Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Who? - Edna Woolman Chase

This is a quote from Edna Woolman Chase and something she strongly believed. Another thing she used to say was "If we must err let us err on the side of understatement". She was a women of strong convictions and would often come across as old-fashioned and a bit stuffy.

Edna Woolman Chase was born in 1877 in Asbury Park, NJ and moved to New York as a young woman. She started in the Vogue mailroom in 1895 at the age of 18 and then proceeded to make a lasting impression on Vogue.

Edna as a young lady
In 1914 Edna was made the assistant editor of Vogue by Nast. Nast in later years in a memo wrote "Edna, we have been a great team. I believe I have been a wide-awake intelligent publisher, but I am the first to admit to myself and to acknowledge to the world that without you I could never have built Vogue. We have built this property together." Chase, Nast and Vogue during the onset of WWI decided to keep fashion alive in the US by creating the first ever New York Fashion Show - "Fashion Fete". The war had disrupted communication between Paris and the US and Chase saw an opportunity for Vogue. It was agreed that any proceeds from the show be donated to the Committee of Mercy To Aid Women And Orphans of the Allied Nations.  This gained the support of the ladies of New York society and the success of the show which resulted in the continued success of Vogue. It was partially due to this fashion show that Vogue survived two world wars and the Great Depression.

Chase is often given credit for why Vogue went from a small weekly newspaper to the haute coutre magazine of today. She was pivotal in 1916 for sewing patterns becoming available in department stores so that every US woman could look as chic as American socialites. Edna was a perfectionist and her goal was to be the high-society authority on matters of style and elegance. In 1929 she became the editor-in-chief of all Vogue editions and she kept her position on the top of the ladder at Vogue magazine until 1952 when she retired at the age of 75.

At work in the later years

Edna Woolman Chase was one of the original founders of the Fashion Group International in the 1930's, their main goal was to promote fashion trends, fashion education and business. During WWII she helped to redesign uniforms for women in the miltary. She had a long and influential career in the world of fashion which she documented in her autobiography "Always in Vogue" at the age of 77 which she coauthored with her actress daughter Ilka. Edna died of a heart attack in Florida at the age of 80 in 1957.

"Fashion is general; style is individual and has little to do with class." Edna Woolman Chase

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