I first found out about Mademoiselle magazine through a book on Cipe Pineless. Apart from having a lovely name, she was a great graphic designer and broke the ground for women on women’s magazines. There aren’t too many books on mid-century women designers, a few on fashion, but graphics? No. So I started browsing on eBay to see if I could spot any copies of Mademoiselle from her reign as art director there, from 1959.
Instead, I found what I think is one of my all time favourite magazine covers. January 1952. The art director at that time was Bradbury Thompson. Thompson was equally awesome and along with Pineless and Alexy Brodovitch at Harpers, one of the best magazine designers, like, ever.
Mademoiselle was aimed at the new working girl (like Glamour magazine and particularly Charm) post-war, emancipated and newly worrying about how to conduct and dress herself in the workplace. All well before the Mad Men years.
What a lovely piece of self-referential design this cover is. Minimum text, minimal colour palette and maximum design. I’m not good at identifying typefaces but I know a nice one when I see it. And the typeface for this title bespeaks modernity. I like the fact that (pre-Photoshop) the model stands in front of a huge-blow up from a Victorian fashion plate. ‘Against her 1850s prototype, a 1952 model’ as they write. Can I just say I love blown-up images. Particularly nice here is the fashion parallel of tiny waists on both outfits. The ‘New Look’ that wasn’t.
All in all it’s a bit of graphic theatre, combined with fashion photography and sharp typography. This would still zing from a shelf in the newsagents. It makes me very happy.
N.B. I have been reliably informed (see comments) that the Mademoiselle magazine font is News Gothic Condensed.