Opening today at London’s National Portrait Gallery and running through May 22, Vogue 100: A Century of Style features more than 280 photos. Per the show title, the collection of prints celebrates 100 years of Vogue magazine’s U.K. counterpart, which was launched two years after the American edition.
Former Telegraph arts editor in chief Sarah Crompton, who now freelances, offered a lively preview of the show recently in the pages of The Guardian. She started off by hilariously framing her late January media-day visit:
I went with my hair piled damp on my head and a red blister below one eye thanks to a splash of fat while cooking the previous night. Overwhelmed by home, children and work, I had failed to liberate any sophisticated clothes from the dry cleaner’s, so pitched up in a jumper that I realized afterwards was beginning to unravel at the hem.
This is my life and the life of many women. Yet I can look at the temple of style that Vogue represents and somehow feel I belong. Like Cecil Beaton’s famous wartime image of a woman gazing at the bomb-damaged ruins of Middle Temple, London, I may be in the midst of chaos, but somewhere deep inside me, I should know how to wear a well-tailored suit by Digby Morton.
Vogue 100 was curated by Robin Muir, formerly a photo editor at the British edition. The rest of Crompton’s extensive write-up is the next best thing to being there. At one point, she explains why one of her favorite items is a 1960 shot by Frank Horvat designed to promote Bradford as a center of the wool industry.
Here’s what the first cover of British Vogue looked like in September 1916: