Carmel Snow

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Carmel Snow
Born Carmel White
Died 1961
Occupation Magazine editor
Employer Vogue, Harper's Bazaar

Carmel Snow, born Carmel White (1887 – 1961), named after Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Was the editor-in-chief of the American edition of Harper's Bazaar from 1934 to 1958; she also served as the chair of that magazine's editorial board.[1][2][3] She was famously quoted as saying, "Elegance is good taste, plus a dash of daring".[4]


Early life[edit]

She was born in Dublin, but she and her mother Annie moved to America when Carmel was a child.[1] Her father Peter White caught pneumonia and died on April 7, 1893, before the move.[1] Her mother eventually became a noted dressmaker for rich New York socialites.[1]

In 1903 Carmel attended school at a convent in Brussels; the Soeurs de Sainte- Marie is where she mastered her understanding of French.[4]


In 1921 she was offered the job of assistant fashion editor at Vogue by Condé Nast.[1] In 1926 she was appointed as fashion editor at Vogue.[1][5] In 1926, she also married George Palen Snow; wearing a gown of cream white satin trimmed with seed pearls and old Burano lace that had been in her family for many years.[6][1] She later had three daughters; it was rumored that one of them suffered from schizophrenia, but this diagnosis has not been confirmed.[7][1]

In 1929 her brother Tom White became general manager of the Hearst publishing organization.[1] Though Carmel had promised Condé Nast she would not take a job there, she did take a job at Harper's Bazaar.[1] She famously described her goal at Harper's Bazaar as creating a magazine for "well-dressed women with well-dressed minds".[4]

She discovered Martin Munkacsi, and in 1933 and persuaded him to photograph the Harper’s Bazaar December edition’s ‘Palm Beach’ bathing suit editorial.[1] For this editorial, he had the model Lucille Brokaw run toward the camera while he photographed, which was the first instance of a fashion model being photographed in motion.[1][4]

Snow[clarification needed]became editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar in 1934.[1]

She hired her art director Alexey Brodovitch on the basis of a 1934 exhibition of his work in graphic design at the Art Directors Club of New York.[4] She described his exhibit as a revelation, mentioning "pages that bled beautifully, cropped photographs, typography and design that were bold and interesting".[4] She found her fashion editor, Diana Vreeland, after noticing her dancing across a crowded room.[8][4]

In 1947 she exclaimed, "It's such a new look!", thus coining that phrase in regard to Christian Dior's 1947 collection.[9][10]

Snow was working with her long-time collaborator Mary Louis Aswell on her memoir, The World of Carmel Snow, when she (Carmel) died in 1961.[11][1] The book was published posthumously.[4]

As to why Carmel's reputation faded, while Vreeland's did not, photographer Richard Avedon (quoted in a 2005 biography[12] of Carmel by Penelope Rowlands) said: "She was older, right? and she died before stardom was the thing."[4]

Further reading[edit]

  • A Dash of Daring: Carmel Snow and Her Life in Fashion, Art, and Letters (2005), by Penelope Rowlands
  • The World of Carmel Snow (1962), by Carmel Snow and Mary Louis Aswell