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En Vogue

Vogue magazine takes its name from the French phrase ‘en vogue’, meaning ‘in fashion/style’.  Vogue started life in 1892 in USA as a weekly newspaper with the intended audience being the American aristocracy; America had glamour and showmanship but wanted to emulate Britain’s class and style.  The title may have been a consequence of the fact that during that time, both the USA and Britain looked to Paris for their fashion guidance.  Condé Nast bought Vogue in 1905 and changed it to a bi-weekly publication. It was as late as 1973 that it became a monthly publication.

The British edition of Vogue was first published in autumn 1916, so celebrates 100 years this year.  To mark the centenary, the National Portrait Gallery London has organised an exhibition entitled ‘Vogue 100: A Century of Style’ which runs from 11th February – 22nd May 2016.  The exhibition consists of some 280 prints from the Conde Nast archive and international collections.  The show is a who’s who of photographers, models and celebrities over the last century.  There have been over 1500 issues of Vogue to date and still it remains the authority on fashion.

Claudia Schiffer - Herb Ritts resized.jpg

Claudia Schiffer in Paris by Herb Ritts, 1989 ©Herb Ritts Foundation/Trunk Archive

For the exhibition I wore a navy long sleeve butterfly dress from Asos with a leather biker jacket from New Look to contrast with the girly butterflies and give the outfit an edge.  My shoes were some Mary Jane black patent shoes which I got in the Oasis sale and I absolutely adore the gold detail on the heels.  To match the shoes I accessorised with a beautiful gold and black box clutch from Aldo.  I had been admiring a very similar one from Biba but this one was a great find at half the price.  In my hair I had a navy suede alice band, the inspiration for which came from Chanel’s autumn/winter 2015 catwalk where the black ribbon was worn by their models. Ribbon always slides out of my hair so the alice band is a great alternative to achieve the same look. I also sported this trend in Hong Kong with a black leather alice band see previous blog.



BIBA version of clutch

Spot the difference?


black patent shoes

The exhibition was laid out with a room for each decade from the magazine’s birth up to the current day.  Many original images were used – with rips and scribbles to prove it.  The earliest surviving vogue print was one of an heiress to a Philadelphia banking fortune which featured in the third issue. There was also a long room which had laid out a copy of an issue from each year of Vogue’s production along with iconic images of models over the years displayed on the walls.  Vogue magazine has evolved over the decades and has seen some of the greatest defining fashion eras; the roaring 20’s, swinging 60’s and punk rock to name a few; what Vogue doesn’t know about fashion isn’t worth knowing and it is now considered by many to be “the fashion bible”.  Celebrities are desperate to feature on the cover.  As well as the exhibition being a tribute to fashion over the last century it is also a great overview of the key historical events in Britain with the tribute issue to each of the deaths of George VI, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana.  Cecil Beaton who proved to be a great asset to Vogue following his first published photo in 1924, covered the coronation of the Queen in July 1953.

There is somewhat of a lack of imagery from the early war years as in 1942 Vogue recycled the majority of its photographic prints to help the war effort.  Vogue was however vital to the morale of the home front and there were in depth reports about the war, showing a more serious side to Vogue.  The depth of report was not seen again until 1993 when Marie Colvin revisited post war Baghdad.  Post WWII, Norman Parkinson’s photos re-emphasised traditional values and signalled that the nation could once again think of prosperity.


Fashion is Indestructible by Cecil Beaton, 1941 © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd

Early editions of Vogue came with patterns for women to make clothes but as the art of dress making lost its popularity and people had a greater disposable income to use in shops, these disappeared.

In 1953 Vogue revealed a new fashion demographic in the young and developed ‘Young Idea’ pages.  This youth culture strengthened through the 50’s and 60’s and in 1955 Mary Quant and Alexander Plunket opened a boutique in Chelsea aimed specifically at the young, called Green Bazaar.  Mary Quant claims to have launched the mini skirt in the 1960’s, named after her favourite car and later popularised hot pants.  The 1960’s were a classless period.  For Vogue, David Bailey became another prominent photographer at this time which is much attributed to his special relationship to the model Jean Shrimpton.

Vogue is known for its firsts – with 1966 seeing Vogue use the first black cover model.  Vogue’s first colour cover was as early as 1932 by Edward Steichen and Vogue led the field with the finest quality colour pages.  Vogue.co.uk was launched in 1996 and the first digital issue of the magazine was launched for iPad in 2010.  In 1936 there was a shoot called ‘April comes to Paris’, which saw fashions modelled in the streets of Paris rather than in a studio and it was novelty to see clothes in everyday situations.  It’s interesting to see how fashion photography has changed with the advent of airbrushing and Photoshop.  There was a print at the exhibition of a swimsuit shoot in 1930’s and you can clearly see it was shot on a cold day as the model has goose bumps on her legs – something they would never show nowadays.

The magazine featured Christian Dior’s first collection in 1947.  In 1939 there was an interesting spread entitled ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a waist’ showing the love affair Britain had with the corset. August 1994 saw the explosion of the Kate Moss phenomenon – an ordinary girl from Croydon and turned fashion on its head, changing the way we saw beauty and style.

My favourite cover was July 1926, Vogue constellation by Eduardo Benito and I was able to purchase a print of it in the store.

Following a couple of great hours spent immersed in the exhibition – my friend and I decamped to the gallery restaurant that overlooks Trafalgar square.  Despite the rain it was a lovely view of London and we enjoyed afternoon tea with a champagne cocktail each.




The first man to feature on the cover of UK Vogue was Manolo Blahnik in 1974.  Manolo Blahnik opened a new boutique in Burlington Arcade – only the second shop in the UK on 3rd Feb this year. I tried to get to the opening night cocktail evening but unfortunately it was already fully booked.  Would have been great to get a couple of quotes from him directly as my blog is named after him.  I did however visit the new store after the Vogue exhibition and it truly is a little bit of heaven.  I was almost intimidated by the luxury of the store and was anxious that my shoes, wet from the drizzle might mark the soft cream carpet.  I need not have felt anxious however as on entering the store, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful.  A lovely guy in purple Manolo’s showed us around the store. I pointed out my lovely wedding shoes as worn by Carrie in Sex and the City and he asked if I had worn them since.  He thought it hilarious when I replied only in the house and said ‘some people have slippers, you have Manolo’s!’  The store appears to be quite small until you make your way up a winding staircase to the second floor where more delights decorate the Victorian fireplace and shelves.  By far my favourite pair of shoes I saw was the rose bud sandals but at over £900 they are sadly out of my budget.



Manolo rose

It was a fantastic day out and inspired me to start colouring in my Vogue colouring book that I received for Christmas.  2015 saw the rise of the adult colouring book with at least 4 of them appearing in Amazon’s top 20 book sales.  It has been suggested that they can assist with mindfulness and I did find it surprisingly relaxing.


Vogue colouring book, ‘Love’ keyring as seen in first Sex and the City movie and a Yankee candle

Check out the Vogue exhibition whilst you can and they even do a combined ticket so that you can enjoy afternoon tea in the restaurant too.  It makes for a stylish girls day out.  Here’s to the next 100 years of Vogue!

Vogue 100: A Century of Style is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 11 February – 22 May 2016, sponsored by Leon Max.

I Believe in Pink

One sunny Saturday in July, my Mum and I visited the National Portrait Gallery in London to see an Audrey Hepburn exhibition. Audrey was a fashion and film star and according to People’s magazine one of the top 50 most beautiful women in the world. Perhaps what made her so beautiful was her innocence, shyness and vulnerability; she never saw herself as beautiful.

Audrey Hepburn by Bud Fraker, for ‘Sabrina’, Paramount Pictures, 1954

Audrey Hepburn by Bud Fraker, for ‘Sabrina’, Paramount Pictures, 1954

The exhibition documents the film stars life through more than 70 images, many previously unseen – consisting of photographs, film stills and vintage magazine covers. Also displayed are a pair of her leather ballet shoes.

Audrey Hepburn on location in Africa for The Nun’s Story by Leo Fuchs, 1958 ©Leo Fuchs

Audrey Hepburn on location in Africa for The Nun’s Story by Leo Fuchs, 1958 ©Leo Fuchs

Audrey died in 1993 in Switzerland with her two sons and partner by her side. Now, over 20 years later – she still remains an incredible icon; as an actress, a fasionista and a humanitarian for her work with UNICEF which she became a special ambassador of in 1988. She is a truly inspirational woman and a positive role model for women everywhere. After her death, Italian shoe designer, Salvatore Ferrugamo created a ballet pump style shoe named after her.

Audrey was born in 1929 in Belgium, although through her father she was a British Citizen. She was an accomplished ballet dancer who was dancing by the age of 5, however her ballet teachers deemed her too tall to make a profession of it.

Dance recital photograph by Manon van Suchtelen, 1942 ©Reserved

Dance recital photograph by Manon van Suchtelen, 1942 ©Reserved

Her father abandoned the family when she was young and he and her mother later divorced in 1935. In 1937 Audrey and her mother moved to Kent where she attended a small private school in Eltham. Upon the breakout of World War 2, Audrey and her mother fled to her mother’s native country, the Netherlands; falsely believing that they would be safer there. Audrey adopted a Dutch name so as to not stand out. They lived in Arnhem which I myself have visited and seen the bridge that was the centre of the battle of Arnhem; see previous blog. Audrey danced to raise money for the Dutch resistance and couriered letters for them. Times were hard with problems with supplies getting through and Audrey suffered malnutrition as well as depression. This perhaps inspired her later work with UNICEF. After the war they moved to Amsterdam. She then travelled to London where she continued with her study of ballet and also did some modelling.   In 1948 she became a chorus girl in London’s West End.

She had numerous small film roles during the early 50’s as well as becoming the face of Lux soap. The first thing people probably remember her for was her performance in Gigi on Broadway in 1951. In 1953 she landed the lead role in a film called Roman Holiday for which she received numerous awards and this could be said to have launched her career.

For me one of her most famous roles was as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s which was at the height of Audrey’s career in 1961. There were people that thought her taking this role was risky due to the characters loose morals. The film is about transformation and the American dream and of course Audrey’s own life can be seen to have followed a Cinderella theme as did many of her film roles.

Image courtesy of The Daily Mail

Image courtesy of The Daily Mail

Her relationship with Givenchy, the Parisian courtier began with the film Sabrina, when pre-production in 1953 she visited him in Paris and used some of his samples for her character in the film. He was never given credit for Sabrina but Audrey made sure his name was always mentioned on her future films. She had a unique style and knew what features she wanted to emphasis; as Chanel says ‘Fashion changes, but style endures’.  What began as a business relationship became much more than that and they remained friends right up until her death. She often described him as her psychiatrist. My favourite picture from the exhibition was this one of her in a pink Givenchy dress.

Audrey Hepburn photographed wearing Givenchy by Norman Parkinson, 1955 © Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Audrey Hepburn photographed wearing Givenchy by Norman Parkinson, 1955 © Norman Parkinson Ltd/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

For this day I wore a pair of wide leg trousers from Oasis. These form part of their current collection which is a collaboration with the V&A museum (a museum close to my heart since the Alexander McQueen exhibition and Shoes: Pleasure and Pain ).  The museum gave Oasis some historical prints from its archives for them to bring to life in a new collection. This particular print is an 18th century print by London-based designer, William Kilburn. I coordinated this with a simple pink vest top from Oasis as I wanted the trousers to be the stand out piece of the outfit. For shoes I matched the background navy colour with these navy, suede Mary Janes which my Mum kindly treated me to in M&S on one of our shopping trips. I like to match shoes and bag and this navy Hobo, also from Oasis is stylish as well as practical – with room for all your bits and bobs. The outfit was finished off with my tribute to Audrey Hepburn – a small tiara like the one Holly wears in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Unfortunately I didn’t quite master the beehive to match.





I wanted to also share my Mum’s outfit of the day as I thought that she looked great too. She wore some beautiful LK Bennett shoes with an M&S blue broderie anglaise dress and accessorized with a LK Bennett clutch bag.


After the exhibition; we continued the glamour and got a black cab to Doubletree by Hilton, Westminster hotel where we enjoyed a pink afternoon tea. We were greeted with pink champagne and our tea was then brought out in a wooden box which didn’t really have the same appeal as the tiered cake stands which are usually provided. Unfortunately this was not one of my favourite teas – being somewhat of an afternoon tea queen as there were only a few sandwiches and the cakes were not really to my taste. The pink theme was consistent however, as along with the usual assortment of sandwiches and scones, there was a pink cone with cream in it, a tart with a pink macaroon on and a champagne truffle sprinkled with pink sugar. I have to admit it was good value for money given that it was under £30 for the two of us.



All in all we had a lovely day as we always do when we get together.

There are many famous quotes from Audrey, my favourite being ‘nothing is impossible, even the word says I’m possible.’ My inspiration for the title of this blog came from the quote ‘I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.’ If this quote isn’t a mantra for all women to live their lives by then I don’t know what is.

The Audrey exhibition runs until 18th October and is definitely worth a visit.