Vogue 100 - A Century of Style

Exhibition Review: Vogue 100 – A Century of Style

  • Bringing an air of sophistication and allure to the spirit-dampening autumn gloom in Manchester, Vogue 100: A Century of Style celebrates British Vogue’s 100th anniversary and is free for all to enjoy at Manchester Art Gallery

A collaborative curation by Vogue’s contributing editor Robin Muir and The National Portrait Gallery, the show was recently transferred from a popular run in London and brings with it the same dazzlingly creative bang. The exhibition features the famous faces of The Beatles, David and Victoria Beckham, David Bowie, Fred Astaire, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss right down to Princess Diana and even Margaret Thatcher.

Pictures of remarkable calibre from some of the most influential photographers over the last decade are prevalent throughout the entire exhibit. To name a few: David Bailey, Corinne Day, Irving Penn and Cecil Beaton. Along with periodic garments by the world’s leading fashion houses – Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent – Vogue 100 boasts not only its impressive look book but more the sheer beauty publications can bring to such attires.

Vogue give outfits a narrative. Anyone who has a slight interest in fashion would surely agree how the magazine used its immense clout to modernise the way us consumers visualise clothes. This impact has progressed to a degree that involves people buying into the story within their images rather than the actual clothing presented.

Now, I know what many are thinking: “This show is just going to be full of old portraits.”

Far from it.

On entrance to the exhibition, a three-walled, almost three-dimensional cinematic of celebrities such as Cara Delevigne, Brooklyn Beckham and Gigi Hadid certainly abolishes any such scepticisms. The show takes visitors on a journey from the initial handcrafted editions through the ever-rocking sixties, World War 2, past the opulent age of jazz, 90s era and concludes with present day Vogue.

On a more contentious note, the exhibition does little to address the magazine’s over-inclusion of underweight models and reported under-inclusion of black models. Naomi Campbell is one of few black models featured in the show – who is thought to be a catalyst in the alteration of this notorious controversy.

Someone who does appear frequently throughout the display: Kate Moss. Arguably Britain’s most famous face in fashion, the model was scouted at the age of 14 and transported British Vogue to the superior publication it is today. There’s no denying that Moss looks simply divine from every angle – posed or candid.

As well as curating a full artistic spectacle, the team selected a magazine from each year of the last decade – and two utilising the photographic triumphs of Josh Olins’ portrayals of Kate Middleton – in order to craft a unique library of 101 Vogue editions.

Did I mention this was free?

Vogue have surpassed the cliché realms of just putting celebrities on the front cover with nice clothes. Rather, they have fashioned story arcs that pulsate through each publication, allowing a further depth of strikingly distinctive artworks to be appreciated.

Manchester Art Gallery is currently showing Mary Quant: Fashion Icon until 5th November 2017.