On September 12, 2001, Glenda Bailey, the new editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar had a meeting with Hearst executives to present her vision for the magazine. “It was all devastating and terribly, terribly sad,” Bailey said, about the timing. “The world changed, and we were then presented with the problem: how do you make a fashion magazine relevant under those circumstances?”
What came out of that meeting was that “life is precious; life is short,” said Bailey, “and creating a magazine that makes people feel great” played an important role. “We could have a party that everyone could come to.”
Bailey, who has been at the magazine’s helm for 10 years, spoke on September 7 to mark the opening of a new exhibit at the International Center of Photography, “Harper’s Bazaar: A Decade of Style.” On display are nearly 30 images by an iconic group of photographers including Peter Lindbergh, Jean-Paul Goude, David Bailey, William Klein, Patrick Demarchelier, Terry Richardson, Camilla Akrans, Sølve Sundsbø, Mark Seliger, Tim Walker, Mario Sorrenti, and Karl Lagerfeld. In addition, photographers who are not usually associated with fashion—Nan Goldin, Ralph Gibson, and Chuck Close—are represented in the show, along with two photographers who have a long, legendary history at Bazaar, Hiro and Melvin Sokolsky.
“We have been fortunate enough to work with the world’s best photographers, stylists, models, and celebrities,” Bailey said. “It’s both timely and timeless.” The exhibit includes images of models Naomi Campbell, seeming to harness a large crocodile, and Stephanie Seymour, as a Warhol superstar. Jennifer Aniston channels Barbra Streisand, while Lady Gaga is very much herself.
“Fashion reflects what’s going on in our world, and Bazaar makes pop culture fashionable,” said Bailey. “This exhibition is the culmination of a decade in a new world where every popular phenomenon comes with a fashion spin.”
Included are actual pages from the magazine, showing how fashion layouts can also tell a story. Ellen DeGeneres is cast as a successful presidential candidate (shades of Hillary), while Chloe Sevigny plays the role of a celebrity about to enter rehab being stalked by paparazzi.
Kate Winslet seems to be floating above the New York City skyline, clinging to nearby scaffolding that was actually very close to the ground. “Kate did not have to risk life and limb,” Bailey said.
Harper’s Bazaar: A Decade of Style
Through January 8, 2012
International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street
An accompanying book, Harper’s Bazaar: Greatest Hits is available in the ICP store and online at www.icp.org/store.