Colour was in Vogue in the 1940s
You feel a bit daft saying "No! Colour photos that early?", especially when you've had a fairly thorough education in art history. But that's what I thought when I saw these awe-inspiring, 1940s fashion photographs from Vogue, discovered during a browsing by Susie Bubble at Elegance is Refusal's Flickr site, which is lush with beautiful vintage scans.
It would have been nice if my university learnings had endured at least until my student loans were paid off. But anyway, I've looked it up and while the history of colour in photography is a bit complicated, colour photographs have been around since the 1850s (starting with James Clerk Maxwell's work with primary colour filters, and the experimentation continued). But it wasn't until 1935 that colour photo-taking became a more common thing, when Kodak started to sell Kodachrome transparency film, followed by the introduction of color-print films and Ektachrome films in the 1940s. And no doubt there's a lot more to what went into creating these Vogue photographs than that skeletal history, but the point is, we are just so rarely treated to these delights - if ever - that they leave us truly stunned at what was possible so long ago. It's incredible that some of these photos appear completely devoid of that anachronistic look and mood that we associate with the 30s and 40s: