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 added: “Please reply within seven days or we will take remedial action.”
Now in what has been dubbed a classic David versus Goliath battle, residents in the hamlet have rallied together and are prepared to go all the way to court.
The pub, which is running a £10 “American night” including Mac ‘n’ Cheese and pulled pork next week along with karaoke and cream teas, says it has no plans to change its name.
It intends 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.
“I 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,” Mr Graham told The Telegraph.
“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.
Happy to take them to court
“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 they need to 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.”
The hamlet’s name, Vogue, is scribbled in gray 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 about and any imagery it uses to make sure it obviously can’t 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. Having taken legal advice, he says he wants to make the company “turn up at our local court if they challenge us for the name – so they can’t just sit back in London”.
He thinks Vogue may have spotted the name when he and his wife decided to change their trading status from a partnership to a limited company and appeared on Companies House.
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”.
In his letter of reply to the company, Mr Graham wrote: “While I found your letter interesting on the one hand, I also found it hilariously funny.
“I presume your magazine bases its name on the dictionary term for being in fashion which is uncapitalised as used in the Oxford English Dictionary.”
He concluded by saying: “In answer to your question whether we would change our name, it is a categorical NO.”
Vogue and Condé Nast have been contacted for comment.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.