the vibrant line
Top: April 13, 1929, Eduardo Garcia Benito; January 2007; 2nd row: March 1, 1949, Marcel Vertes; October 1, 1941, Carl Erickson; December 15, 1936, Jean Pages; 3rd row: December 15, 1932 Erickson; October 1, 1935, Benito; July 15, 1939, Erickson; Bottom: December 1, 1938, Benito
I stumbled on a limited but truly enthralling collection of Vogue covers in the Condé Nast Store. Images available are heavy on the 1920s and 30s, with nothing past the late 1950s, but the offerings are well worth a detour over.
I was quite familiar with the (beautiful) covers of the Twenties. I had studied fashion for a bit, interned briefly at the Met's Costume Institute, and I still have a few books of fashion art. However, nothing prepared me for the brilliant, daring, effortlessly vibrant art of the 30s and 40s covers. The covers in the second row above, especially, are amazingly risky: The strange spiky bird for "Spring," autumnal passing legs--shod in non-descript day wear no less!, and what looks like a pre-saging of Pearl Harbor but is in fact meant to evoke a cruise ship steaming its way toward glamorous shores for the "Resort Issue." Unusual vantage points, edgy color choices (brown! with fluorescent pink!) and not a celebrity in the bunch. How dull and and flaccid that Angelina Jolie cover is--merely a vehicle for the headline text and a wrapper for the ads. A predictable end product of demographic surveys, publicity campaigning, and marketing pronouncements.
I virtually never buy "women's" magazines anymore and I probably haven't picked up Vogue since the nineties. I do remember illustrators having quite a high profile in the eighties: Mats, Stavrinos, Antonio, Viramontes. What is happening today? And the oddly alienating and irrelevant drawings used in newspaper advertising for stores like Macy's and Lord & Taylor until, what 10 years ago? are they still being used? That was like the dry husk of fashion illustration. What I wonder is: Did true fashion illustration die without my noticing?