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A DASH OF DARING by Penelope Rowlands Simon & Schuster, 20 [pounds sterling], pp. 548, ISBN 0743480457 [telephone] 16 [pounds sterling] (plus 2.45 [pounds sterling] p&p) 0870 429 6655
Carmel Snow, routinely called 'the legendary Mrs Snow' by newspapers in her lifetime, edited the most perfect fashion magazine in the history of glossies, American Harper's Bazaar, for 25 years from 1933 to 1957. It's probably a fashion statement in itself ('Sooooo yesterday') that her legend has almost entirely faded from public memory. Having spent long years toiling as a professional mag-hag myself, I knew the mythopoeic bits already. It was Snow, at Christian Dior's first Paris show in 1947, who told son cher Tian that 'your dresses have such a new look', thereby ensuring a) his name and thunderous fortune, and b) the triumphant return of postwar Paris as the centre of the world's fashion industry. (For which she was awarded the Legion d'honneur in 1949.)
It was Snow who famously created a magazine for 'the well-dressed woman with a well-dressed mind'. It …