March 1–April 2
Gallery FIT, The Museum at FIT
Love Harper’s Bazaar? Then attend the upcoming “Collaboration in Fashion” discussion, where Charlotte Cowles, Senior Features Editor of Harper’s Bazaar, will sit down with Becca McCharen, founder of the fashion line Chromat, and stylist Christian Stroble to discuss how collaboration inspires and enriches their work. To learn more, visit the Museum at FIT’s website.
The Fashion Institute of Technology’s School of Graduate Studies, together with The Museum at FIT, present The Women of Harper’s Bazaar, 1936-1958, an exhibition that explores the dynamic collaboration among the magazine’s editor-in-chief Carmel Snow, fashion editor Diana Vreeland, and photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe. For twenty-two years, this visionary trio transformed Harper’s Bazaar into the definitive American fashion magazine, with a point of view that was simultaneously fresh and sophisticated, intelligent and playful—what Snow memorably described as a publication for “well-dressed women with well-dressed minds.” This will mark the first time this important collaboration has been examined in an exhibition, and it anticipates Harper’s Bazaar’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
Vreeland, Dahl-Wolfe, and Snow reinvigorated Harper’s Bazaar by combining their individual talents: Diana Vreeland’s imaginative, resourceful approach to her work, Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s ability to create photographic masterpieces in natural settings, and the forward-thinking attitude and creativity behind Carmel Snow’s “genius for picking other people of genius.”
The extent of the three women’s extraordinary work will be depicted through a series of photographs and documents displayed alongside garments similar to those found within the pages of the magazine. Nine garments selected from both couture and ready-to-wear designers will exemplify the vast array of worldly, captivating styles highlighted in Harper’s Bazaar. For example:
A Dahl-Wolfe photograph of Christian Dior’s famous Mystère coat from his groundbreaking 1947 collection will be represented by a 1954 Christian Dior New York black coat. The similarities between the two garments will highlight the lasting impact of the collection that Snow christened “A New Look.”
A gown by designer Charles James will be shown alongside a Louise Dahl-Wolfe photograph mimicking the structural silhouettes of American evening wear represented in the magazine.
A gray wool jersey swimsuit by Claire McCardell in the designer’s signature diaper style will be shown with a similar design from the May 1946 issue of the magazine.
An embroidered, elephant-motif top by American designer Carolyn Schnurer will be paired with a photograph of the same garment in an inverted color scheme that was featured in the December 1952 issue of Harper’s Bazaar. This piece epitomizes the designer’s exemplary embroidery and whimsical sportswear, perfectly suited to an American woman’s lifestyle during the era.
The Women of Harper’s Bazaar, 1936-1958 will also include additional selections from The Museum at FIT’s extensive collection of Louise Dahl-Wolfe’s color photographs and ephemera, donated to the museum by the photographer. Copper plates and the resulting color proofs from a 1953 photo shoot by Dahl-Wolfe, featuring model Jean Patchett in a Givenchy ensemble, will provide a glimpse into the printing process that transformed the photographer’s images into lively magazine spreads.
Personal letters between Carmel Snow and model Mary Jane Russell describing a memorable fashion editorial from the Paris collections in 1951 also will be on display. Behind-the-scenes photographs and alternate images from the famous 1942 Arizona desert photo shoot at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pauson house—styled by Vreeland—will illustrate the shared creative process that took place when Vreeland stepped in as the model after Bijou Barrington fell ill from heat stroke. A pair of thick-framed Claire McCardell sunglasses will evoke the warm, summer attitude portrayed on the resulting cover image.
Biographical sections will emphasize the three women’s backgrounds, providing context for their successful alliance and highlighting their unique contributions to the magazine’s legacy. The Women of Harper’s Bazaar, 1936-1958 celebrates a particularly synergistic creative collaboration within the magazine and brings to life a transformative era in women’s fashion.