140 Years Of Fashion Trend-Setting

Harper's Bazaar CBS

Before fashion was a billion dollar business, before designers were household names, and before many women could even afford to care if what they wore was the trendiest, the latest and the best, there was Harper's Bazaar.

First published in November 1867, Harper's Bazar (the other "A" came later) was the first homegrown weekly to challenge what had mostly been a French monopoly on fashion magazines. At the time the magazine was cutting-edge stuff.

"I don't know if it's fair to say it rocked the fashion world of the 1860s but it certainly was the premier fashion magazine in late 19th century America," F.I.T professor Valerie Steele told Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith.

In the intervening century, the magazine helped define what it meant to be stylish in the hands of editors like the legendary Diana Vreeland and photographers like Richard Avedon.

In Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window," Harper's Bazaar was Grace Kelly's fashion mag of choice. Archie Bunker referred to it as "Harper's Brassiere," and the 1957 movie "Funny Face" is said to be based on the magazine itself.

"When you think about it, 'Funny Face' the movie was written about Richard Avedon and the film's 'Quality Magazine' was actually Harper's Bazaar. And there's many times in this office where I find myself thinking, 'Think pink,' because it's the color of next season," said Editor In Chief Glenda Bailey.

Bailey's willingness to run with an idea resulted in a cover with Julianne Moore wearing green (that color used to be taboo for covers), and a cover with a pregnant Britney Spears wearing next to nothing.

"A few people really are happy to be naked, and Britney is one of those people because she realized she looked very, very good," Bailey said. "And that's what Bazaar's about. We want to make people look good."

The heart of the modern Harper's Bazaar is the closet, which is packed with the clothes and shoes for upcoming issues.

"There's so many lovely things in here," editor Laura Browne said. "And we all sort of joke that the clothes have one of the greatest piece of Manhattan you'll ever see."

The clothes are laid out on the carpet and editors crawl around putting together the looks that women will soon be lusting after.

Actually, it has been said that the hemlines are an indicator of good or bad times to come.

"My prediction is that the hemlines are going to be above the knee - on the knee and above the knee - for a while," Bailey said. "Because things are looking up. But then as we see interest rates fall, I think by next fall we're going to see [hemlines] much lower."

So is she the Alan Greenspan of fashion?

"I am indeed!"

And in a world where getting old is as dreaded as white after Labor Day, Harper's Bazaar is wearing its 140 years with style.
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