“Elegance is good taste plus a dash of daring”
You may not have have heard of Carmel Snow, but you most certainly know her legacy. Did you know one of the most iconic editors of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar was born in Dalkey, Dublin in 1887?
Carmel was a true original #girlbosses (pictured here with none other than Coco Chanel), discovered Diana Vreeland and also envisioned, shaped and shaked fashion. Her influence can be felt even today.
So who was this fashion force de jour, who was not only ahead of her time, but ours?
Born Carmel White in Dalkey, Dublin in 1887, Carmel ‘s mother was widowed from a young age and moved her family to America. Working as a dressmaker for some wealthy New York clients, her work to her to Paris – no better place for a young Carmel to get her fashion training and taste. In 1921 Carmel was offered a job as assistant fashion editor at Vogue Magazine by Condé Nast, before going on to become fashion editor. She then moved to Harper’s Bazaar in 1921 as Fashion editor and then Editor in Chief by 1934. A true visionary, Carmel lived fashion and choose to inject this passion into every issue, contact and season. Her work at these publications was beyond remarkable.
Carmel had an amazing eye for fostering and discovering new talent, she was always hungry, always looking for ways to shake the fashion world up and breathe minty fresh air into a somewhat closed, staid industry . She recognised and encouraged change, mixing up the often stiff and traditional fashion world.
Carmel reinvented the magazine photo shoot, by hiring Martin Munkacsi to shoot a Palm beach swimwear shoot. He photographed models running up and down the beach – before this photo shoots always took place in a studio, with stagnant models. Carmel also championed Russian art director Alexey Brodovitch , who’s graphics layouts changed the look of American magazines.
Carmel was the first to put Lauren Bacall in a magazine, discovered Diana Vreeland dancing at a party gave her a first job in fashion and invented the phrase ‘the New Look’ when she witnessed Christian Dior’s iconic collection in 1947. Carmel also championed Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Cecil Beaton, Henri Cartier Bresson and Richard Avedon. Regarded as the greatest fashion editor of all time, she did so when a fashion editors job was to be in the background, and let others enjoy the limelight.
My favourite Carmel Snow story describes her lunching with Cristóbal Balenciaga in Paris, and spotting actresses Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Pauline Goddard (who starred with Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times and The Great Dictator), beckoned them over to the table knowing they were huge fans of the designer. Carmel loved to connect, inspire and to continue the great joy that fashion brought to her.
Carmel died in New York City in 1961, laid out in one of her red brocade Cristóbal Balenciaga suits. Standing out in death as she did in life, in the most glamorous way possible.