Last Monday saw the prestigious Vogue Paris, known for their highfashion editorials and Parisian pride, make a big addition to their online presence. Via their Twitter page, @vogueparis, the Gallic glossy made the announcement that “France gave the US the Statue of Liberty, now we are taking Vogue.fr to the wider world… get ready for #VogueParisinEnglish”.
The tweet caused quite a stir in the fashion world, with Vogue Paris leaving it unclear whether #VogueParisinEnglish meant an English language version of the sumptuous monthly would hit newsstands alongside, or even instead of, the original French magazine. But the industry should have known better. From a title that once rid itself of foreign staff members in a bid to restore French identity (here’s looking at you Carine Roitfeld), published in a country that has its own official authority on the French language, it was wishful thinking to hope for English in print. The Condé Nast International publication instead clarified that their chic website, vogue.fr, would show an option to translate the site into English. In a move similar to that of Vogue Italia in 2010, the only other Vogue website to offer readers the choice of another language, users are now able to switch between the French and British flags on the navigation bar. Or as @vogueparis put it, “The Tricolour goes Stars, Stripes and Union Jack for readers around the world”.
Jennifer Neyt, editor of Vogue.fr, confirmed that at present all the English articles would be translations of the original French pieces. At the time of going to press, it was unclear whether this would be a computer translation, as seen on their Facebook page facebook.com/ VogueParis, or a human translation, which would avoid the noticeable translation issues and imperfections of the Facebook page. However, any conversion into English, no matter how flawed, opens up Vogue Paris to a new, younger and more global audience.
French Vogue, well aware of its own snobbery when it comes to language (French is superior, everything else in inferior), does not come across as the first candidate for reaching out to a more diverse readership by making itself more accessible. Yet in these tough economic times Vogue Paris seems to have swallowed its pride and accepted that English is the most widely used language in the world. This could be incredibly beneficial for Vogue Paris, increasing magazine circulation and prominence in the industry. But in pandering to the masses, has this decision enforced the ignorance of the English? Some would say that in order to read Vogue Paris, a French publication, one should simply learn to speak French.
After all, vogue.co.uk is written solely in English. If we expect content in our native language from Vogue International, surely it is time we return the favour. It seems a little greedy, but with the status of the English language in the world being what it is, perhaps this is just another benefit. For now, we can sit back, enjoy and understand first-class content from all four fashion capitals.