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The Beginnings of Gazette du Bon Ton

Gazette du Bon Ton logo

There can be no doubting the incredible synergy between fashion and fashion publishing. When you flip through a copy of VOGUE or Elle you can feel the pulse of design beating beneath your fingertips. It becomes impossible to separate the makers of fashion from the reporters of fashion; the whole world of style pours forth from that glossy magazine in your hand – yet it was not always so.

Fashion and publishing began flirting with each other in the late 19th century but didn’t truly hit it off until Parisian designer Paul Poiret commissioned the artist Paul Irbe to illustrate a small folio of his dresses entitled Les Robes de Paul Poiret in 1906. When Poiret released a second book of designs five years later – this time with brilliant young illustrator Georges Lepape – the worlds of fashion and art sat up and took notice.

Lucien Vogel’s Gazette du Bon Ton picked up where Poiret left off, wedding haute couture with fine art in a deluxe monthly format and setting the tone for high-end fashion magazines until World War I ground French publication to a halt.

With Gazette du Bon Ton, Lucien Vogel effectively invented modern fashion journalism as well as establishing fashion as an integral form of art. His focus on typography, layout, and visual style not only centered the editor as the foundation of a magazine's style but transformed publishing itself into a form of art.

Importantly, du Bon Ton (following the lead of Poiret's folios) shifted the nature of fashion illustration from static "model" poses on blank or minimal fields to full-blown artistic scenes. The focus on illustration as art also led to the illustrators signing their work, which was also unheard of prior; this not only helped them gain lasting recognition as artists but helped make many of them become almost as hot of commodities on the Paris social scene as the designers they promoted.