About Elle Magazine

First Issue:
(Elle France) November 21, 1945

Elle Magazine 2020
Vintage Details Magazine

The History of Elle Magazine

Elle magazine, a prominent women’s fashion publication, was founded in France in 1945 by Pierre Lazareff and his wife Hélène Gordon. The inception of Elle came right after World War II, marking a significant period in France’s history, especially in the context of women’s rights, as women had just won the right to vote in 1944. The magazine aimed to reflect and celebrate a new type of independent, modern, and active woman.

The first issue of Elle France was published on November 21, 1945, featuring actress Yolande Bloin, dressed by Elsa Schiaparelli, on the cover. The magazine initially served not only as a source of fashion inspiration but also provided practical assistance to its readers by offering free patterns of some fashion pieces, allowing the public to experience haute couture. Elle quickly grew in popularity, and by the 1960s, it had a readership of 800,000 across France.

Elle was instrumental in promoting new fashion designers and trends. Its 100th issue, published in 1947, featured the work of Christian Dior, and in the early 1950s, stars like Brigitte Bardot and Marilyn Monroe graced its covers. The magazine was known for its influence in the fashion world, encapsulated in the slogan, “Si elle lit elle lit Elle” (literally, “If she reads, she reads She”).

The international expansion of Elle began in 1969 with the first international edition in Japan. This was followed by launches in the United States and the United Kingdom in 1985. Elle Decoration, a spin-off focusing on interior design, was launched in France in 1987 and in the US in 1989.

By the mid-1990s, Elle circulated 5 million copies worldwide, and in 2007, it launched its online platform, Elle.com. In 2011, the Hearst Corporation acquired the rights to publish Elle in fifteen countries, although the French edition remained under the control of the Lagardère Group.

Elle has been a trailblazer in embracing diversity and inclusivity. For example, Elle Brazil was the first commercial magazine to feature a transgender model on its cover in December 2011. Elle’s global reach and influence are substantial, with the brand operating in many countries and having a significant online presence.

In 2018, the Elle France edition was sold to Daniel Křetínský’s Czech Media Invest, while the Lagardère Group continued to own the Elle brand in France and internationally. In a significant move reflecting its commitment to animal welfare and sustainable fashion, Elle announced in 2021 that all its global editions would ban fur from their pages starting in 2023.

Throughout its history, Elle has been more than just a fashion magazine; it has been a cultural barometer and a champion for women’s empowerment, reflecting and shaping the trends of each era it has passed through