Let’s Kick Off Bazaar’s 150th Anniversary!

March 15, 2017

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Magazines are currently going through a rough patch because the digital era is taking over the world. That’s why I found it so reassuring when I came across an article titled 150 Years of Harper’s Bazaar by writer Stephen Mooallem who has done a superb job of researching and reporting on this exciting anniversary.

Courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar -- 1877

DO YOU REALIZE THAT HARPER’S BAZAAR
WAS FOUNDED IN 1867. THAT’S 53 YEARS
BEFORE ALL WOMEN IN AMERICA WERE
ALLOWED TO VOTE IN THE YEAR 1920.

 

At its inception, the name was spelled with one “a” but later “Bazar” was changed to “Bazaar” which is what we have today. The magazine was described as “a repository of fashion, pleasure and instruction.

Bazar magazine was founded by Harper & Brothers, a New York-based publishing firm that was run by four brothers: James, John, Joseph and Fletcher, the one who came up with the original idea of a publication for fashionable ladies.

Why did he come up with this? He observed that the Industrial Revolution had given rise to a new leisure class in America. He also noted that they were obsessed with all things European so Fletcher decided to offer a publication directed to the affluent female reader.

1894: The Thanksgiving-themed issue is one of the first to feature a color cover illustration

He selected a smart, 36-year-old writer and journalist as Editor-in-Chief of Bazar and together they worked on a magazine that operated as a kind of guide on how to live – and live well – in this new, modern world.

LAUNCHING THE FIRST ISSUE OF THIS LEGEND

The first issue of “Bazar” appeared on November 2, 1867. From the outset it was clear that Bazar’s definition of fashion went far beyond clothes. [Pardon the cheeky analogy, but this is what we try to do at ADEA.] For example, the magazine reported on style and how to tie a bow and pin a bun – BUT there were also insightful pieces on family, work and social issues. Writers such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Henry James and later, Thomas Hardy, all contributed to Bazar.

GOING SLOW-AND-EASY ON THE POLITICAL SCENE

One area that Fletcher Harper explicitly identified as beyond the magazine’s purview was politics. Bazar would be a window on the world, but pleasingly so, to appeal to a cross-section of people on different sides of the modern divide.

HEIGHTENING THE DRAMA OF HAUTE COUTURE

The magazine also displayed an early appreciation for the theatre of fashion. A piece appeared in the July 29, 1871 issue on Charles Frederick Worth, the designer who founded a fashion salon named The House of Worth, and who is considered by many to be the father of haute couture.

Audrey Hepburn photographed by Richard Avedon – 1956. Courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar 

A scene in his atelier is described in Bazar like this, “Around him were a bevy of women: some pretty, some ugly, listening to his observations with the rapt attention of the disciples of a sage. He called them up before him like schoolgirls and after inspecting them, praised or blamed their dresses.” To Harper’s Bazar this was all fashion.

MAY WE SUGGEST…

We’re heading for a seasonal change so why not take a good, hard look at your wardrobe. We’re offering camisoles, layering tops, lingerie and tees in a wide range of sizes (yes, we carry plus sizes) colors and styles. Take a look.

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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