Inimitable Style: Fashion Illustration vs. Fashion Photography in 1914 Vogue

In 1914, modern fashion photography, as we know and love it today, was still in its very nascent, experimental phase. Photographers such as Edward Steichen and Baron Adolph de Meyer had demonstrated the artistic possibilities of the medium but it would be years before their influences would be  overwhelming felt within the pages of fashion magazines. (Indeed, Vogue would not produce its first photographic cover until 1932.) The majority of fashion photography throughout the Teens was commercial and static. But fashion illustration, then an equally, if not more, dominant medium for the dissemination of fashion, more than made up for any of photography’s artistic shortcomings. The medium had undergone a dramatic stylistic shift thanks to two seminal works, by Paul Iribe and Georges Lepape entitled Les Robes de Paul Poiret (1908) and Les Choses de Paul Poiret vues par Georges Lepape (1911), respectively, which validated fashion illustration as a means of artistic expression, both in luxury, limited-edition fashion albums and on the covers of mass-produced fashion magazines. Fashion illustration had become an art form. No where is this perhaps more evident then on the covers of Vogue magazine, who employed some of the era’s leading fashion illustrators in creating the visually compelling work that would define the Art Moderne and Art Deco eras.

Cover of Vogue magazine by Helen Dryden, April 1, 1914.

Cover of Vogue magazine by Helen Dryden, April 1, 1914.

Two of the leading American illustrators of this school of hybrid artist/fashion illustrator types were Helen Dryden and George Wolfe Plank whose oeuvre for Vogue is prolific. Between the years of 1910 and 1930, Dryden produced over eighty covers for the magazine, while Plank produced over sixty. So celebrated where their distinctive styles, that Vogue magazine made a photographic attempt to reproduce them in their May 15, 1914 issue, as seen here. But unlike the success Steichen found when mirroring the illustrations of his contemporaries, the photographs, taken of society women at a charity event held at the Waldorf-Astoria, fall incredibly short. Everything about the photographs, from the set designs to the costumes to the women’s clothing and blank expressions, fail to invoke the spirit and allure of the enchanting illustrations they are meant to imitate. Judge for yourself below.

1914.5.5 vogue covers in society tableaux

Photographic reproduction of a Vogue cover by Helen Dryden.

Illustration by Helen Dryden for the cover of Vogue, November 1, 1913.

Illustration by Helen Dryden for the cover of Vogue, November 1, 1913.

Photographic reproductions of Vogue covers by George W. Plank.

Photographic reproductions of Vogue covers by George W. Plank.

Vogue cover by George W. Plank, March 1914

Vogue cover by George W. Plank, March 1914.

Vogue cover by George W. Plank, November 1911.

Vogue cover by George W. Plank, November 1911.

All images found on the Vogue Archive via ProQuest, an invaluable keyword searchable archive which includes access to not only Vogue but The New York Times.

The Art of Dress: Marion Cotillard for Dior Magazine no. 1, September 2012

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Cotillard modeling the iconic “Bar Suit” from Dior’s debut 1947 collection.

Marion+Cotillard+Dior+Magazine+First+Issue+2“It’s another way to communicate luxury,” said Dior’s Chief Executive Sidney Toledano on the debut of Dior Magazine in 2012, “This is not a catalogue. It’s fresh and modern. It’s how we see ourselves; our own maison. I think it translates perfectly the mood of the company right now.” Actress Marion Cotillard, who has worked with Dior since 2008, was a natural choice for the magazine’s cover, as she inarguably possesses the same timeless, magnetic beauty of the fashion models of the 1950s, the era when Christian Dior reigned King of Fashion. Photographed by Jean-Baptiste Modino, Cotillard models the iconic Dior originals that made Dior an internationally sought after couturier. Arguably, no fashion designer is more synonymous with a single era than Dior is with the 1950s. While the influence and celebrity of such renowned designers as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent was extended over many years in their long careers, Dior’s premature death in 1957 confined his personal contributions to a mere ten years. Yet so strong was his vision that his house and his legacy has lived on into the modern era, where the brand remains synonymous with the highest level of luxury and sophistication. More on Christian Dior’s career can be found on the Art of Dress here. Marion+Cotillard+Dior+Magazine+First+Issue+4 Marion+Cotillard+Dior+Magazine+First+Issue+6 Marion+Cotillard+Dior+Magazine+First+Issue+5Marion+Cotillard+Dior+Magazine+First+Issue+3Marion+Cotillard+Dior+Magazine+First+Issue+7 Quote sourced here. All images sourced here.