Vogue magazine backs down on plan to sue pub called Vogue in village of Vogue

·4-min read
Landlord Mark Graham said he initially thought the letter from Vogue magazine was a joke - James Dadzitis / SWNS
Landlord Mark Graham said he initially thought the letter from Vogue magazine was a joke - James Dadzitis / SWNS

For an unassuming Cornish pub perched on a country lane and offering £10 all-you-can-eat burgers and hot dogs, a letter from the most iconic fashion magazine raised eyebrows.

But when the landlord Mark Graham opened it to discover Vogue was demanding that his pub change its 200-year-old name or face legal action, that curiosity quickly became astonishment - then a fierce determination to resist.

The iconic magazine sent a cease and desist letter to The Star Inn at Vogue, based in a rural hamlet called Vogue near the town of Redruth, arguing its name might confuse readers.

They said they were "concerned that the name which you are using is going to cause problems because as far as the general public is concerned a connection between your business and ours is likely to be inferred".

The letter, seen by The Telegraph, added: "Please reply within seven days or we will take remedial action."

In what has been dubbed a classic David versus Goliath battle, residents in the hamlet rallied together and were prepared to go all the way to court.

Mark Graham, owner of the Star Inn at Vogue, Cornwall, with his wife Rachel
Mark Graham, owner of the Star Inn at Vogue, Cornwall, with his wife Rachel

The pub, which is running a £10 "American night" including Mac ‘n’ Cheese and pulled pork next week along with karaoke and cream teas, said it has no plans to change its name.

It said it intended to "crack on the way we always have", pointing out that Vogue was first published in 1916 - nearly a century after the pub was established.

On Friday, lawyers for Vogue’s parent company Condé Nast U-turned following the protest, admitting in a letter to Mr Graham that "you are quite correct to note that further research by our team would have identified that we did not need to send such a letter on this occasion".

Speaking about the incident, Mr Graham told The Telegraph that he was "astonished that in this day and age a company that big could not be bothered to do any background checks before sending such a nasty letter".

"The community are up in arms, they want me to create a parish magazine and call it a ‘Vogue magazine’ and have a fashion week and call it ‘Vogue fashion week’. One of our lovely barmaids wants to rewrite the Madonna song ‘Vogue’ and release it for ourselves on TikTok or Facebook," he said.

"Everybody’s contacted me - every man and his dog. Everyone’s more than happy to jump in and we’re happy to take them to court if need be."

Reaffirming Cornwall’s folklore reputation for defiance, he added: "The pub has been here just under 200 years and they’ve only been here for 100 years - it’s another case of the big companies trying to bully the little companies into submission and that ain't going to work in Cornwall. We’ve got a history of rebellion."

Vogue - James Dadzitis / SWNS
Vogue - James Dadzitis / SWNS

The hamlet’s name, Vogue, is scribbled in grey letters on the side of the pub’s modest facade, which sits on a quiet country lane near the southern town of St Day. It is surrounded by several streets of houses and farmland.

In the letter to the pub, Sabine Vandenbroucke, the chief operating officer of Condé Nast, Vogue’s parent company, wrote: "Our company is the proprietor of the Vogue mark, not only for its world-famous magazine first published in November 1916 but in respect of other goods and services offered to the public by our company."

Ms Vandenbroucke’s letter, dated March 1, also asked Mark and Rachel to provide more information about what type of business the Star Inn Vogue pub is and any imagery it uses to make sure it obviously cannot be confused with the magazine.

Mr Graham, who initially thought the letter was a joke, replied with a selection of photos of the pub and street names found in the area bearing the name Vogue. He said the "at Vogue" addition to his pub’s name "has been used on and off, but I've been here 17 years and always used it".

His letter concluded by saying: "In answer to your question whether we would change our name, it is a categorical NO."

The response on Friday from Condé Nast’s top lawyer, Christopher Donnellan, explained that Vogue was alerted to the name on Companies House, but was "grateful for your response and to learn more about your business in this beautiful part of our country".

"Everyone at Conde Nast wishes you and everyone in Vogue best wishes for a happy summer, and for your upcoming 'American Night' on 18 May," he added.

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