A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life In Fashion, Art, and Letters

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9780743480468: A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life In Fashion, Art, and Letters

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.

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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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One: Chippendale and Cottage

Out of Ireland we came...

-- W. B. Yeats

"It could be happening" is the time-honored way that the Irish stories begin, and the story of Carmel Snow, who just may have been the greatest fashion editor ever, begins in a way that is about as Irish as any story could possibly get -- at least one that played out in New York and, crucially, in Paris, far more extensively than in Ireland. It could be happening that in Dalkey, a coastal village eight miles southeast of Dublin, one evening in 1887 -- August 27, to be exact -- labor pains caused a respectable matron named Annie White to rise up, as majestic as an ocean liner, from the table where a convivial, family-packed dinner party was taking place.

Dressed in one of the tentlike, floor-length gowns of the day, her habitual train sweeping behind her, this huge-breasted, amply built woman climbed into a waiting carriage, her youthful-looking husband, Peter White, in tow, and headed home to Saint Justin's, their large house overlooking the slate-blue Dublin Bay, where she gave birth to a spritelike creature, their third child and younger daughter, whom the couple piously named for Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The infant was baptized a week later at the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dalkey, a tiny, picturesque town that would be later known for its artistic inhabitants, James Joyce and George Bernard Shaw among them, but was then a fairly sleepy place, ancient in origin, and home to not just one castle but two.

The child's earliest years were spent in a constellation of six children in an atmosphere that a relative described as "both Chippendale and cottage." Carmel's parents had married in September 1883, in yet another Dublin suburb, Rathmines. Their union had been quickly blessed with a child -- Tom was born just over a year later -- and from then on others arrived in quick succession. Christine Mary came next, in July 1886, and then Carmel, whose middle name was also Mary, the following summer. Three other children -- Peter Desmond (known as Desmond), Victor Gerald, and James -- followed, all of them male and spaced about a year apart. The last was born in 1892.

Annie White's branch of the family was the more prominent one -- "Chippendale," if you will; her father was a prosperous merchant named Thomas Mayne who later served as a member of Parliament for eighteen years. Peter White's side, the "cottage" one, was literally more down to earth: his late father, also named Thomas, had been a farmer. From both directions, the children were inescapably Irish -- never an uncomplicated thing to be.

Ireland had been a "lordship" of the English crown since it was conquered by that country in the 1100s. Over the centuries, the extent of its Englishness had waxed and waned. By the time the young Whites were born, Irish nationalist feelings were running strong. Charles Stuart Parnell and other leaders were campaigning for home rule, which called for increased autonomy from Britain. It was a cause that Thomas Mayne, Annie White's father, whom an American newspaper described as belonging "to the old guard of Irish patriots," vehemently supported. His son-in-law, Peter White, born of the soil, was also a Parnellite, And he counted a prominent activist of the era, Michael Davitt, among his friends. (Davitt was, in fact, the Whites' landlord in Dalkey.)

A photograph, probably taken in the early 1890s, shows Peter White to be a handsome, solidly built fellow with light eyes, a long mustache -- almost a requirement of the era -- and a deep cleft in his chin, something he seems to have bequeathed to many of his male descendants. He was Irish to the core. In his work for the Irish Woolen Manufacturing and Export Company in Dublin, he aimed to resurrect a once-thriving national industry that, thanks to stiff tariffs and competition, notably from Scotland, had been in danger of dying out. Harris tweed had long eclipsed Donegal.

Ironically, by building a reputation for reviving dying industries in a country that seemed full of them, White ensured that his children's lives would unfold outside of Ireland. But none of that was clear, of course, when he was asked by the viceroy of Ireland, Lord Aberdeen, and his wife, the former Ishbel (the Gaelic variation of Isabel) Maria Marjoribanks, to be honorary secretary of the Irish Industries Association. (Lady Aberdeen was its president.)

It was once again, as it had so often been, a desperate time for Ireland, and the Aberdeens were determined to help. Together, they came up with a plan to use the small, craftsy things -- from lacework to bog wood ornaments -- that had been produced forever in Ireland's far-flung cottages and convents to turn the country's fortunes around. Besides reviving the country's traditional crafts, they wanted also to provide training in their production, thereby ensuring that some of its desperate citizenry had at least piecemeal work. Along the way, it was hoped, Ireland's image would be enhanced. "Irish goods were not sought after by the people who wanted the best things" is the delicate way the New York Times phrased the matter (in a 1911 article), "but in 1886, with the coming to Dublin of the Earl of Aberdeen, a movement for improving and extending the sale of Irish products began to take hold."

A Scotsman, Lord Aberdeen had recently been appointed to his post by the English Liberal prime minister William Ewart Gladstone. Newly in love with Ireland, he and his wife went straight to work on the seemingly intractable problems of their new country. For Ishbel, it was second nature to throw herself into a cause. Like her husband, she was the product of an aristocratic Scottish family. Born in 1857, she possessed a first-class intellect (she was said to have taught herself to read at the age of three) that, sadly, can't quite be described as irrepressible. While she longed to go to Girton College, Cambridge University's only school for women -- in truth, the perfect place for her -- she was prevented from doing so by her very traditional father. After her marriage, in 1877, Ishbel began what would become her life's work, aiding the poor. There seemed to be no limit to her charity.

The Emerald Isle was "still in the grip of poverty such as America has never known, not even in a depression," as Carmel later described it. It was rife with struggle of one sort or another. While the great famines of earlier in the century had subsided, the country was still reeling from an agricultural crisis that had climaxed in the 1870s. Much of its population was desperately poor. And the home rule struggle seemed perpetual; anarchy, or at least violence, flared up intermittently, notably after the Land League was banned in 1881. "Ireland is laid on us to do all in our power for her forever," Ishbel wrote in her diary. Before long, she and Peter White were putting in time on the country's unpaved, back-country roads, tirelessly scouting out both crafts and workers.

Peter White was perfect for the job. He was charismatic and hardworking, and he didn't hesitate to deploy his considerable charm in the service of the mission at hand. Before too long, he was making frequent trips to the United States, something he'd first done in the name of Irish wool. An article in the Citizen, a Chicago newspaper, gives an indication of how breathlessly this dashing Irishman -- still in his thirties -- was received in the New World. "Ireland never selected a more fortunate representative than Mr. Peter White," it reads. "His amiable and sensitive manner wins confidence everywhere."

For all their love of the place, the Aberdeens didn't last long in Ireland. They were just one domino in a row of them, and they all toppled over, one after another, in a long, jagged line. First, home rule lost in the House of Commons. Then Gladstone's Liberal Party collapsed. Its prime minister was out. And so, of course, were the Aberdeens. But in their time across the Irish Sea, they'd won over the desperate populace. As they headed back to England, people lined the streets, some weeping extravagantly; at one point, the couple's horses were unhitched and their carriage pulled along, ecstatically, by the crowd. "The scene in Dublin on his leavetaking after the fall of the Gladstone cabinet is said to have been such as never before witnessed since the days of O'Connel," the Chicago Times reported. The Aberdeens returned this loyalty by continuing their various pro-Irish endeavors after they'd returned home.

In 1888, when announcement was made that the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 -- soon to be known universally, if not correctly, as the Chicago World's Fair -- was being put together, the Aberdeens seized the moment, heading to the United States with both Whites in tow to raise money to finance an exhibit of Irish exports at the fair, which Peter White would organize and oversee. For the next few years, he and Lady Aberdeen traveled all over Ireland, visiting workers and meeting with officials, including the lord mayor of Dublin, to build support for the project. White made several visits to Chicago, and by 1892 had acquired the fairly grand title of Irish commissioner to the World's Fair.

The Aberdeens hoped to return to Ireland if Gladstone returned to power. But when he did, in 1892, some last-minute political maneuvering resulted in someone else being named Ireland's viceroy instead. As a consolation prize, the prime minister awarded Aberdeen the post of governor general of Canada. The Irish Pavilion would go forward, but with much less involvement from the Aberdeens.

In February 1893, just a few months before the fair was to open, White and Lady Aberdeen set out for one last tour, this time to the South "to pick the 'colleens' who would represent the Irish industries," as Carmel wrote. But then, as it so often does in Irish tales, death played its hand. White had already had lung trouble -- the whole family tended toward t...

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Descrizione libro Atria Books, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.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. Codice libro della libreria AAV9780743480468

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Descrizione libro Atria Books, United States, 2008. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. 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. Codice libro della libreria AAV9780743480468

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Descrizione libro Atria Books. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Paperback. 576 pages. Dimensions: 9.1in. x 7.3in. x 1.6in.Carmel Snow, who changed the course of our culture by launching the careers of some of todays greatest figures in fashion and the arts, was one of the most extraordinary women of the twentieth century. As editor in chief of Harpers 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 Snows 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 mothers 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 Harpers 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. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Codice libro della libreria 9780743480468

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