May 18, 2022

go health

13 Models, Designers, and Editors on the Legacy of Grace Mirabella

Lisa Taylor, Vogue, May 1975, photographed by Helmut Newton. 

Phyllis Posnick, editor

When Grace met Dr. William Cahan, a leading anti-smoking crusader, in the early 1970s, he offered her $1,000 to give up her two-pack-a-day habit for a year. She not only collected on the bet, she married him. These two events signaled the beginning of her commitment to women’s health and fitness and beauty. Much has been said about Grace “giving Vogue back to real women,” with her down-to-earth, minimal approach to fashion. She did more. She added to the coverage of the arts and social issues, and made beauty, health, and fitness essential parts of this “real” woman’s life. Her Vogue was the first fashion magazine to make fitness chic. She made it sexy to be healthy. Grace was more adventurous than she is given credit for. A 1975 fragrance shoot, “The Story of Ohhh,” was provocative, sexy, and scandalous for the time. And Grace loved it!

Ralph Lauren, designer

At a time when women were becoming liberated in their views of who they were, Grace Mirabella took over American Vogue and redefined it and American fashion to relate to that modern woman—how she lived and how she dressed. Grace was always a great champion of American designers. Luckily for me, my first women’s collection was launched just as she began her remarkable editorship. Grace understood my belief that women wanted to wear clothes that had the comfort of menswear—tailored shirts, pleated pants, gray flannels, even tuxedos, but created authentically just for them. Grace loved fashion, but a kind of fashion that empowered women to be themselves in as many roles as they chose.

Bethann Hardison, model

When the women’s movement was taking hold, Vogue was properly on time with its new editor in chief. As a person, Ms. Mirabella was elegant and kind. She always made me feel important, called me by my first name. My admiration for her continued long after her moment at Vogue. She believed in what she still had to say as an editor, and went to Mirabella, her namesake magazine. What a wonderful legacy she left behind.

Beverly Johnson, model

One of the most touching and memorable moments with Grace was when she reached out to me through a friend. This was only a few years ago. I listened as she told me how wonderful it was to have worked with me. I said, “Grace, I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for you. I am the one who is honored. You are a role model to so many.” I was so moved. She was always giving, kind, and sincere—and never more so than during our last conversation. I will never forget her.