Ernestine Carter OBE (10 October 1906 - 1 August 1983) was a museum curator, journalist, and writer on fashion.
Ernestine Marie Fantl was born on 10 October 1906 in Savannah, Georgia, where she was brought up. She studied modern and contemporary art and design at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, from which she graduated in 1927. She started out as a curatorial assistant at the newly formed Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, where,between 1933 and 1937 she was Curator of Architecture and Industrial Art. In 1936 she married a British antiquarian book dealer, John Waynflete Carter (1905-1975), and the Carters eventually moved permanently to London.
During the Second World War Carter was employed by the British Ministry of Information. She worked on exhibitions and edited a book of photographs by Lee Miller titled Grim Glory: Pictures of Britain Under Fire (published London, 1941). The book, which included a foreword by Edward R. Murrow, went into five printings. Later in the war, Carter went to work for the American office of war information in London.
Carter worked on the important design exhibition Britain Can Make It, organised by the Council of Industrial Design and held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1946. That same year she became fashion editor for Harper's Bazaar. Her first trip to Paris for the magazine was to report on Christian Dior's landmark New Look collection, launched 12 February 1947.
Later career (1955-1972)
In 1955, Carter began editing the women's page of The Sunday Times. She became well known for the high standard of her journalism and writing, and eventually became associate editor of the paper in 1968. She encouraged the emergence of London as a major centre of fashion in the 1960s. Her intelligent prose and high standards led to her being recognised as an authoritative figure in the world of fashion. At a time when widespread intellectual snobbery led to the dismissal of fashion as a subject not worthy of serious consideration, Carter argued that fashion was "surely no more frivolous than architecture, to which it is closely related".
In 1966, she was the first individual fashion journalist to be invited to select an outfit for the Dress Of The Year, for which she chose a futuristic PVC and linen ensemble by Michèle Rosier, Young Jaeger and Simone Mirman.
Retirement and death
The Fashion Museum, Bath holds an important archive of 2000 fashion photographs from The Sunday Times during Ernestine Carter's tenure there. This is known both as the Ernestine Carter Collection and as The Sunday Times Fashion Archive. The Fashion Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum both own garments from Carter's wardrobe.
- Barbara Burman, ‘Carter , Ernestine Marie (1906–1983)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 30 May 2012
- Department of Circulating Exhibitions Records in The Museum of Modern Art Archives. Accessed 30 May 2012
- Sorel, Nancy Caldwell. The Women Who Wrote the War: The Riveting Saga of World War II's Daredevil Women Correspondents, page 195. Arcade Publishing, 1999. ISBN 9781559704939
- Evening dress worn by Ernestine Carter in the V&A Museum. Accessed 30 May 2012
- Benoit, Marie. Christian Dior: Couturier and perfumer. The Malta Independent Online. 4 December 2010, accessed 30 May 2012
- Carter, Ernestine, With Tongue in Chic (London, 1974) ISBN 978-0-7181-1298-1
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 13th June 1964, page 4948. Accessed 30 May 2012
- Dress of the Year, 1966 Accessed 30 May 2012.
- Bath's Fashion Museum to host 1960s display this March, BBC News. Accessed 30 May 2012
- Fashion Museum – Fashion photographs. Accessed 30 May 2012
- Garments worn by Ernestine Carter in the V&A collection. Accessed 30 May 2012
- Flash In The Pan (1953)
- 20th Century Fashion: a Scrapbook (1975)
- The Changing World of Fashion (1977)
- Magic Names of Fashion (1980)
- With Tongue in Chic (1974)