New book ‘1950s in Vogue’ pays tribute to Jessica Daves, editor-in-chief of the magazine from 1952 to 1962


Who was Jessica Daves? Alberto Oliva and Norberto Angeletti, authors of a story of Vogue, describe her as a “conservative, radical marketing columnist,” while fashion journalist Eugenia Sheppard describes her as “a down-to-earth writer and a great leader.” Born in 1898 in Cartersville, Georgia, Daves moved to New York City in 1921, where she worked in advertising before being chosen by Condé Nast to join Vogue as fashion merchandising editor. She quickly rose through the ranks and was Chase’s chosen successor. In 1959 Daves was awarded the French Legion of Honor and she was also honored with the Italian Order of Merit.

That fashion business was of great interest to Daves did not prevent him from profiting from the profession. “Here is something you need in the world, beautiful creative work,” she once said. “Of course, not all creations are first-rate, but the simple fact of being in the presence of so much original art makes fashion a vital force! But she was by no means fancy, nor did she fit the publisher’s stereotype as the glamorous diva that was portrayed in Funny head.

This is how the The Vancouver News Herald, to which she gave the above quote, described it in 1957, the year of the film’s release: “Jessica Daves, Voguethe editor-in-chief of, is a woman who speaks well, who reads well and who seems rather motherly. In fact, she is the antithesis of what one might imagine to be a fashion editor. She’s comfortable and smart. One could add stable and knowledgeable qualities that served the magazine’s readers in a time of great post-war expansion. Daves contextualized fashion among advancements in technology, design and art and his magazine was didactic, as Mirabella’s later would be. The two women aimed to help readers navigate rapidly changing fashion landscapes.

Model Evelyn Tripp wearing Mainbocher’s magenta chiffon evening coat and pink faille gown, pictured for the June 1, 1953 issue of Vogue.Photo: Richard Rutledge / Condé Nast via Getty Images

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