• Fleur Cowles: Flair by design (1949-1951)

Triggs, Teal, 2022, Conference or Workshop, Fleur Cowles: Flair by design (1949-1951) at DHS Hidden Histories Gender in Design, London, 05 May 2022.

Abstract or Description:

Produced by visionary editor Fleur Cowles, Flair magazine (US, 1949-51) launched a new aesthetic paradigm for mass-produced lifestyle magazines. The magazine combined art, fashion, travel, and reportage, to epitomize its Editor’s formidable influence in promoting European émigrés and American talent. Cowles drew upon her network of bohemian friends to produce a self-consciously styled object in which literary astuteness and design (cut-out covers that reveal interior pages, three-dimensional pop-ups) were linked in new and powerful ways. She brought artists, designers, photographers, and writers together to fuel a 1950s aspirational readership: Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau, Saul Steinberg, Friedrich von Berzeviczy Pallavicini, Sylvia Braverman, Arnold Gingrich, Daria Guarnati, Truman Capote, and Tennessee Williams.

This paper introduces Fleur Cowles as a design catalyst and a ‘curator of people’. It takes as a starting point the pre-publication 1949 advertiser’s issue of Flair which announced ‘the monthly magazine for moderns’. This pre-issue established the design format and feel of subsequent twelve issues (and two collections in 1953 and 1996), with its cut-out cover, variety of paper stocks, range of printing and binding techniques, pull-out booklets and tipped in fabric inserts. Paul Rand designed some of the issues’ advertisements. The design of the publication according to General Manager, Arnold Gingrich, directly informed Flair’s ‘departure from the norms of exiting magazines.’ Through Flair, Cowles promoted columns featuring distinguished women, and commissioned women photographers and artists. Cowles was a privileged white woman from the social elite. She used this positioning to rethink magazine design history and showed how curatorial patronage could shape an important corner of bohemian culture in 1950s America.

Official URL: https://www.designhistorysociety.org/events/view/d...
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies
Creative Arts and Design > W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
School or Centre: School of Communication
Copyright Holders: Teal Triggs
Additional Information:

DHS - Hidden Histories: Gender in Design (session 5) Gender in Dress and Graphic Design. YouTube Recording documenting the session: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JM4OX-VZz0&t=1451s Images of Flair magazine under licensed agreement/permission for use by PARS International Corp/The New York Times Company.

Uncontrolled Keywords: Fleur Cowles; Flair Magazine; Graphic Design History; Publication History
Date Deposited: 08 Aug 2022 14:37
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2022 14:37
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5066
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