It didn’t launch with splashy fanfare or an unforgettable party—and certainly not due to a debilitating world crisis. No, when Harper’s Bazaar published its very first issue on this day in 1867, it quietly arrived on newsstands and in the mailboxes of select society ladies. The first issue, pictured at left, was “dedicated to fashion and literature,” was published weekly and on newsprint, and featured a much different logo and slightly shorter spelling. Presumably, articles discussed bustles and bonnets, and the merits of crinolines, petticoats and hoop skirts, good behavior and acceptable pastimes. To date, it is the longest running women’s fashion magazine in the world, with a rich lineage of editors—including Diana Vreeland and Carmel Snow—photographers and art directors, and pioneered fashion photography as we know it today. Bazaar consistently featured illustrations on its covers through the 1930s (though it had published a few photographs of well-to-do women), but always maintained clean visuals and excessive white space on its covers until the 1970s, when busy cover lines and screaming advertisements became the unfortunate mainstay. After the jump, On This Day In Fashion ogles a few of our favorite classic covers from 143 years of Harper’s Bazaar.
Left: Photographer Richard Avedon worked at Bazaar from 1946 to 1966 and created some of the most beautiful magazine covers of all time. At right, the January 1915 issue featured the first cover illustrated by the fabulous artist, Erté.
Left: Another Erté cover, this one using the eye-catching impact of primary red and yellow. Right: July 1956: One of the many amazing covers created by famed art director (1938–1958) Alexey Brodovitch, this one nodding toward Modernism.
Two more Avedon covers, from December 1959 (left) and December 1958.
Left: At right, a curious 1924 Christmas issue. The bold black and white graphics are embellished with a colorful minaret and sad jester. A nod to The Nutcracker, perhaps? —Ali Basye