Fleur Cowles (editor).
Cowles Magazines. [New York]. February 1950 - January 1951. 12 issues. Illustrated wrappers. Illustrated profusely throughout. 332 x 248mm. 5kg. . Very good; some light wear and soiling to wrappers, some wear to spines, with some slight loss on a couple of issues, binding just beginning to crack on a couple of issues, a small 1cm mark to cover of February and June; an unusually well-preserved set with all inserts present and no tears to cover die-cuts.
'a fancy bouillabaisse of Vogue, Town & Country, Holiday, etc.', so quipped Time Magazine discussing the launch of Fleur Cowles' extravagant and innovative Flair magazine. It was the brainchild of Cowles, who wished to create a journal with 'flair'. One that covered the best of fashion, décor, travel, art, literature, humour and entertainment, and featured the words and images of the best twentieth century writers and artists. The first issue of the magazine appeared in 1950. It was published by Cowles' husband, Gardner Cowles, and his brother John, but the editoral control rested with Fleur. She insisted on the finest production values and each issue featured cut-outs, fold-outs, inserts, different paper stock and lots of colour. Art direction was by Louis-Marie Eude & then Hershel Bramson. Cowles persuaded writers such as W. H. Auden, Jean Cocteau, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, Jean Genet, Gypsy Rose Lee, Eleanor Roosevelt, Angus Wilson, George Berndard Shaw, Tallulah Bankhead, Tennessee Williams, Jean Cocteau, Clare Boothe Luce, Beverley Nichols, and Elizabeth Bowen to provide text and artistic contributions came from the likes of Dali, George Hoyningen-Huene, Lucian Freud, Rene Gruau, Walker Evans, Saul Steinberg, Alexander Calder, Barbara Jones and Winston Churchill. There were issues dedicated to Paris, New York, Christmas, Colleges, and even one devoted to Roses, infused with the scent of the flower. All this cost money, circulation did not rise above 200,000 and each issue was losing Fleur and her husband funds. After the twelth issue in January 1951 the magazine closed. The magazine was short-lived but it's reputation as one of the boldest and innovative periodicals of the twentieth-century lives on and it remains the gold standard for luxury magazine production. The fragile nature of the magazine with it's various cut-outs and inserts means that complete sets are hard-to-find.