A Rose is A Rose

Fleur Cowles, 101, died this Friday in Sussex, England. The author of a star-studded 1996 memoir, She Made Friends and Kept Them, she was perhaps most famous for her editorial role in Flair magazine of 1951, a ground-breaking if short-lived publication focusing on the art, fashion, travel, and literature that informed Ms. Cowles' passionate life.

     08cowles650.jpg                                                                   Jonathan Player, New York Times

She was the force of nature behind the creative vision of Flair, after having been an editor of Look, one of the most popular magazines of the time. With paper cut-outs, fold-out sections, even invisible ink, Flair, although unable to accumulate enough profit to sustain itself, was widely praised for the sheer inventiveness of its design and its idiosyncratic, luxurious scope.

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In her turn, Fleur embodied similar qualities: hers was a life marked by a questing and fearless spirit, even as she revolved in elite and wealthy circles. Her career as a journalist brought her into contact with powerful world leaders, royalty, and religious figures, and few of her contemporaries could claim to be as well-connected. Her celebrated paintings are noteworthy for their magical realism, and she also completed several biographies, including one of Salvador Dali. Her signature was the rose--Flair devoted a spring issue to the concept, including scent, and she was often seen wearing or holding a rose.

In 1949, she said, 'I've worked hard, and I've made a fortune, and I did it in a man's world, but always, ruthlessly, and with a kind of cruel insistence, I have tried to keep feminine.' Classy, powerful, and true to her own vision--now that's our kind of lady!

You can find out more about her fascinating life from the NYT, check out this 1949 interview , and order a copy of her memoir here.

-Devan Photo courtesy New York Times, lead via New York Times.

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