01/05/2012 § 5 Comments
This weekend while on a walk in my neighborhood, I stopped by one of my favorite shops in Tribeca, Philip Williams Posters, on a bit of a lark. While the store is best known for its collection of vintage posters, my attention was drawn from the window by what looked like a massive stack of magazines. Once inside, I simultaneously realized that they were Life Magazines and that my afternoon was pretty much sealed.
You already know how much I love Life Magazine: I collect them, I read virtual copies on Google Books and wander for (way too many) hours in the online archive. Coming at this cache of vintage media from multiple directions sometimes provides the opportunity for the kind of pleasant surprise I had this weekend.
First off, you put a horse on anything and I will at least give it a second look. You put one on the cover of a Life Magazine from the 1930s and mention it’s a polo pony? Dead. Before even cracking this baby open, I knew it was coming home with me. But when I did, I realized I was already familiar with the photos inside as they were part of a set that I had discovered in the archives a few weeks ago — and trust me when I say there is nothing in there tagged “polo” that I haven’t already seen.
The feature is about George H. “Pete” Bostwick (August 14, 1909 – January 13, 1982), steeplechase jockey, horse trainer, 8-goal polo player and grandson to Jabez A. Bostwick, a founder and treasurer of Standard Oil Company of New York and partner of John D. Rockefeller. Pete’s favored game, high-goal polo, was a pastime of the wealthy in the 1930s, but Pete made an unprecedented, egalitarian move: he invited the public to watch him and his friends play at Bostwick Field on Long Island, charging only fifty cents for admission. It was an immediate hit.
These photos were taken 1937 in Long Island by Alfred Eisenstaedt. Because relatively few actually made it into the issue, having access to the archive allowed me to really enjoy even more photos than were published. This is about to be a long post, so I must apologize in advance if you don’t enjoy looking at black and white photos of horses, polo or people in their Sunday best. I will apologize, but I’ll think you’re kinda crazy.
If you’d like to read the feature yourself, you can find it here, via Google Books.
Philip Williams Posters || 122 Chambers St., Tribeca || 212.513.0313
12/02/2012 § 3 Comments
When I found these pictures of Carmel Snow, Editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar from 1934 to 1958, I will admit that I did not know very much about her. With a little research, I discovered that I wasn’t alone. It seems as though fashion has largely forgotten Ms. Snow, who existed in an era before star Editors like Vreeland, Wintour, Bailey or Alt, but what I discovered was quite a remarkable story about a remarkable woman that bears repeating.
- Carmel Snow was at Vogue from 1923 until 1933 as an editor, and resigned largely because she wanted to make the fashion editorial more more innovative: take it out of the formal studio setting with artificial light, experiment with shooting on location, etc., and was met with resistance. She joined Harper’s Bazaar a month after her departure from Vogue. Her former mentor and boss, Conde Nast, considered it a betrayal and never spoke to her again.
- Harper’s Bazaar, under Snow, became the first fashion magazine to shoot fashion outdoors and the first to show a model in motion, in 1933. Can you imagine if all of today’s editorials were still shot in-studio?
- She nurtured the careers of several imminent photographers, most notably Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassai and Richard Avedon, who said of Snow “Carmel Snow taught me everything I know.”
- Snow also discovered Diana Vreeland at a party and brought her on as a fashion editor at Harper’s. Vreeland of course went on to be the Editor-in-chief at Vogue from 1963 to 1971.
- The woman worked hard and was definitely ahead of her time. She didn’t marry until her 30s, had her three children well into her 40s, working through her pregnancies and after her children were born. She didn’t resign until she was well into her 70s.
- She rarely slept or ate, but was very fond of the three martini lunch. She had something of a reputation of nodding off at fashion shows after one too many cocktails. Her drinking accelerated as she grew older.
- While small in stature, she was the kind of domineering boss that could successfully keep Vreeland in check and challenge her boss, William Randolph Hearst, prompting a famous memo in which he stated: “Does anyone have any control over Mrs. Snow? I KNOW I don’t.”
- She definitely had her eccentricities: she was never without her pearls, dyed her grey curls a pale shade of blue or lavender, snipped the labels of her couture to avoid customs fees, and though married, was most certainly obsessed with Cristobal Balenciaga (who was most certainly gay).
To sit with these two amazing ladies. To be a fly on that wall…
Also, hello bracelet! Amazing!
Snow with Alexey Brodovitch (kneeling), 1952. Taken by Walter Sanders.
For further reading:
A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life In Fashion, Art, and Letters by Penelope Rowlands. Officially added to my shortlist!
A charming article from Life Magazine, “Reporting Paris Styles is a Business: Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar cover Openings,” details Paris fashion week in 1937 and the competition between Carmel Snow and Vogue editor Edna Woolman Chase.
Previous Persons of the Hour can be found here.
All images via Life.
16/10/2011 § 7 Comments
No, no, not that American Girl.*
From 1917 until 1979 Girl Scouts published a magazine, originally called “The Rally” (1917–1920) and then “The American Girl.” At one time this magazine had the largest circulation of any magazine aimed at teen-aged girls.
I really love some of the covers from the 1930s.
For more, head over to How To Be A Retronaut.
*I did own one of those dolls, though. Bonus points if you can guess which one.