Vogue is one of the most widely known magazines established in America first as a weekly publication, with content based around the topics of: fashion, beauty, culture, living, and runway. It has since become a monthly publication and has expanded out internationally to create 22 editions. The name Vogue translates as “style” in French. The magazine was described by book critic Caroline Weber in the December 2006 publication of The New York Times as “the world’s most influential fashion magazine”.
The first edition of Vogue began in 1892, founded by an American business man called Arthur Baldwin Turnure. The initial pricing for the magazine was set at 10 cents, targeted at the upper class in New York. It aimed to “celebrate the ceremonial side of life”, recording and spreading how the upper class lived in terms of their fashion, leisure, activities, social gatherings and places they had visited. Similar to today’s magazines, it aimed to encourage people to look up to their way of life, create trends and influence how people lived their lives. Magazines encourage readers/ potential readers to want to become part of this exclusive circle which is today becoming broader to make those in a lower class follow and try and copy celebrity culture.
Until the magazine was taken over by Conde Naste Publishers in 1909, the magazine had been targeted towards both upper class men and women. The content was then becoming more focused on the female reader; the content was increased as was the price. Until then, the magazine had been about etiquette and reviews of books, plays and music as a social publication. After this transition, content became more focused on fashion and lifestyle.
In the initial publications of the magazine, illustration was widely used on their covers which then changed in 1932 when the first colour photograph was used taken by Edward Steichen.
In July 1988, Vogue acquired a new editor; Anna Wintour who aimed to refresh the magazine to become more “approachable and younger”. She became the pioneer for the new era of the magazine and still holds the position of Vogue editor today. The magazine became more about what the masses could afford. Before she had become editor, the magazine had been criticized for being boring and was described as “beige”. During this time, one of the magazines competitors today “Elle” was becoming more popular and Vogue had begun to lose out some of their business. This would have undoubtedly encouraged a “shake-up” in their design to combat this.
The influence of today’s technology has meant the Vogue has expanded their content into digital formats in the form of a website and an app. The app has new content every day and people can choose to receive content recommended just for their taste. This ensures that readers find what they are looking for and are actually interested in making the experience easier and more readily available for being on the go as lifestyles become more fast paced and information delivery becomes more fast paced. Trends and content can become old news very quickly, so therefore having the ability to post quickly is a great advantage.
I have been exploring the September 2017 Edition of the Vogue magazine, analyzing the layout, content and design features. I think that it is interesting to see how particular content is laid out to focus your eye towards certain information/ content and what influence certain layouts have on how the reader interacts with the material.
Vogue uses serif fonts for titles, headings, body text and captions which look traditional, decorative and stylish which matches the magazines history and topics that it covers. In terms of readability, serif font has often been considered to be more readable than sans-serif fonts. Serif typefaces are also said to increase reading speed of long passages of text because they help the eye travel across a line. This is especially true if lines are long or have relatively open word spacing which vogue uses with its justified type for paragraphs of body text. However, there are also a wide range of different typefaces used within the magazine due to the extensive addition of adverts using the typeface of the brand so therefore typographic use is varied throughout the pages.
Justified text creates straight, neat lines along the edges of a passage of text. To justify your text you add white space between the words in each line so that all the lines are of equal length. Justifying text helps to guide the readers eye down the page to encourage them to carry on reading. Creating this neat and sharp lines also creates a traditional look and implies impressions of status or prestige meaning readers gain trust and view the content as professional and reliable.
From looking at the ratio of text to image on the spreads, I found that there is more of a focus on photography and the magazine is mainly visual, often because of the high frequency of advertising of fashion brands. Use of images is often large/ full page which forms a striking and bold visual to grab the readers’ attention. Some spreads also make use of a border of whitespace around the image which helps to direct the eye inwards. Using this bordering also helps to create statement which is best used when the image uses a dark colour scheme to contrast against the white background.
Variation of layout for the images is very important in ensuring that the reader does not get bored or tired. Creating different organisations for pages keep the reader guessing and adds an element of surprise to keep them turning the page.
Many of the pages used central alignment, particularly then using the white border for smaller images which is a traditional style and creates a focal point of one page of the spread. However, on some of the adverts, the images are aligned further to the left or right with a vertical block of white space usually implementing the brand name in the corner of the page which become more dynamic and encourages the reader to turn the page.
When there is a larger passage of text to read, a drop cap is often placed at the beginning which helps to direct the readers eye to begin their reading journey. This use of hierarchy highlights to the reader that it is an important section to read (the main text). Vogue continuously use a lower case for their “drop cap” which is slightly less impactful then an upper case and also creates a trademark feature recognisable as their magazine.
On pages where there is both text and image the content is usually split up into 3 vertical sections which provides order and continuity so the reader finds the reading experience easy to follow and repeat. Having these smaller column widths is able to make the reading feel inviting and less overwhelming. The grid seems as if it would have 7 columns to align content. It is said that using odd numbers “creates visual interest. An odd number of details is more effective at capturing your gaze. Odd numbers force your eyes to move around so you are therefore more likely to remember things.
In this spread, the designer has made use of a large photograph using black, greys and green creating a neat rectangle in the centre of the left page. Having this one image helps not to distract our attention away and to be bold and striking to gain that attention easily as the focal point of the spread. The use of white space as a border round the image helps to draw the eye inwards and helps to surround the content as being related and grouped. The use of whitespace in the right corner and surrounding the spread helps to create breathing space to allow the reader to intake the information easily and to not feel overwhelmed by content. The body text has again been split into 3 small manageable columns which mean that the reader might be more likely to read the passages. There is a clear hierarchy between the text components on the page as the heading is made very large to introduce the piece with an italicised description of the passage to allow the reader to decide if it is something they are interested in. The body text is then justified to draw the eye downwards for easy reading experience and a column width containing about 40 characters. Optimum column widths for magazines is often found to be between 38 and 45 characters as too short and the readers could get tired from keep having to move back and forth and too long and it can be more difficult to follow and readers can get lost when moving onto the next line. Therefore, this column width should be more relaxing and easier on the eye.
This spread is an example of one that has lots of content with a combination of text and image which work together to create a cohesive piece. Firstly, the use of the overlapping images on the left page create dimension and depth. The use of the dark textured pattern against the light sky on the photograph creates great contrast to be striking and emphasise the sharp, neat edges which looks clean and professional. Text and image are lined up to create structure and order to be easily followed and provide a clear journey for the eye to explore the content. The white boxes over the photograph on the right page creates an element of interest and is unexpected. Its high contrast allows it to stand out and this also allows it to be obvious what the text is referring to by its proximity to the image and the cues that point to specific areas of the image. The designer has also separated the content through the use of a dotted line embellished with a plane icon which draws the readers eye back left to the next paragraph of text and is also hinting about the theme of the next section. Although there is quite a bit of content on the page, it is easy to navigate through the alignment of text and image as well as the visual cues which are able to direct the eye through the spread.