Monday, April 4, 2011


In order to understand the significance of, it is important to understand how the image of Vogue was originally created and how it has been transformed into something similar to that of a “brand”. It was founded in 1892 by Arthur Baldwin Turnure who created it as a gazette for high society and fashion only factored in when demonstrating the appropriate attire for different high society activities. It staked its claim as being a magazine about high culture, by reviewing books, theaters productions, the opera and the likes. The demographic that comprised the readership was mainly socialites and the wealthy elite class. In 1909 Condé Nast purchased the magazine and transformed it into a fashion magazine, while still maintaining its appearance of being directed towards the elite class of society. Unlike before, the readers do not live the life style shown in Vogue, they mainly fantasy about it. The Vogue Paris website works to reach out to their readers in a more individual way by empowering the reader which in turns maintains the popularity of Vogue Paris and its authority in fashion.

The magazine originally had a section that displayed reader’s letters regarding their opinions on different aspects of the magazine. This public participation has been transformed to the online forum that appears on It allows active participation by the readers, by allowing them to submit photos of what they consider fashionable. It pretends to be a democratic process in which readers can vote on which ones they like and decide what goes on the Internet, but in reality the Vogue staff decides what to post online. Here Vogue creates what the theorist Haberman coined in the 18th century known as the “Public Sphere”. A public sphere is where private people actively provide their opinions in a public space, in this case the website. It creates a community amongst the readers and empowers them buy making the readers believe that their opinions concerning the fashion industry are valued by Vogue. By creating this unique relationship between the readers and the creators of the Vogue Paris website, it keeps people attracted to that particular fashion website. In this way the public forum both empowers the readers while simultaneously reaffirming the power of Vogue as the authority on fashion.

The Soirées Section on the website, functions in a similar way that the online forum does. It is a section that harkens back to one of the original aspects of the magazine, which was to keep the elite class connected by showing snapshots of high society parties and the elite class that attended them. Today, this section is viewed more by the public that fantasizes about the world that the “elite” live in. This perpetuates the high society dream and contributes to Simmel’s point about the lower class practicing in imitation to try and appear like they are part of the “elite” class. It allows readers to see what the “elite” class in society wears and how they act. It allows the elite class to remain the trendsetters, which also demonstrates how not only do designers hold the power in the fashion industry but different people in society as well. These images give the reader a V.I.P. pass into a Parisian dream world that they previously had no access to and in this way it empowers the reader. One again this section is used to both reaffirm the power of Vogue and “high society” by seemingly empowering the readers/viewers.

The first two images demonstrates what the Soirée section often includes. The "elite" class is often shown as being comprised of entertainers, models and socialites. Here Diane Kruger and Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen are photographed at different parties and descriptions of what they are wearing are given to the side. This allows public to imitate their style , thus placing them in the role of trend setters and authorities in the fashion industry. At the same time , by giving the readers the chance to dress like the "elite" class and allowing them to view these parties, they feel more connected to the the content on the website and in the magazine.

The second set of images show what the online forum looks like. They appear to be normal girls who photograph themselves in their most fashionable outfits. By including photos of the general public it allows a greater amount of readers to relate to the content on the website. Allowing readers to compare themselves with the general public makes the high end fashion industry seem much more approachable since there aren't just celebrities taking part in it. Thus the readers feel more empowered to become the trend setters , when really they are being influenced by images that have been chosen by Vogue. Once again Vogue maintains authority while captivating its readers through self empowerment.

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