Fashion illustration is en vogue again. Since Vogue magazine published the first colour photograph on its July 1932 cover, no Vogue magazine in any country has ever gone to print without one — until now. On Thursday, Vogue Italia announced all seven of its January 2020 covers were illustrated by both well-known and emerging artists who “told the story of fashion, giving up traveling, sending entire wardrobes, polluting. The challenge is to demonstrate that it is possible to tell the clothes without photographing them.”
Because Vogue Italia saved so much money working with illustrators instead of producing entire cover shoots, the magazine will donate what it would have spent on production to the restoration of the Querini Stampalia Onlus Foundation in Venice, which was damaged by a flood in November 2019.
David Salle’s cover features Lili Sumner in a silk Gucci dress with a contrasting collar. Vanessa Beecroft drew a model wearing a Gucci organza pleated dress. Cassi Namoda illustrated model Ambar Cristal Zarzuela in a striped sweater and houndstooth wool pants (both Gucci). Milo Manara’s cover is Olivia Vinten in a Gucci leather and lace top, leather choker, latex gloves, and a whip with a Gucci handle. Delphine Desane drew a portrait of Assa Baradji in an oversized Gucci organza jacket. Paolo Ventura’s illustration features Felice Nova Noordhoff in a sleeveless dress and a Gucci fringed top. Finally, Yoshitaka Amano drew Lindsey Wixson in a Gucci silk and leather choker dress.
This is a pretty big deal. In 2008, Laird Borrelli, author of Fashion Illustration by Fashion Designers, told Business of Fashion that when Vogue began to champion colour photographs on its covers, it was a turning point for fashion illustration. Borelli notes that fashion illustration has gone from “being one of the sole means of fashion communication to having a very minor role.”
Last December, Condé Nast announced “Vogue Values,” a statement that will act as a guide for editorial teams globally, which all of Vogue’s editors-in-chief have signed off on, including Anna Wintour, British Vogue’s Edward Enninful, Vogue Paris’ Emmanuelle Alt, Vogue China’s Angelica Cheung, and Vogue Italy’s Emanuele Farneti. As the titles pivot for a new decade of mindful inclusivity, Vogue Italia may have just found a way to make magazines more sustainable, and works of art.