Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Legacy of Liz Tilberis

The nineties were a magical period. I was attending University, taking classes in Sports Science and had moved out on my own into a tiny studio apartment in the inner-city suburb of Kings Cross in Sydney. As a struggling uni student, every month I would inevitably be found scrounging together what ever spare change I could find after having paid bills, to purchase my beloved fashion magazines. I'll admit that there were times when I would forfeit eating in order to get my fashion and model fix. I had always been a devout follower of American Vogue, however in 1992 when the American edition of Harpers Bazaar was relaunched with former British Vogue Editor-in-Chief Liz Tilberis at the helm, my allegiance shifted.

Tribute to Liz Tiberis by Karl Lagerfeld
US Harpers Bazaar - July 1999
Source - readysetfashion.com

The September 1992 issue marked the relaunch of Harpers Bazaar with supermodel Linda Evangelista appearing on the cover accompanied by the tag-line "Enter the Era of Elegance." It was these very words which would underpin the Harpers Bazaar aesthetic throughout Tilberis' seven year tenure as Editor-in-Chief. Each month, I would eagerly anticipate the arrival of the latest air freight issue of Harpers because I knew that no matter what, I would be greeted with beautiful, whimsical imagery accompanied by the most pristine covers imaginable featuring - you guessed it, supermodels. Tilberis revitalised Harpers Bazaar's gloss by insisting on the best possible in art direction and photography, and by assembling a strong creative team which included photographers Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh, David Sims, Mario Sorrenti and Mikael Jansson. Rather than seeking to emulate the commercial, brassy image of Vogue, Tilberis set about creating more subtle, refined publication with fantasy, humour and understated glamour as its corner stone.

Linda Evangelista
US Harpers Bazaar - September 1992
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Christy Turlington
US Harpers Bazaar - November 1993
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Nadja Auermann
US Harpers Bazaar - April 1993
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Kate Moss
US Harpers Bazaar - December 1992
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Nadja Auermann & Cecilia Chancellor
US Harpers Bazaar - March 1993
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Amber Vallettta
US Harpers Bazaar - June 1993
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Linda Evangelista
US Harpers Bazaar - February 1994
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Naomi Campbell
US Harpers Bazaar - June 1994
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

In December 1993, Hearst publications ran a two page congratulatory ad in the New York Times in acknowledgement of Tilberis' role in enabling Harpers Bazaar to regain its former standing as one of the world's pre-eminent fashion publications. By this stage, Tilberis had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and in spite of intensive chemotherapy treatments, continued to devote her energies in her role as Editor-in-Chief. In 1999, Tilberis lost her battle with ovarian cancer and in the days before her passing, remained steadfast in her devotion, checking layouts and approving copy for future issues. 

In Harpers Bazaar's June 1999 Tribute Issue, Tilberis' staff pay tribute with personal anecdotes in the Staff Letter; "Liz Tilberis single-handedly made bitchiness unfashionable in the fashion business. Loyalty was her currency. Liz wasn't the sort of boss you were relieved to have out of town; when she was away from the office we missed her energy. Our hallway was her runway and she worked it every day. Liz always had a smile and a kind work for everyone. She made us all feel special." 

I remember upon learning of Tilberis' death, feeling a numb, lingering sadness. Numb, perhaps because I didn't know Tilberis personally, and lingering, because for seven years her whimsical vision of fashion and beauty had become a daily part of the fabric of my own life. I still have every issue of Harpers Bazaar in my possession from Liz Tilberis' reign as Editor-in-Chief and share the following images in remembrance and celebration of her talents as well as her kindness, humanity and zest for life.

Christy Turlington
US Harpers Bazaar - July 1999
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Nadja Auermann & Alexandre Bougault
US Harpers Bazaar - March 1994
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Naomi Campbell
US Harpers Bazaar - Unknown
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - thefashionspot.com

Kate Moss & Naomi Campbell
US Harpers Bazaar - May 1998
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Yasmeen Ghauri
US Harpers Bazaar - May 1999
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Christy Turlington
US Harpers Bazaar - January 1994
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Helena Christensen
US Harpers Bazaar - May 1993
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Amber Valletta
US Harpers Bazaar - April 1994
Photographer - Peter Lindbergh
Source - thefashionspot.com

Linda Evangelista
US Harper Bazaar - November 1996
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Anja Kneller
US Harper Bazaar - November 1992
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Shalom Harlow
US Harper Bazaar - September 1995
Photographer - Mario Testino
Source - thefashionspot.com

Nadja Auermann
US Harpers Bazaar - March 1994
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Kiara Kabukura
US Harper Bazaar - Unknown
Photographer - Patrick Demarchelier
Source - thefashionspot.com

Bridget Hall
US Harper Bazaar - July 1998
Photographer - Mikael Jansson
Source - thefashionspot.com

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