

On Vogue’s Facebook page commentator after commentator said they were leaving Vogue and not renewing.  The reality is that unless the advertisers leave, or consumers raise a ruckus fashion magazines like Vogue will continue to place trends above anything else simply because, good or bad it makes money.

I think what irked people, myself included, is that we thought that Anna would hold firm. That she would not allow Kim to grace the cover of Vogue just because that’s what Kim wants. It was refreshing to see someone ‘stand up’ to those who think they deserve something simply because they exist.

If anything my view of Anna has dimmed as low as the lights in Kim’s sex tape.  

Anyhoo, here are some lovely vintage covers of a bygone time when art, taste and sophistication were the cover girls. Enjoy! And, you can enjoy more vintage magazine cover art on our Pinterest boards.

Vogue cover 1934 Schiaparelli
Vogue cover 1934 Schiaparelli
Vogue 1944 - Dali
Vogue 1944 – Dali
William Bolen 1932
William Bolen 1932
Vogue April 1957
Vogue April 1957
Vogue Summer 1957 British edition
Vogue Summer 1950 British edition


  1. LOL, I’m laughing at the truth about the critique of Kim Kardashian on Vogue… claiming Lebovitz’s style was missing, Kim looking “vapid and uninteresting’ as usual? Didn’t Leibovitz actually get it right?!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Too right, featured celebrities meant the death of the high art of fashion photography and fashion design.

    I’ve been watching a lot of documentary bios of old classic designers like Halston, etc. And they all died of AIDS. It occurred to me that somewhere around 2003 the decimation the virus caused to art and creativity hit its apex. Causing all the uncreative queens who filled the large void to focus on celebrity because they didn’t have an eye for art.


  3. Thanks for the interesting post. Vogue should have been the standard bearer in keeping “fashion arts” in the fashion magazine.


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