Its Carmel, Miss Snow if you’re nasty…
Paris: The Lean Black Line, The Cloud of White Fox_
Reading Carmel Snow’s report on the Paris Haute Couture from the 1954 September issue of Harper’s Bazaar invites a wry smile. For instance:
“In general new materials are at their inventive best…Wool and Orlon woven with a puffy surface. Jerseys ribbed exactly like corduroy. Acetate and wool shot with a gilt thread..
Balenciaga’s giant puff of white fox, abloom with a pale rose… News because it’s more hat, and more allure, than we’ve known recently…”
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Funny Fact: Carmel White married a society lawyer called George Palen Snow so I guess you could say she was as pale n’ white as snow or just call her Snow White. Hilarious, no?
It all seems so quaint and outmoded now but flicking through the pages I realised how closely linked Couture was to general fashion for the masses. It wasn’t just a laboratory of ideas and overblown fantasies to help shift a few tubes of mascara and bottles of Eau de Piss in the duty free at Stanstead Airport. The clothes featured were fantastic but they were also real – real, expensive clothes for real, expensive women. And the not so expensive but nevertheless just as real women emulated those outfits or aspired to owning the real thing. It all seemed attainable. Couture was relevant. Nowadays ready-to-wear has more influence. Prada, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton, none show couture but their influence is irrefutable.
Snow-White’s many, many dwarves_
Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl Wolfe, Diana Vreeland, Alexey Brodovitch, Truman Capote, Jean Cocteau, Lauren Bacall… The list of photographers, artists and tastemakers Carmel Snow discovered, worked with or supported is endless. She coined “The New look” in reference to Dior’s 1947 collection. Genius? Most definitely. Its hard to comprehend how vital and influential she was but in her time she was every bit as powerful as Anna Wintour, if not more so. Carmel, we salute you.
PS Miss C was apparently fond of a noonday tipple or two. We like that in a girl round these parts…