SCANNING | Fleur Cowles and Flair Magazine

Fleur Cowles | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith
Fleur Cowles | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith


Before there was Domino, before there was Sassy… there was Flair. Yes, the unequivocal mother of all cult publications doomed to fail before it’s time: Flair Magazine was created by Fleur Cowles in 1950, and ran for only 12 months of publication. Known for it’s lavish die-cut covers and artwork, the magazine would ultimately fail underneath it’s own heavy cost of production. In the 60-odd years since, Flair (and Fleur) have become icons of creative and uncompromised magazine publishing. Spanning the realms of art, literature, high society and fashion, Flair boasts a serious list of contributors including W.H. Auden, Tennessee Williams, Gypsy Rose Lee, Simone de Beauvoir, Dali, and Jean Cocteau. As a self-professed magazine junkie, I can tell you that I am way, way in to this. These days just one issue of Flair goes for around $45 on eBay. But there are other, less musty routes to the contents of Flair. For only $1,020 you can buy the 1996 Best of Flair box set on Amazon. And since the nearby University of Texas Harry Ransom Center has an entire symposium dedicated to Fleur (who knew?!), I’m willing to bet that they may have some more budget-friendly resources worth exploring… In the meantime, I can’t wait to get my hands on She Made Friends and Kept Them, Fleur’s memoir of what she called a lifetime of “friend-gathering”. In addition to her creativity, Fleur was known for her tendency to befriend the rich-and-famous, her colorful outfits and trademark horn-rimmed glasses.

Oddly, I wasn’t able to find a good image of all twelve covers of Flair anywhere online. I took some time and did a little research… So here they are, all twelve covers of Flair, in order of publication:

Flair Magazine | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith


* image of horn-rimmed glasses from Attic Eye Wear Vintage

6 Responses to “SCANNING | Fleur Cowles and Flair Magazine

  1. Diane Smith

    Fantastic job researching the covers. They are true
    works of art. My favorites are May, with the roses and
    of course, December. What an interesting topic.

  2. Bonneville

    Dear Jennifer,

    Hello. You wouldn’t, by any chance, have access to
    the Flair Paris Issue, No.3 (April 1950).

    I am looking for a text called ‘It’s About Time’ (pp. 76-77) written by Simone de Beauvoir and hoping someone could eventually send me the text.

    Thank you and all the best!

    • Jennifer Rose Smith

      Unfortunately I don’t, Bonneville! Sounds like you are on an interesting quest…

  3. Bonneville

    I guess I’ll have save some dollars and buy the ‘Best of Flair’. Thank you!

  4. Sam

    Hello. I have a full set of Flair. I could take a digital photo of the article and email it to you if you are still looking for it.

  5. Carole

    How much is a complete set of all 12 issues worth (not boxed)?


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