Happy-Go-Lucky Book Review. “A Dash o Daring. Carmel Snow and her life in fashion, art and letters.” by Penelope Rowlands.
by Cashmere Wrap & Macadamia Nuts
Carmel Snow, larger than life editor of the American Harpers Bazaar, who before joining the enemy camp worked in the American Vogue under none other than Edna Chase. A woman who discovered Diana Vreeland, promoted Richard Avedon and numerous personas in the fashion industry, one who loved fashion, never step away from a challenge and lived her life “with a dash of daring”.
Born in Ireland as Carmel White, she moved with her mother and numerous siblings to United States of America in pursue of better life and open career opportunities. As a young woman, she worked at her mother’s New York based couture shop, after hours being a notorious fun loving girl, who was rumored to sleep while dancing. Her encounter with Conde Nast secured her a position in the American Vogue, where she continued for several years, staying in the shadow of the imperious Edna Chase. Carmel, now Snow, after her marriage to Palen Snow, couldn’t fully realize her enormous creative potential and at one point in her life did the unthinkable, joining Harpers Bazaar and moving to Hearst publishings. This betrayal was never forgiven, but… if not for her bold decision, we might have never had Harpers Bazaar as the glamorous magazine as we know it today. The rest is history with a truly amazing heroine at the centre of a stage.
Once responsible for Harpers Bazaar, as an editor in chief, Carmel Snow transformed this declining magazine into real fashion book, presenting innovative photo editorials, offering articles and stories contributed by reputable writers as well as giving us Vreeland’s ever famous “Why Don’t You…?” column (“Why Don’t You… tie an enormous bunch of silver balloons on the foot of your child’s bed on Christmas Eve?”). Her fascination with French couture made her take many risks, like traveling to Paris in 1944 in order to report latest designs to her American readers as well as inform about the extend of war tragedies and destructions. Her efforts to revive French Couture were recognized in 1949, when Mrs. Snow received Legion of Honor.
According to Christian Dior, “no show ever began until Mrs. Snow arrived”. Later on in his career Dior had many reasons to offer her best sits during presentations of his collections, as it was Carmel Snow herself who baptized his innovative 1947 line into world famous New Look. Carmel Snow had an extraordinary intuition when it came to fashion and an impeccable sense of style, that distinguished her from even most fashionable crowd. She was the most respected and at the same time feared persona in the world of fashion magazines, her wit as well as sharpness were legendary. As observed by Hubert de Givenchy, “She registered more than anyone else. Her talent was enormous. Madame Snow understood”. Even though her retirement was turbulent and quite sad to say the least, till this day Carmel Snow is an icon of fashion journalism and her story is definitely worth reading.