Monday, February 4, 2013

Grace Coddington And Liz Tilberis

First things first, I'm participating in the Mama Monday series over at Ava Grace's Closet today.  Head over and check it out!
This weekend I zipped through the book Grace: A Memoir by legendary fashion editor Grace Coddington.  Being as fashion magazine obsessed as I am, I must say I loved it!  I loved every story, tidbit, opinion, just everything.  I felt like she was chatting with me and telling me all these stories about all these legendary photographers/models/editors.  I just ate it up.  She is arguably the greatest fashion editor of all time, with her ability to tell a story and create a mood with the editorials she styles.  That being said, I was so happy that she devoted a chapter to her great friendship with Liz Tilberis the late Editor-In-Chief of Harper's Bazaar.  And while I adore Grace, I positively worship Liz. 

You see, Liz took Harper's Bazaar to another level back in 1992 when she took over as Editor-In-Chief.  Way back in the late 80's/early 90's Bazaar was sort of a garish, cluttered, very dated magazine.  I should know, I was a subscriber (well, my Mom subscribed for me - ha!).  It was never quite as sophisticated as Vogue.  It had cheesy features, the one that stands out the most was it's annual "50 Most Beautiful Women In The World", which while lovely felt so forced.  But when Liz took over she brought in some amazingly creative people (like Fabien Baron and photographer Patrick Demarchelier poached from Vogue), and in September 1992 this issue arrived in my mailbox and proceeded to blow my mind.
(and yes I still have it)

She and her team had created the most beautiful, well-designed magazine that felt both modern yet familiar in an almost retro way.  It was the best of every world.  So sophisticated.  I remember holding that issue up and saying to no one in particular "Well, things just got interesting."  I was obsessed.  Obsessed with every photo, model, layout, just everything.  It was genius in every way.  Her magazine created instant buzz in the publishing world, picking up award after award. Every month a new beautifully designed fantasy landed in my mailbox.  Her Editor Letters were fun and familiar (though not as good as Linda Wells at Allure - she writes the best ones in the business), she was enchanting and I was under the spell.  Liz was my girl!
And then Liz was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She bravely fought it for years and I rooted for her in every way.  She was so open and honest about her struggles.  So much so that in 1998 she wrote a really great memoir called No Time To Die.  Which I would highly recommend picking up, especially if you have read Grace.  She ultimately died in April of 1999 at the age of 51.  Too young.  And thus ended a most creative and inspiring period of fashion magazines, in my opinion. 

And to me, nothing seemed quite the same.  Certainly not at Bazaar, where Kate Betts (formerly News Director of Vogue) took over as Editor-In-Chief and changed everything, including the Bazaar logo (!), so much so that it felt like some weird publication that seemed to slant to a very young crowd.  I like Kate Betts, but it was just an ill fit.  But honestly, no magazine felt the same, the models all but disappeared from covers, the celebrity culture took over and the fantasy seemed to be pushed to the background.  It makes me sound old, but I do miss those days.

Images via


  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I definitely want to read the book but unfortunately most of my reading is dedicated to grad school now. And thanks for telling me more about Liz Tilberis - she sounds awesome! Harper's Bazaar is odd now... I rarely find myself drawn to it :/

  2. Wow! Thanks for the background that I hadn't heard of. So interesting!!


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