Harper’s Bazaar Cover featuring Lauren Bacall, March 1943


Fig. 8, Michelle Phan, (1943), http://michellephan.com/5-favorites-iconic-vintage-magazine-covers/ [ONLINE]. Available at: http://michellephan.com/5-favorites-iconic-vintage-magazine-covers/ [Accessed 16 March 15].

Extract from a thesis written by Sofia Arvanius for her final year studying for a BA in Visual Communication titled How has the image of women changed over time in the fashion magazine industry in America, looking specifically at the covers of the US magazine, Vogue, between the years of its first publication in 1892 until the present day?

According to Michelle Phans article ‘5 Favorites: Iconic Vintage Magazine Covers’, the Harper’s Bazaar cover in figure 8 of 18-year-old Lauren Bacall from March 1943 makes the list. The film noir style of the photograph is interesting considering that Bacall became a successful actress in Hollywood known for her deep, husky voice that she was trained to do. Shot by famed Harper’s Bazaar photographer Louise Dahl-Wolfe, one of the few female photographers of the time, this cover shows a young woman outside the door of the American Red Cross Blood Donation clinic. The lady looks to be either leaving the Red Cross blood donor room or waiting to go inside. She is chicly dressed in an elegant navy suit, white blouse, gloves, a cloche hat with long waves in her hair holding a red bag and matching lipstick. (Phans, 2014) According to David Thompson it was Diana Vreeland, who worked for both Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, who discovered Lauren Bacall and placed her on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. (Thompson, 2009)

In the article ‘Revisiting Lauren Bacall in Bazaar’, Patalay talks about how the cover was taken in 1943, just over seventy years ago, and focuses its attention on World War II, when life in America was tough with a tight economy, rationing and loved ones fighting for their country. (National WWII Museum) The expression on Bacall’s face is nonchalant with a suggestion that she attends the blood donation clinic on a regular basis. Patalay also notes the sombre patriotism of the front line. (Patalay, 2014) The cover was published at the height of World War II, when women had been left at home after their male counterparts were sent abroad to fight. With an uncertainty in the air of the time, the cover of this Harper’s Bazaar magazine shows an image of the woman who is determined to do her part to contribute even though she may be apprehensive about the future. (Patalay, 2014) The cover in fig. 8 has a strong message. Women are doing whatever they can to help the soldiers who are fighting in the war. The image of the woman in this cover shows the power that women have gained in society. She is no longer the delicate creature surrounded by flowers as seen in previous covers, but a responsible individual with the ability to do her bit to help if she chooses. This cover is holding a mirror up to the reader. They are relating to women who have entered the workforce for the first time and the women who became wartime brides when they married their soldier. These women were left to keep everything running at home with just an occasional letter from a loved one to lament over. (Patalay, 2014)

Patalay, A. (2014). Revisiting Lauren Bacall in Bazaar. Available: http://www.harpersbazaar.co.uk/culture-news/news/revisiting-lauren-bacall-in-bazaar. Last accessed 17 March 2015

Thompson, D. (2009). “Lauren Bacall: The Souring of a Hollywood Legend. Available: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/lauren-bacall-the-souring-of-a-hollywood-legend-6161923.html. Last accessed 16 March 2015.


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