Vanity Fair (magazine)

Vanity Fair (magazine)

Infobox Magazine
title = Vanity Fair

image_caption =
image_size = 220px
company = Condé Nast Publications
paid_circulation =
unpaid_circulation =
total_circulation =
circulation_year =
language = English
category = Culture
frequency = Monthly
editor = Graydon Carter
issn = 0733-8899
firstdate = 1913
country = USA
website = []

"Vanity Fair" is an American magazine of culture, fashion, and politics published by Condé Nast Publications.

Condé Nast's "Vanity Fair"

Condé Nast began his empire by purchasing the men's fashion magazine "Dress" in 1913. He is said to have paid $3,000 for the right to use the title "Vanity Fair" in the United States, but it is unknown whether the right was granted by an earlier English publication or some other source.

Condé Nast renamed the magazine "Dress and Vanity Fair" and published four issues in 1913. After a short period of inactivity it was relaunched in 1914 as "Vanity Fair".

The magazine achieved great popularity under editor Frank Crowninshield. In 1919 Robert Benchley was tapped to become managing editor. He joined Dorothy Parker, who had come to the magazine from "Vogue", and was the staff drama critic. Benchley hired future playwright Robert E. Sherwood, who had recently returned from World War I. The trio were among the original members of the Algonquin Round Table, which met at the Algonquin Hotel, on the same West 44th Street block as Condé Nast's offices.

Crowninshield attracted the best writers of the era. Aldous Huxley, T. S. Eliot, Ferenc Molnár, Gertrude Stein, and Djuna Barnes all appeared in a single issue, July 1923. ["About Town", by Ben Yagoda, Scribner, 2000, p. 37.]

Starting in 1925 "Vanity Fair" competed with "The New Yorker" as the American establishment's top culture chronicle. It contained writing by Thomas Wolfe, T. S. Eliot and P. G. Wodehouse, theatre criticisms by Dorothy Parker, and photographs by Edward Steichen; Claire Boothe Luce was its editor for some time.

In 1915 it published more pages of advertisements than any other U.S. magazine. ["About Town", by Ben Yagoda, Scribner, 2000, pp. 36.] It continued to thrive into the twenties. However, it became a casualty of the Great Depression and declining advertising revenues. Condé Nast announced in December 1935 that "Vanity Fair" (circulation 90,000, its peak) would be folded into "Vogue" (circulation 156,000) as of the March 1936 issue. ["Vanity Fair Merged With Vogue by Nast", "New York Times", December 30, 1935, p. 21. "Conde Nast Publications To Combine Two Magazines", "Wall Street Journal", December 31, 1935, p. 2.]

Modern revival

Condé Nast Publications, under the ownership of Si Newhouse, announced in June 1981 that it was reviving the magazine. ["Conde Nast to Revive Vanity Fair Magazine", "Wall Street Journal", July 1, 1981, p. 16.] The first issue was published in February 1983 (cover date March), edited by Richard Locke, formerly of "The New York Times Book Review". [Sandra Salmans, "Covering the Elite at Condé Nast", "New York Times", February 6, 1983, p. F1.] After three issues, Locke was replaced by Leo Lerman, veteran features editor of "Vogue". [Curt Suplee, "Vanity Fair Editor Fired", "The Washington Post", April 27, 1983, p. B4.] He was followed by editors Tina Brown (1984–1992) and E. Graydon Carter (since 1992). Regular columnists include Sebastian Junger, Michael Wolff, Christopher Hitchens, Dominick Dunne, and Maureen Orth. Famous contributing photographers for the magazine include Bruce Weber, Annie Leibovitz, Mario Testino and the late Herb Ritts, all who have provided the magazine with a string of lavish covers and full-page portraits of current celebrities. Amongst the most famous of these was the August 1991 cover featuring a naked, pregnant Demi Moore, an image entitled "More Demi Moore" that to this day holds a spot in pop culture.

In addition to its controversial photography, the magazine is also known for its high quality articles. In 1996, journalist Marie Brenner wrote an exposé on the tobacco industry entitled "The Man Who Knew Too Much". The article was later adapted into a movie "The Insider" (1999), which starred Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Most famously, after more than thirty years of mystery, an article in the May 2005 edition revealed the identity of Deep Throat (W. Mark Felt), one of the sources for "The Washington Post" articles on Watergate, which led to the 1974 resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon. The magazine also includes candid interviews from celebrities: from Teri Hatcher admitting to being abused as a child to Jennifer Aniston's first interview after her divorce from Brad Pitt. Anderson Cooper talked about his brother's death while Martha Stewart gave an exclusive to the magazine right after her release from prison.

In August 2006, "Vanity Fair" sent photographer Annie Leibovitz to the Telluride, Colorado home of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for its October 2006 issue. The photo shoot was of the couple and their daughter, Suri Cruise, who had previously been "hidden", without pictures released to the public, causing many to start to deny her existence. This issue became the second highest selling issue for the magazine; the first was the Jennifer Aniston cover after her divorce.

In keeping with the influence of Hollywood and pop culture on the magazine, "Vanity Fair" hosts a high-profile, exclusive Academy Awards after-party at the restaurant Morton's. In addition, its annual Hollywood issue usually consists of pictorials of that year's respective Academy Award nominees. Previous Hollywood issue covers have included group images of Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman, and Catherine Deneuve together and Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, and Jack Black together.

The magazine was the subject of Toby Young's book, "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People", about his search for success, from 1995, in New York working for Graydon Carter's "Vanity Fair". The book has been made into a movie, with Jeff Bridges playing Carter.

There are currently four international editions of "Vanity Fair" being published, namely in the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Italy. The latter two editions are published weekly.


Controversial pictorials

Some of the pictorials in "Vanity Fair" have garnered criticism. The April 1999 issue featured an image of actor Mike Myers dressed as a Hindu deity for a photo spread by David LaChapelle: after criticism, both the photographer and the magazine apologized. [ [ SAJA Vanity Fair article] , 9 June, 2000 ]

Another issue whose cover image courted controversy was the March 2006 Tom Ford's Hollywood Special Edition: the cover, shot by Annie Leibovitz, featured Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson, both nude, accompanied by a fully-clothed Tom Ford, a last-minute replacement for Rachel McAdams, who had backed out of the shoot after refusing to appear nude.

In addition, the December, 2006 issue (Vanity Fair's first "Art Issue") drew controversy with its photo of Brad Pitt wearing nothing but a pair of white boxers. Although Pitt had signed a release for the image, which was taken in September 2005, he claims he did not expect it to emerge on the magazine cover more than a year later. Vanity Fair has said that it obtained the rights for the image, as part of a collection, and that it had issued a letter to Pitt informing him, prior to the publication.

On April 25, 2008, the televised entertainment program "Entertainment Tonight" reported that 15 year old Miley Cyrus had posed topless for a photo shoot with Vanity Fair. [cite web|url=,22049,23608789-5001026,00.html|title=Miley Cyrus topless controversy|date=2008-04-28|accessdate=2008-04-27|] The photo, and subsequently released behind-the-scenes photos, show Cyrus without a top, her bare back exposed but her front covered with a bedsheet. The photo shoot was taken by photographer Annie Leibovitz. [cite web|url=,,20195785,00.html|title=Miley Cyrus: I'm Sorry for Photos|author=Stephen M. Silverman|date=2008-04-27|accessdate=2008-04-27|] The full photograph was published with an accompanying story on "The New York Times"' website on April 27, 2008. On April 29 2008, "The New York Times" clarified that though the pictures left an impression that she was bare-breasted, Cyrus was wrapped in a bedsheet and was actually not topless.cite web|url=|title=A Topless Photo Threatens a Major Disney Franchise|author=Brook Barnes|date=2008-04-28|accessdate=2008-04-29|] Some parents expressed outrage at the nature of the photograph, which a Disney spokesperson described as "a situation [that] was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines."

In response to the internet circulation of the photo and ensuing media attention, Cyrus released a statement of apology on April 27:

"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about."

Polanski libel case

In 2005, "Vanity Fair" was found liable in a lawsuit brought in the UK by film director Roman Polanski, who claimed the magazine had libelled him in an article published in 2002, accusing him of boorish behavior and child molestation following the murder of his wife Sharon Tate in 1969. A 2002 article in the magazine written by A. E. Hotchner recounted a claim by Lewis Lapham, editor of "Harper's", that Polański had made sexual advances towards a young model as he was travelling to Sharon Tate's funeral, claiming that he could make her "the next Sharon Tate". The court permitted Polański to testify via a video link, after he expressed fears that he might be extradited were he to enter the United Kingdom. [ [ Polanski takes appeal to Lords] BBC News (online), 17 November, 2004 ] The trial started on July 18, 2005, and Polański made English legal history as the first claimant to give evidence by video link. During the trial, which included the testimonies of Mia Farrow and others, it was proved that the alleged scene at the famous New York restaurant Elaine's could not possibly have taken place on the date given, because Polański only dined at this restaurant three weeks later. Also, the Norwegian then-model disputed the accounts that he had claimed to be able to make her "the next Sharon Tate".

Polański was awarded £50,000 damages by the High Court in London. The case was notable because Polanski was living in France as a fugitive from U.S. justice, and never appeared in the London court for fear he would be extradited to the U.S. and Graydon Carter, editor of "Vanity Fair", responded, "I find it amazing that a man who lives in France can sue a magazine that is published in America in a British courtroom," while Samantha Geimer commented, "Surely a man like this hasn't got a reputation to tarnish?" [ [ How I spent my summer vacation in London being sued by Roman Polanski — and what I learned about "solicitors," pub food, and the British chattering class] , by Graydon Carter, "Vanity Fair", 19 September, 2005 ]

Lindsay Lohan interview

In January 2006, "Vanity Fair" published a cover feature and an interview with Lindsay Lohan in which she admitted using drugs "a little", although she denied ever using cocaine, describing it as a "sore subject". The article said she had recovered from "bulimic episodes", and that her 2005 hospitalization was for "a swollen liver and kidney infection".cite web | | work=Reuters: Lindsay Lohan Admits Drug Use, Bulimia Battle | url= | accessdaymonth=4 January | accessyear=2006] Lohan later said she was "appalled" that her words were "misused and misconstrued" for the article; the magazine however replied that "Every word [was recorded] on tape. "Vanity Fair" stands by the story."cite web | title=Lindsay Lohan says she's 'appalled' by 'Vanity Fair' article | work=USA Today Article | url= | accessdaymonth=9 July | accessyear=2006]


External links

* [ Vanity Fair homepage]
* [ Vanity Fair Germany]
* [ Vanity Fair Covers ]

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