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The Best of Flair 1st Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0847822294
ISBN-10: 084782229X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cowles can boast of having known Everyone Who Was Anyone for the past 50 years, and she does. She lists in the index in this memoir more than 1000 of them, but only a few receive more than an obligatory paragraph no more exciting than a listing in Who's Who. And those who get fuller treatment are seen through a prism of banality and self-congratulation: she and the Queen Mother exchange hospitalities; Marilyn Monroe is a guest; Clare Booth Luce selects her to be "ambassador" at the coronation of Elizabeth II; she is in Africa on the very day and near the spot where Hemingway's plane was downed. Present at the signing of the Korean War armistice, she is cold though warmly dressed, and the landscape reminds her of a Braque painting. The trivia of her anecdotes are at odds with her once-flamboyant image when, as the former wife of Gardner Cowles, whose media empire included Look magazine, she parlayed his wealth and influence and her own ambition and talent into a career as editor, writer and painter, which provided entree into the social, artistic and political circles of the time. With his backing, she produced a spectacular magazine called Flair, which had a year's run in 1951 then folded. Now remarried, she has been living in England, where she paints, renovates old mansions, jets around the world and socializes with important people, as well as some "plain but interesting" ones.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“This newly affordable archive features greatest hits from one of the most groundbreaking (and short-lived) fashion magazines of all time. It’s about a close as you can come as giving the gift of time travel — at least, for the ultimate fashion nerd." –New York Magazine

“If you have only heard of but never experienced the pleasure of perusing Flair then you are in for one of the greatest reading experiences…This epic volume is a love letter to all who love reading magazines and still long for the meatiness and richness of the content of yesteryear. As if the extremely intelligent and varied subject matter was not enough to mesmerize the reader, there is the element of presentation that catapults Flair into rarefied territory that has never since been explored and will probably never ever even be dreamt of today. There are not enough superlatives to offer when speaking of this book so if you have esthetic leanings or interest in almost any cultural aspect of life, then, this book is essential to all those who consider themselves cultivated and sophisticated. For once, this reviewer was not only wildly impressed but actually rendered slack jawed and speechless.” –New York Journal of Books

"...a remarkable incarnation of Flair's greatest hits..." –Women’s Wear Daily

The Best of Flair…re-creates the interactive magazine the best it can without scent strips.” –Vanity Fair

“…a re-edition of The Best of Flair, a heavy volume, which, much like the magazine version, features the die-cut covers, the booklets, the colorful illustrations and the interviews and essays of many boldfaced names from the worlds of art, fashion, literature and society.” –Forbes.com

Must-Have Coffee Table Book. In 1950, editor Fleur Cowles founded Flair magazine, a sumptuous publication that combined fanciful editorial content with contributions by cultural giants like Salvador Dalí, Ogden Nash, and Lucian Freud. This month Rizzoli reissues a book of the magazine's most memorable pages, complete with vibrant die-cut gatefolds and encased in a stylish scarlet box.” –Harpers Bazaar

"Fleur Cowles, artist and visionary, published Flair magazine in the fifties, and devotées covet and collect these precious few issues. The ideas on each page are original, to this day. They also portray a cultural decade, an insider look at writers and artists like Lucian Freud and Truman Capote who were emerging at that time. Along with its distinctive design elements—die-cut covers, special papers, embossing, bound-in booklets—The Best of Flair also features interviews and contributions from provocative and noted artists and celebrities of the past fifty years, including the ultra- ubiquitous Jean Cocteau, Tallulah Bankhead, Saul Steinberg, Salvador Dalí…You might say it was everyone who was anyone.” –The Style Saloniste
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli; 1st edition (November 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 084782229X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847822294
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 2.5 x 17.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,780,424 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
These facsimile pages from the twelve issues of Flair are a celebration of Fleur Cowles zest for creativity in the arts. The 338 pages must have been a challenge for the Hong Kong printers, they had to cope with various foldout pages, die-cut holes, different paper stock and bind in several short pages, two concertina foldouts and five sixteen page booklets.

Sumptuous though the book is I feel that Flair is resting in its reputation. To my mind, having worked as a publication art director, the photos, typography and layouts are very conservative and do not show any particular innovative design. Other magazines and designers were much more creative in the fifties, 'Fortune' with Will Burtin, 'Glamour' with Cipe Pineless, 'Harper's Bazaar' with Alexey Brodovitch and 'Vogue' with Alexander Liberman. Certainly the covers with their die-cut holes (sadly only six of the twelve are included) and the bound in booklets were unique to consumer magazines at the time but I think that Flair should be remembered as a magazine concept rather than a magazine full of creativity.

Fleur Cowles writes a short piece about the origins of Flair (handwritten in gold on dark blue paper) but does not give enough detail (I believe each issue involved several printers and binders) and as there were only twelve issues a list of all the articles should have been included. Another reviewer has commented that the high price (reassuringly expensive?) and the cloth covered box the book comes in reflects snob appeal, I agree but I'm still pleased to have a copy.

***SEE SOME OF THE BOUND IN INSERTS AND OTHER GOODIES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the most extraordinary book I've ever owned! I missed out when it was first published as a limited edition and I vowed that if it ever came back,I would grab one. Bravo to Rizzoli Publishers for re-issuing this hard-to-find classic!
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Format: Hardcover
I first became acquainted with Fleur Cowles' revolutionary 'Flair' magazine during my childhood in the fifties. At that time the publication impressed me with its cultured blend of cosmopolitan sophistication and innovative design, although it didn't escape me that its pages also included a great deal of elitism, snobbery and self-congratulatory arrogance. Although I wasn't fortunate to keep any of the original issues, the magazine became a significant influence in the development of my literary and artistic tastes and in my life-long quest for beauty and elegance. For that I was grateful. So it was a joy to learn that a best-of compilation put together by Fleur Cowles herself had finally appeared. The original 1996 printing sold out before I could manage to acquire a copy and when Rizzoli recently published a second run I quickly got one. This edition has a foreword by writer-socialite Dominick Dunne. Now, is it really worth the rather steep price of [price]? Well... I think that for that kind of money the publishers could have managed to provide us with something much more substantial, for example: a slipcased set containing facsimile editions of all twelve original issues, rather than this comprehensive but ultimately limited look. A complete reprint would have given us the full impression of the range and period feel of a unique magazine, and at this price I think that they could have well afforded to do it. I understand that part of the reason for this expensive price tag is the snob appeal that has always been a part of the Flair mystique and that perhaps this offering is to be regarded as literary caviar for the more discerning (and well-off) among us.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Get this book. Do anything you have to in order to own it. I paid $250 at the Art Institute of Chicago because I was afraid I would miss out...again. This is a collector's piece if you got the first edition. If not, don't hesitate. It is interesting, intriging, thought provoking, ahead of it's time....and not just for 'creative' types. Something good for everyone.
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By Floradora on September 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is absolutely brilliant - it gathers together the best of the short lived Flair magazine produced by Fleur Cowles in 1950-51. The magazine was unable to continue because of the expense of production and you can see why as many of the paper engineering and inserts that the original magazine had are reproduced in this book.

The calibre of the contributors too is quite extraordinary.

Apparently there were not many copies of this book published either and I am soooo thrilled to have been able to get my own copy before they too, like the magazine, become almost unavailable.
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