“Harper’s Bazaar” was founded in 1867 as “Harper’s Bazar” (with only one A) and was the first magazine of its kind. As you already can see on the cover the mission was clear: “A repository of fashion. Pleasure and Instruction.”
The layout changed throughout the decades and somewhere in the late 1920ies or the very early 1930ies the second A appeared in the magazine’s name.
A New Face
In 1934 a young Russian by the name of Alexey Brodovitch was appointed the new art director. When he joined the company the “Harper’s Bazaar” was already a household name.
When a product is already known it is always a big risk to change the appearance since people could not recognize it anymore or – even worse – you lose your regular customers. Let’s see how Brodovitch dealt with this challenge:
Decluttering the Layout
There are some remarkable measures that made the entire magazine layout less busy and more generous looking. This was so unusual that the layouts became iconic.
- A new, very sharp font was created for cover. It is the same font Harper’s Bazaar uses to this day. For the sake of perfection it was amended for a certain edition but the style was still the same.
- Brodovitch hired some of the best photographers for his covers
- The title was put as closed to the edge as only possible. This way he gained more room for the cover photo
- He reduced the amount of colours drastically and only worked with highlighters or he cropped the motive and put it on a white background.
Brodovitch was the first one to use both pages for the layouts which made each of them attractive and unique as you can see on the image below.
Why Did It Work?
Personally, I believe that two main ingredients made this idea such a hit:
- Brodovitch was aware of his responsibility and knew of the value of the magazine. On the cover of the edition of October 1947 the name “Harper’s” is in ancient looking lettes that remind of a glamourous past
- He was bold enough to do something really innovative of top quality
If ever I should have such a flash of inspiration I’ll share it with you. I wish you an inspiring week.