A century of vanities: “Vanity Fair” turns 100


June, 1914 cover of Vanity Fair. Magazine cover designed Ethel M’Clellan Plummer/Vanity Fair/Library of Congress.

It is the 100th anniversary of the publication of the first issue of Dress & Vanity magazine, later renamed Vanity Fair.

The title “Vanity Fair” was a phrase first coined in 1678, defined as “a place of rascality and frivolity,” It first appeared in John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”

Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is “Vanity”; and at the town there is a fair kept, called “Vanity Fair”; it is kept all the year long. It bears the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where ’tis kept is lighter than vanity; and also because all that is there sold, or that comes thither is vanity. As is the saying of the wise, “All that comes is vanity.”