Women’s Wear Daily
04.19.2014

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August 4, 2008 10:22 AM

Eye, Fashion

Reeling in the Years

When was the last time you handled microfilm? I had the opportunity to several weeks ago, when I found myself knee deep in the house archives on a research mission. My task -- as it was explained to me...

When was the last time you handled microfilm?

I had the opportunity to several weeks ago, when I found myself knee deep in the house archives on a research mission. My task -- as it was explained to me by my editor in chief Edward Nardoza -- was to uncover the stories, images, and maybe an amusing fashion trend or two that time forgot, plucked from one of the tens of thousands of issues -- 98 years! -- of Women's Wear Daily.

My findings were to be the basis for a new standing feature on WWD.com called "Back in Time." So that's how I found myself reacquainted with the reel -- fumbling, really, with the red plastic spools that contain the paper's early years (before the advent of the bound volume, a not-much-more advanced medium for archival preservation). I scrolled through one reel, labeled "November 1966," and found WWD's coverage of Truman Capote's Black & White ball. Spanning two issues, the report included shots of boldfacers like Vanderbilt, Radziwill and Avedon, as well as a blink-and-you-missed-it-sized photo of the short-lived (here, masked) duo of Mia Farrow and Frank Sinatra. Fairchild et al created a five-star grading system for their critique of attendees' costumes, which they called "In Cold Blood -- The Ratings." Gloria Guinness fared the best, receiving four-and-a-half stars. Lee Radziwill -- two stars. Henry Fonda -- one star. I made a note to show the Eye desk what I found. Perhaps they could be persuaded to reinstate the tradition...

My archival wanderings also led me to uncover the numerous "face-lifts" that our paper's front page and logo have undergone over the years, a transformation that I'm illustrating in a slideshow for the first installment of "Back in Time." As one might imagine, WWD looks nothing like it did in June 1910, when it first appeared as an insert in the Daily Trade Record (now DNR), a single rose adorning its otherwise unfettered cover. Clicking through the slideshow, viewers will be able to glimpse not only the evolution of Women's Wear Daily, but the growth of the fashion industry as well.
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