Vanity Fair, as a pretty straight-forward magazine with packed information. It’s not very easy to find a lot of formatted elements. But if you dig a little bit deeper, some of the elements do stand out as the special elements of Vanity Fair.
The editors of VF put the credits of photographers, illustrators or stylists at the bottom of the opening page of each story. The credits are in all caps and with underlines.
If the opening spread of the section is a fashion photo, the edit will contribute all the fashion elements, like the brand of the dress, the jewelry wore by the celebrity in a box.
Second, the drop caps of the VF are also pretty iconic.
I think red is one of VF’s benchmark colors. Most of the features stories in VF, if don’t have a specific theme, have large drop caps at each paragraph. The red drop caps in serifs are really eye-catching. The color red is coherent to the plate color in each section, too.
At the beginning of each issue, VF uses a quite large portion of introducing some fragmented information — fashion items, celebrities news. The layout of this part I call it “clipboard”. At first glance, you will think these pages are piled with some thumbnail pictures and some captions of the price and brand of each fashion item.But look at it from a graphic designer perspective of view, most of the “clipboard” pages are in a four or six columns layout. The more-than-three-column-layout has more capacities for more information. Each page seems really packed but is actually well-designed — each fragment has its own place.
As I noticed, the sections marks of each issue vary in different sections. As the latest issue and the Hollywood issue for examples. The Hollywood issue has the red rectangle shaped the mark on the top middle on each page, inside the red rectangle there are white letters to show what section this page belongs, above the letters there are two white lines in different lengths to make the section marks more designish. This red section mark design coherent the whole issue’s theme color – red, which makes it more noticeable for the readers that they are reading a special edition.
On the regular issues, the section marks are in the same position but only in a black lined rectangle with black letters in all caps, san serifs, which create a sense of neat and efficient.
These Vanity Fair special designed icons are also a fun element throughout the whole magazine. Small icons give the credit page a little vitality, usually, the credit pages are pretty boring, and no one is supposed to notice that. However, the credit page here is better designed. The little black illustrations are quite catchy. Personally, I love the idea of giving the traditional editor a typewriter and the digital director a mouse and an old-school microphone for communication people.
Vanity Fair is really sophisticated in using drop caps—you can see the drop caps in all the articles. The drop caps pretty much can play a role as VF’s signature. The drop caps are in black or red the hallmark colors of VF, all in the same font, dioit VF I assume. In some articles talking about more serious social issues or something political related, the drop caps are normally not very big.
But sometimes when the article is artsier, or artist related, an enormous drop cap will appear on the page to catch the reader’s attention.
Captions of Vanity Fair varies picture to picture. The most commonly used style is in a rectangle in the picture or outside picture or half in the picture half outside the picture. It makes the captions more noticeable. Another style of captions is usually used for a group of images. The introductions for each picture are stated below the pictures. By using different fonts or different colors to distinguish different types of information.
Bylines are in unify. The “by” is in a serif font and also italic. The author’s name is displayed in bold, all caps and san serif. This makes the byline really noticeable even the size of the bylines is usually pretty small.
Pull quotes in Vanity Fair are just like the drop caps – another signature of the magazine. In a two columns design page or four columns deign page the pull quotes will occupy a half in the middle and in larger size than the normal texts on this page. The texts on the page form a blank rectangle as a space for putting the pull quotes in.
Also, I found some interesting ones: as shown on the page the pull quotes are all placed in the middle of the two columns of the article. The three columns are not evenly divided the whole page, but the pull quotes column occupies the space equals to a half of one text column and this column for pull quotes exists from the top margin to the bottom margin. All the pull quotes are in red, to defer from the normal texts.