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British Vogue (1999–2002)

Contributed by Michael Bojkowski on May 9th, 2018. Artwork published in
December 1999
    Source: State Library of Victoria Photographed at the State Library of Victoria. License: All Rights Reserved.

    Gill Sans Monoline for British Vogue

    I’m partly posting this in the hope that the friendly folk reading this might be able to help in tracking down the origin and status of this currently elusive typeface.

    At the turn of the millennium British Vogue unveiled a new custom built typeface, to little fanfare, that would become their signature for the following two years (December 1999– December 2002, with a couple of random cover sightings in the 2010s—blink and you would have missed them).

    Since then this quite radical set of letterforms have quietly slipped under the radar and into relative obscurity. This could have been due to the fact that it was based on a very traditionally British typeface Vogue had already been using previous to its introduction. Namely, Gill Sans. The new typeface… a monoline version of Gill Sans.

    Now readers may have barely noticed the subtle shift but to these type-literate eyes this was a very exciting development. Whoever Vogue had commissioned to do this had managed to make Gill Sans modern again. By coercing Gill Sans’ many ticks and quirks into emulating something less hand-rendered and more machine-made it only emphasised the intriguing bizarre tensions within these over familiar forms.

    So the question remains, firstly who was responsible for this? And secondly, what has happened to it? — Where has it gone? Why doesn’t it appear in any portfolios (that I could find)? Were there copyright issues involved? What is the story of this interesting edition to the Gill Sans canon? Any leads most appreciated.

    License: All Rights Reserved.

    The first issue to feature Gill Sans Monoline was the December 1999 special Millennium issue which featured a silver foil mirrored cover and no model, only the typeface.

    Source: State Library of Victoria License: All Rights Reserved.
    Source: State Library of Victoria License: All Rights Reserved.
    Source: State Library of Victoria License: All Rights Reserved.
    Source: State Library of Victoria License: All Rights Reserved.
    Source: State Library of Victoria License: All Rights Reserved.


    • unidentified typeface




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    5 Comments on “British Vogue (1999–2002)”

    1. May 9th, 2018  6:04 pm

      The light weight is not too far from regular Gill Sans Light, with some interesting differences. For example, u is stemless, bdpq are spurless (like in the bolder weights of classic Gill, a feature that was applied across all weights in Gill Sans Nova), dots are square (only in the lighter weights of both Gill Sans and Nova).

      The strict monolinearity without much optical compensation give the bolder weights a similar (anti)aesthetics as stroked type (i.e. type with a contour applied in a layout program).

    2. Matt Brown says:
      May 9th, 2018  9:55 pm

      Looks a lot like something the creative director’s friend knocked together after playing with Gill Sans for a few hours in Fontographer.

    3. May 10th, 2018  1:55 pm

      It’s Gill Sans minus the quirks. Kinda like Vogue AG (Avant Garde).

    4. May 10th, 2018  3:51 pm

      Speaking of which: Terminal Design’s portfolio also includes another custom hairline variant of Gill Sans: Skinny Eric was designed for SELF Magazine.

    5. May 11th, 2018  9:45 am

      “Proving once again, that all women’s magazines must have an ultra thin typeface if they are to be successful.” —Kati Korpijaakko (from Terminal Design’s website).

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