I never realized when I started this blog, how curious I really am. It turns out that having to write something every week actually requires curiosity.
As those of you who are avid readers of my blog know, I have a copy of Vogue Magazine from 1946. It turns out to be a treasure trove of interesting things that stimulate my inquiring mind.
For instance, did you know that Vogue Magazine is actually credited with bringing the French Existentialist Writers, Sartre, Camus, and Beauvoir to America? Well, according to Existential America by George Cotkin, JHU Press, 2005, it was Vogue Magazine that introduced Americans to the these thinkers, publishing, “The New Writing in France” by Sartre in 1945.
And the famous Vogue photographer took Camus’ portrait for the magazine in 1946.
So, when did that all stop? My curiosity took me to the web, but I am disappointed to tell you that there is almost nothing written about literary content in Vogue Magazine (or any fashion magazine). Now there’s a Ph.D. dissertation in the making.
Actually, today’s fashion magazines don’t publish much of anything, literary or not. Last year, I started to subscribe to Harper’s Bazaar, mainly because they have a feature called, Fabulous at Every Age. But even that feature is becoming smaller and smaller. Here’s the list of articles in this month’s Harper’s: The Fashionable Life: Attilio Codognato (an Italian jeweler), Rachel Feinstein: What a Relief, which is really a fashion spread, Diamond and Platinum Skin Savers, and A Grand Return: Tatiana Sorokko, about the return of a model from the 1990’s to modeling. That’s it, folks.
And the features start at page 257. First there are 256 pages of advertisements.
Here’s the features in the July 1946 issue of Vogue: People are Talking About (snippets from current events), Garbo’s portrait by Cecil Beaton, Mrs Charles Sweeny, Mrs Henry Ford II (photos), India by Rumer Godden, a profile of the poet Marianne Moore, by Marguerite Young, an article about Congresswoman Margaret Chase Smith, The Crisis of Man, by Albert Camus, Just Idling Along by Daphne du Maurier, Maugham Epigrams and a feature on Maugham complete with another Cecil Beaton photo, and an article about displaced persons living in the Italian movie studio, Cinecitta, and some scenes from the play, Show Boat.
Have to ask, How Come? How come Vogue thought it good business for a fashion magazine to publish Sartre in the 1940’s and it no longer thinks it is good business to publish serious articles?
I mean it’s not as if women were more intellectual in the 1940’s then they are now. And it is certainly not as if the world women functioned in the 1940’s was more expansive than today. It was much less, in fact.
Ok, help me out. I don’t get it.