In an interview about the Vanity Fair redesign, the Creative Director said that they focus on 32 colors and try not to stray from those. (I couldn’t the color palette, however.)
For the most part, Vanity Fair sticks to pastels, soft and airy colors when photographing people. This gives an effortless and natural touch to the magazine that adds to their classy appeal. They’ll also use colors like royal blue, gold or sleek black to add to their glamour appeal. The strategy of using these soft or elegant colors to photograph people is appropriate for the audience because it resembles their style. A VF reader wouldn’t necessarily wear a hot pink crop top, so you won’t find that in the magazine.
While navigating through the magazine, there’s one color that stays constant: bright red. The bright red color is used to signal the reader where they are in the publication. It lets the reader know if they’re transitioning to a new section of the magazine, so the reader doesn’t feel lost. Not only this, but the color red is also typically for the first letter of a new article or section of an article.This works because red is such an intense color, it’s always noticeable where you are. It also doesn’t compete with the rest of the text, it just grabs your attention to let you know where you are. With the pattern of starting something with this bold color red, the reader will always get the hint that they’re at the beginning of a section or article.
It’s not typical of Vanity Fair to use neon colors or colors that don’t go along with their sophisticated brand. It’s safe to say that they stick to royal colors, pastels and airy colors that only add to the publication’s elegant, old-hollywood image.