By Phin Upham
Harper’s Bazaar has helped to shape the face of women’s fashion, and to some extent the political face of fashion, since its inception in 1867. The magazine was founded on providing upper and middle class women with the latest fashion trends from Germany and Paris. During those early years, when the magazine was still printed weekly, several members were brought on to shape the magazine. As the publication transitioned into the monthly format we know today, there are three names who stand out among the famous staff.
Prior to Carmel Snow, fashion photography involved a mannequin displaying the dress or ensemble. Careful lighting was employed to highlight what were thought to be the best features. All of that changed when Snow invited fashion photographer Martin Munkacsi to a beach to shoot a woman modeling swimwear. As she ran toward the camera, Munkacsi clicked the shutter to take a photo that would come to define fashion photography.
To call Brodovitch obsessive when it came to cropping would be an understatement. It’s said that not even Man Ray’s work was safe from Brodovitch’s scissors. Another Snow hire, Brodovitch revamped the Bazaar logo and brought his cinematic eye to its graphic design. Although he was plagued by alcoholism, his layouts are considered to be the standard for modern fashion magazines.
Vreeland had so much pizzazz she had to coin that phrase to describe her personality. Snow hired Vreeland after seeing her dance on the roof of the St. Regis Hotel in New York, giving her the original assignment of writing her “Why Don’t You…” column. Her perception in wit allowed her to rise through the ranks, and many on staff who worked with have fondly recall Vreeland’s impact in the world of fashion at large.