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Landlord Mark Graham thought it was a joke at first when the iconic publication demanded his pub change the name it has had for 200 years, or face legal action. The magazine sent a cease and desist letter to The Star Inn at Vogue, which is set in a rural hamlet called Vogue, near Redruth in Cornwall.
Vogue argued that the name might confuse its readers, saying 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”.
Its letter added: “Please reply within seven days or we will take remedial action.”
The pub, which is running a £ 10 “American night” next week along with karaoke and cream teas, said it is not planning to change its name.
The David vs Goliath battle has also angered the people of the small hamlet who have vowed to fight the demand and retaliate.
Mark Graham thought it was a joke at first when the publication demanded his pub change name
Mark and Rachel outside The Star Inn at Vogue
A Royal Navy veteran and former tin miner, Mark, 60, said he has no plans to change the pub’s name and wrote back with a “tongue in cheek” letter.
He said: “I was really surprised that I’d received it. In fact when I wrote back I started my letter saying I found their letter interesting on the one hand and also hilarious.
“We were quite surprised and the general attitude from everyone was just to ask if they had Google – because surely they’d realize we aren’t competing in the same league.
“You’d think someone in their office would just search what we are and realize that we’re just a country pub. We’re hardly courting the same clientele by a long way.
Mark stands next to a road sign for the hamlet near Redruth in Cornwall
Mark holds a copy of Vogue magazine next to the hamlet’s sign
“We’ve not had the name for long after all – just shy of 200 years. The ‘at Vogue’ part at the end has been used on and off, but I’ve been here 17 years and always used it.”
Mark said he thinks Vogue’s concern may have arisen when he and his wife decided to change their trading status from a partnership to a limited company.
He added: “We have no plans to change our name, and we’ll no doubt crack on the way we always have.”
Outraged villagers encouraged Mark to retaliate with cheeky events and newspapers.
He added: “The locals have now been coming up with unique ideas to get our own back. They want me to start a parish magazine called ‘vogue magazine’.
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“The latest idea is also we want to do a fashion week, ‘Vogue fashion week’, and get a big letterhead made, and then invite all the major magazines and companies to visit us.
“Everyone is willing to chip in. It’s becoming a really funny local story.”
While being a small business, Mark said that the pub is at the heart of the community – serving from 9am for breakfasts and closing at 11 or 12 in the evening.
Explaining people could not possibly make a connection between the two businesses, Mark added: “Our customer base is 95 percent locals. There’s a running joke that any tourists that end up here are normally lost.
Mark is a Royal Navy veteran and former tin miner
“I offered to buy their staff lunch too, and asked at the end of the letter for them to please reply to this letter in your own good time – dreckly would be appropriate.”
Dreckly is Cornish slang and means “sooner or later”. It was adopted due to the Cornish people’s relaxed lifestyle.
In his letter, Mark wrote: “I presume your magazine bases its name on the dictionary term for being in fashion which is uncapitalized as used in the Oxford English Dictionary.
“If a member of your staff had taken the time to investigate they would have discovered that our company, the Star Inn, is in the small village of Vogue, near St Day, Cornwall.
“Yes, that’s right, Vogue is the name of our village, which has been in existence for hundreds of years and in fact is a Cornish word, not English.
“I note in your letter that you have only been in existence since 1916 and I presume that at the time when you chose the name Vogue in the capitalized version you did not seek permission from the villagers of the real Vogue.
“I also presume that Madonna did not seek your permission to use the word Vogue (again the capitalized version) for her 1990s song of the same name.
“You are both at liberty to use the uncapitalized version without our permission. As a side note she did not seek our permission either.”
BBC Radio Cornwall has since reported that Vogue owner Condé Nast has backed down.
In a note to Mark and Rachel circulated online, Condé Nast state: “I am sure you will appreciate why we regularly monitor use of the VOGUE name, including at Companies House (which is how we were alerted to your company name).
“However, 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.
“Everyone at Condé Nast wishes you and everyone in Vogue best wishes for a happy summer, and for your upcoming ‘American Night’ on 18 May.”
Condé Nast has been approached for comment.