From the 1930s through the ’60s, Carmel Snow, Alexey Brodovitch and Diana Vreeland worked with era-defining giants like Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Man Ray on features that took the building blocks of fashion — shape, silhouette — and transformed them into ideas and emotions, caught in a moment so powerfully that many of those images now reside in an assortment of museums.
Then, after two decades in the wilderness (or, really, supermarket checkout counters, which is where the focus went under Anthony Mazzola in the ’70s), the magazine returned to its glory in the ’90s under Liz Tilberis, who won ASME awards (the magazine world’s Oscars) for design and photography in 1993. They were the last such prizes the magazine would win.
“David Sims, Inez and Vinoodh, Craig McDean, Mario Testino, Juergen Teller, Terry Richardson, Steven Klein, all these photographers were at Bazaar first,” Fabien Baron, the magazine’s creative director under Ms. Tilberis, said in an interview on Thursday. (Many of the highlights from that era can be found in Fabien Baron: Works 1983-2019, a brick-size coffee-table book released this fall.)
Ms. Tilberis died of cancer in 1999 and was replaced for a tumultuous two years by Kate Betts; in 2001, Ms. Bailey took over, moving from inside Hearst, where she had served as the editor of Marie Claire, the company’s upper-middle-class alternative to Cosmopolitan. Ms. Bailey restored the famous logo that had been jettisoned by Ms. Betts. She also brought back Hiro, whose phosphorescent beauty shoots for the magazine under both Ms. Tilberis and Ms. Vreeland had been among the magazine’s high water marks.
But Ms. Bailey’s desire to make the pages more and more consumable, more service-driven, gradually altered the expectations and understanding of what photography in a high-end magazine needed (or didn’t need) to be.
It could even be an ad: Ms. Bailey ran Madonna on the cover of her September 2003 issue, with pictures that came from a new Gap campaign. Even by the ordinary standards of glossy magazines (where the relationship between editorial and commercial is increasingly porous), that was pretty brazen.