Carrie Donovan

Read André Leon Talley's tribute to Carrie at Editorial:

Reflections on Carrie Donovan (posted November 14th, 2001)

Let me preface this by saying, that if it weren't for Carrie Donovan, I would not have become a fashion editor. Yes, I had always wanted to be a fashion editor, and right after graduation from college, I immediately found myself a job as an assistant editor at Seventeen Magazine, jumping ship within one year to Harper's Bazaar in 1971, where I became an assistant to Ray Crespin- arguably one of the most creative editors at the time. But being an assistant started to 'wear thin', and I was becoming impatient- even questioning if that was, in fact, what I wanted to do. And in those years, becoming a 'full fledged' editor seemed to be an awesome achievement, a 'rite of passage'…and something that was almost unattainable.
   When James Brady, who had been editor in chief of Harper's Bazaar at the time, was abruptly fired in 1972, and replaced by Anthony Mazzola, he hired Carrie Donovan as Senior Fashion Editor, and the housecleaning soon began. Within a very short time, all the senior fashion editors were fired, or left, (including my 'boss' at the time). Carrie, who was known for discovering and nurturing young talent, saw that I had 'something', took an interest in me, and started to give me assorted 'assignments'. Within a very short period of time, I really flourished, discovered I loved what I was doing, and soon found myself listed on the masthead as a 'fashion editor'.
   I have many 'Carrie' memories: her well documented mannerisms and expressions, and of course, her unforgettable 'look', which at that time was 'all about' Halston, who was a good friend. She was always swathed in his incredibly chic cashmeres, accessorized with bold Elsa Peretti jewelry, slouchy Bobby Breslau hobo bags, her signature pearls, and turban.
    And Joe Eula, the famed illustrator, who was responsible for many of Halston's prints, was a good friend of Carrie's, and was a constant visitor to Bazaar, 'sharing' an office with me. I felt quite honored, and lucky- not only was Joe talented, he was funny and totally irreverent…he would often answer my telephone, like a secretary, and then tell whomever was on the line (be it friend or business associate): "no, Marilyn said she doesn't want to talk to you", and abruptly hang up. Of course, this could have conceivably gotten me in a lot of 'trouble', but I would shriek with laughter..somehow, Joe could actually get away with this. But the best thing was that he would sketch me in his ebullient manner, while I was going about my office chores, or speaking on the phone…unfortunately, I don't know where these signed pieces are now - they would certainly qualify as 'collectors' items.
   But perhaps the most memorable experience that I can attribute to Carrie, occurred when Perry Ellis, the award-winning designer, who became a very good friend of hers, passed away in 1986, and she spoke at his memorial service. Held at the Ethical Culture Society on Central Park West, with a packed audience of many of fashion's biggest stars in attendance, Carrie recalled how she was 'introduced' to Perry by "a young fashion editor, Marilyn Kirschner", and went on to credit me with bringing him to her attention (and to the attention of the magazine). You see, Carrie was secure enough to 'share' the spotlight, and secure enough to give 'credit where credit is due'. I can still remember this as an 'out of body' experience, and one that made me very proud. It was a true testament to Carrie's gift of nurturing talent.

Carrie was a unique talent, an original, and will be truly missed.

-Marilyn Kirschner, editor-in-chief

  DFR: Daily Fashion Report