A magazine cover can say a lot about a publication: aesthetic, audience, category. It also says a lot about the time during which it was published. Vogue has been a powerhouse in the way we perceive fashion as a true art form, and has greatly contributed to modern pop culture in the 20th century. From illustrations and pictures of anonymous models to photographs of iconic supermodels – Vogue covers reveal so much about our cultural history. Enter editor-in-chief Anna Wintour who made use of the influencer obsessed world we live in today by letting celebrities, and not just models, grace the covers.
For decades, we watched the fashion world grow before our eyes; from an elitist industry to the increasingly diverse, inclusive space it is today. We curated 17 iconic Vogue covers that define each decade of fashion history and have made an overall impact on pop culture at the time.
Basically all Vogue covers that are more than 100 years old are pretty iconic if you ask me. Arthur Baldwin Turnure founded Vogue in 1892 as a weekly newspaper in the United States. Mr Condé Nast purchased Vogue in 1905 and established the magazine’s iconic brand that it has today.
For the first time in Vogue history, the July 1932 cover featured a photographed model instead of an illustration. Edward Steichen’s photograph of an unnamed model paved way for future covers and the history of fashion publications.
Jean Patchett’s April 1950 cover capture the beginning of an era in pop culture history with the emergence of Hollywood cinema starlets and fashion models.
Detroit-born model Donyale Luna was the first ever non-white cover girl star on the cover of Vogue, photographed by David Bailey.
The iconic model Twiggy appeared on her first Vogue cover in October 1967, photographed by Ronald Traeger.
Eight years after Donyale Luna became the first black model to appear on the cover of British Vogue, Beverly Johnson makes history by covering the magazine’s American edition.
Naomi Campbell’s first ever Vogue cover, shot by Patrick Demarchelier. She has since starred on eight covers.
We stan an inclusive editor-in-chief! Anna Wintour’s first September cover in 1989 went to Naomi Campbell.
Pictured above is Anna Wintour’s first cover, featuring the Israeli model Michaela Bercu in an haute couture Christian Lacroix jacket and stonewashed Guess jeans. According to Vogue, this is the first time a model has worn jeans on the cover of a fashion magazine.
Kate Moss appeared on her first ever Vogue cover for the March 1993 issue, photographed by Corinne Day. Since then, Moss has starred on 30 Vogue covers.
Anna Wintour’s tenure as editor-in-chief marked several shifts in the fashion industry, one of which was her affinity for putting A-lister celebrities on the covers. Renee Zellweger became the first celebrity during Anna Wintour’s tenure to grace the cover of a September issue. In fact, not a single model graced the September issue of Vogue US between 2004 and 2011.
The January 1990 cover photographed by Peter Lindbergh truly epitomises the iconic supermodel era, featuring Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford in simple 90’s normcore outfits.
The inauguration of US President Barack Obama, left a cultural imprint on American history, as the first black president. First lady, Michelle Obama, was closely followed by the press for her fashion stylings and designers of choice. Her March 2009 cover showcases her as a woman of style and power.
The May 2018 cover of British Vogue opens up a much needed conversation about diversity in the fashion industry. The models of different ethnicities and body types, dressed in neutral colours speaks much more to this topic.
With Rihanna gracing the cover of Vogue UK’s September issue and Beyoncé gracing the cover of Vogue US, it’s official: women of colour reigned supreme year 2018. Beyoncé was given free reign on the creative direction and vision for the cover story, so she commissioned 23-year-old Tyler Mitchell, making him the first ever African American photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue in its 125-year history.