Vogue, December 15, 1915

I love vintage fashion magazines, and one of the things I love the most is the cover art.  From the 1910 and into the 1930s, covers were illustrations instead of photographs, with some of the best commercial artists of the times working for Harper’s Bazar, Vogue, and other fashion and women’s magazines.

The illustration above is by artist Helen Dryden who did many covers and inside illustrations for Vogue during the 1910s and early 1920s.  Dryden had been trained as a landscape artist, but gave it up for fashion and Conde Nast.  Later in life she turned to industrial design and worked designing decorative objects for the home, as well as car interiors.

But it is for images like the one here that Dryden is best remembered.  I love how the focus is on the lighting of the tree, even though there is a nod to the more commercial aspect of Christmas as you can see in the gifts scattered on the floor, in the background really.  But my favorite part is the dog, a feature that is not immediately noticed, but which adds so much to the feeling of the picture.

Contrast this 1915 cover with that of the 2014 December Vogue.  It is a photograph of the celebrity of the month, Amy Adams, wearing a sheer Valentino couture dress.  Out of the five headlines on the cover, three of them are about celebrities, including Kendell Jenner of the family formerly scorned by Anna Wintour (the Kardashian/Jenners), but now being praised to the hilt for their selling power.

To some degree Vogue has been about celebrity since it was first published in 1892.  This 1915 issue has article on the Ballet Russes, a feature on the latest stars in the theater, and photos of the latest society brides.  But the great majority of the editorial pages are all about fashion, exactly what one might hope to find in a fashion magazine.


Filed under Fashion Magazines, Viewpoint

4 responses to “Vogue, December 15, 1915

  1. Oh, Lizzie what a special find! the covers really should be framed!? Years ago i found an entire collection of antique Vanity Fair English Gentlemans fashion cover prints Vanity Fair(Brooks Day Co.) 28 of them from dating from late 1870’s-1900-i had them framed o protect them…and later lined the walls of my office in New York(i was fashion dir. for fashion ad agency) it was expensive – but nothing compared to the value of the covers! Ms. Wintour is a a very “special” case! Not as “special” as she thinks she is!? She takes herself way too seriously-always has-she really needs to stop marketing herself…that is as simple as it gets!!!???


  2. Lovely–and thank you for the information about Helen Dryden. I’m going to try to figure out what she wore!


  3. I no longer buy Vogue after being an avid reader for 30 years. Anna’s Vogue looks the same with her Index section and then appalling last page with some frippery that is unwearable and atrociously expensive. I think Amy Adams cover, however, was the prettiest since Kate Moss’ in the orchid dress a few Septembers ago. I cannot stand the celebs and the ugliness-for-shock. Sorry to be so blatant…

    Your Vogue here is beautiful. I own many vintage ones myself. When I crave fashion and beauty, I turn to those copies instead.


  4. Christina

    Helen Dryden’s illustrations are wonderful. Unfortunately, The very brief bios about her make her history illusive. There is a good interview about her in Bruno’s Weekly in 1916 “Helen Dryden:Witch of Color.”


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