Vogue in 1893: “Believe…only half of what you see!”

We love the admonition illustrated on the cover of the November 16, 1893 issue of Vogue that cautions the nascent deb in her dealings with potential suitors; the sentiment to “believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see,” seems to apply not only to matters of the heart, but also to the fashion—and fashion publishing—industry in its entirety.

This very early issue of Vogue (vol. II, no. 21, which was issued weekly at that time) is a recent acquisition, the earliest of our physical holdings of Vogue to date.   Most of you fashion historians out there already know that the entire run of Vogue was digitized and made available to the public via subscription by its publisher, Condé Nast, in 2011.  An individual subscription comes with hefty price tag of $1,575/year, however, the online database is offered at no cost through many libraries and educational institutions with a valid log-in.  FIT students and employees may access the Vogue Archive through the Gladys Marcus Library’s Database portal which is located on the library’s website.

While the keyword-searchable database has certainly changed the game in terms of the time-consuming and laborious nature of researching the history of fashion, there is ultimately no substitution for browsing the pages of the real thing.  Context, in many cases, is everything and the associations and connections made through looking at the illustrations, articles and advertising as originally intended to be viewed steeps the reader in the nuance of the period.  A quick perusal of this issue, for instance, informs us that the 1887 vintage of Veuve Clicquot champagne was released in the United States in 1893, and also that aristocratically titled men of the Continent marrying American millionairesses were strongly advised to compel their new brides to, “give over her property,” lest they be, “subservient to her” in “money affairs.”

Speaking of money…the cost of an annual subscription to Vogue in 1893? Four dollars, which adjusted for inflation is about one-hundred dollars in today’s currency. Conversely, an annual print subscription to Vogue in 2013 costs just under fifteen dollars, which was the equivalent of 60 cents in 1893.

Looking at our Vogues? Always FREE!

Not one, but two champagne brands are advertised on the interior cover of this issue—Ruinart, one of the oldest champagne brands still in existence and Veuve Clicquot which was brought to international acclaim early in the nineteenth century under the guidance of its widowed owner, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot.
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One Response to Vogue in 1893: “Believe…only half of what you see!”

  1. Would you look at those vintage print. Loving it. Way back 1893, that’s something.

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