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A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life in Fashion, Art, and Lettersby Penelope Rowlands
"I found this energetic but deeply elegiac book, despite its occasional breathlessness and sloppy writing, endlessly absorbing, because it's among the most detailed, precise, and hence evocative accounts of a notoriously rarefied world." Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
Synopses & Reviews
Carmel Snow, who changed the course of our culture by launching the careers of some of today's greatest figures in fashion and the arts, was one of the most extraordinary women of the twentieth century. As editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar from 1934 to 1958 she championed the concept of "a well-dressed magazine for the well-dressed mind," bringing cutting-edge art, fiction, photography, and reportage into the American home.
Now comes A Dash of Daring, a first and definitive biography of this larger-than-life figure in publishing, art, and letters. Veteran magazine journalist Penelope Rowlands describes the remarkable places Snow frequented and the people whose lives she transformed, among them Richard Avedon, Diana Vreeland, Geoffrey Beene, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cristobal Balenciaga, Lauren Bacall, and Truman Capote.
She chronicles Snow's life on both sides of the Atlantic, beginning in nineteenth-century Ireland and continuing to Paris, Milan, and New York City, the fashion capitals of the world.
Snow was the daughter of an Irish immigrant, who was herself a forward-thinking businesswoman, and she worked in her mother's custom dressmaking shop before being discovered by the magazine publisher Conde Nast and training under Edna Woolman Chase, the famous longtime editor of Vogue. From there it was on to Harper's Bazaar which, with the help of such key employees as Avedon, Vreeland, and art director Alexei Brodovitch, Snow turned into the most admired magazine of the century. Among the disparate talents who worked at Bazaar in the Snow era were Andy Warhol, the heiress Doris Duke, Maeve Brennan, and members of the storied Algonquin Round Table.
Overflowing with previously untold stories of the colorful and glamorous, A Dash of Daring is a compelling portrait of the fashion world during a golden era.
"From her perch as editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar from 1932 to 1957, Carmel Snow (18871961) defined fashion for hundreds of thousands of American women for a quarter century. Her apprenticeship in fashion journalism began when Condé Nast hired her at Vogue in 1922. Jumping ship a decade later to work for Nast's rival, Hearst's Bazaar, Snow set out to redefine the fashion magazine to include anything — fiction, diets, theater reviews, politics — of interest to a fashionable woman. To give Bazaar a unique and arresting visual style, she hired layout artist Alexei Brodovitch, plus a succession of innovative photographers: Man Ray, Munkasci, Dahl-Wolfe, Avedon. For verbal flair, Snow hired the always outrageous Diana Vreeland, and commissioned works from creative artists like Truman Capote and Andy Warhol. Rowlands, who freelances for the fashion press, is great at explaining the fashion world — the rise and fall of key designers, or the significance of various styles. But she's clearly uncomfortable exploring Snow's personal side; the editor never emerges as a flesh-and-blood woman until the last chapters, when she's being unwillingly retired from Bazaar. Still, this lavishly illustrated and entertainingly informative fashion bio is 'must' reading for the W set." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Rowlands's finely researched biography is a frothy read — like leafing through decades' worth of fashion magazines..." The New Yorker
"[A]fter more than 500 pages...it was not clear to me why [Rowlands] thought a fashion editor from a largely forgotten era should matter to us today. Rowlands successfully tells the story of Snow's life, but its larger significance eludes her." Cathy Horyn, The New York Times Book Review
An extraordinary woman of the 20th century whose stewardship of Harper's Bazaar helped to redefine fashion journalism, Carmel Snow lived larger than life. This compelling portrait of the fashion world and its golden era includes untold stories of the colorful and the glamorous.
About the Author
Penelope Rowlands is a journalist who contributed to numerous magazines, including Vogue, Architectural Digest, W, The New York Times Magazine, and ARTnews from both the United States and France. She now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
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