In Review

Glossy: the inside story of Vogue by Nina-Sophia Miralles 

From its founding in New York in 1892 to the present day, Miralles tells the history of the ‘top glossy’ 

Glossy: The inside story of Vogue by Nina-Sophia Miralles

This “admirably researched” book tells the story of the world’s “top glossy”, said Anne de Courcy in The Spectator. Founded in New York in 1892, Vogue started out as a small-scale affair, nearly foundering in its early years. In 1909, it was bought by the publishing “genius” Condé Nast, who set about turning it into a “female-centred, class-based, shiny-paper magazine” designed to lure women who could afford luxury goods. In 1914, Nast installed the “legendary Edna Woolman Chase” as editor-in-chief – a position she held for 38 years. An indefatigable promoter of the Vogue image, Chase made it compulsory for female staff to wear white gloves and hats in the office, and once told off an editor who had attempted suicide with the words: “We at Vogue don’t throw ourselves under subway trains, my dear. If we must, we take sleeping pills.” 

In 1963, the notoriously autocratic Diana Vreeland took over as editor-in-chief, said Anna Murphy in The Times. Her run-throughs were “like feeding lambs to a lion”, reported a colleague: “more than one editor threatened to throw herself out of a window”. Vreeland also commissioned the most expensive photo shoot in Vogue’s history: “five weeks up a mountain in Japan”, costing more than $1m. This book really “comes into its own” when it reaches the modern day, said Hermione Eyre in Literary Review. Being unburdened by “insider access or status”, Miralles writes with unusual honesty about American Vogue’s long-standing current editor, the fearsome Anna Wintour, and her counterpart on the British edition, Edward Enninful. The latter, she says, has made British Vogue vastly more radical and racially diverse – but still happily favours cover stars with close links to Condé Nast’s directors. “Plus ça change.”

Quercus 352pp £20; The Week Bookshop £15.99

Glossy: The inside story of Vogue by Nina-Sophia Miralles
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