This year marks the 145th anniversary of Harper’s Bazaar. It was founded in 1867, and is the oldest existing American fashion magazine. Today, I’m afraid that many consider Bazaar to be the also-ran fashion magazine, but it is hard to underestimate the influence the magazine has had on fashion history and culture. In the 1920s Erté was a frequent contributor, not only as an illustrator but also as a creator of original designs. And in the 1930s, editor Carmel Snow brought in the creative forces of Diana Vreeland, Irving Penn, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Alexey Brodovitch and then in the 1940s, Richard Avedon and Diane Arbus.
I’ve read many times that the 1957 movie Funny Face, starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire was based on Vogue magazine, but the editor character was based on Diana Vreeland, who was by then the fashion editor at Bazaar, and the photographer was based on Richard Avedon, chief photographer at Bazaar.
But both Vreeland and Avedon departed for Vogue in 1962, and under the editorship of Nancy White, Bazaar became to be regarded as the less modern of the two magazines. Bazaar further lost focus in the early 1970s under the direction of James Brady. Some readers were questioning whether it was actually still a fashion magazine.
Today Bazaar still trails Vogue in both readership and prestige, but pick up a copy from the 1920s through 1950s and you’ll see why for those years Bazaar was such an industry leader.
Photographer: Louise Dahl-Wolfe
Model: Not credited
Copyright: Hearst Corporation