Famous Cousins
Edna Woolman Chase-


"Born in Asbury Park, I was raised by my Quaker grandparents in a small New Jersey village, but my mother, Laura Woolman Martin, who was living in New York with her second husband, frequently came to visit us.
     My family name was Alloway, but before I was old enough to remember my father my parents were divorced and he drifted out of our lives.  when my mother married again I took my stepfather's name
." - from "Always in Vogue."
Edna Woolman Chase dies at 80; Retired Vogue Magazine Editor-
Fashion Leader for Many Years Wrote Autobiography in '54- Mother of Ilka Chase


Edna Woolman Chase, of 333 East Fifty-seventh Street, editor  emeritus of Vogue magazine, died early yesterday morning of a heart attack at Memorial Hospital, Sarasota, Fla.  She was 80 years old las Thursday and was the widow of Richard Newton, an engineer.

With Mrs. Chase at her death were her son-in-law and daughter, Dr. and Mrs. Norton Brown, with whom she had traveled South a few days ago on a holiday.  Mrs. Brown is known professionally as Ilka Chase, actress and writer.  Her father, Francis Dane Chase, was Mrs. Chase's first husband.  The marriage ended in divorce.

Mrs. Chase hardly seemed to have  a personal life.  She made her career almost her only happiness.  And in this career she helped to point out the trend of fashion for women of different incomes in this country.

As a "little widget, young, eager, ignorant," in her own memory, Mrs. Chase began this career in 1895 on Vogue, then a three-year-old weekly devoted to the doings of society in New York and Newport, R. I.  Her job was addressing envelopes in the circulation department.

-Name Known to Public

Working up through the art and make-up departments, she established herself in the editorial offices as Edna Woolman Chase, reporter of fashion.  Because she was known by this name to the public when Conde Nast bought the magazine in 1909, he asked her to retain it in spite of her divorce.  In 1911, he made her managing editor of the publication, which he then published every two weeks, and gave her complete control.

By 1914 Mrs. Chase was editor in chief.  The same year she made American fashion history by putting on the first fashion show.

Because of World War I, Paris dressmakers closed their workrooms and deprived American society women pictured in Vogue of their source of exclusive wardrobes.  Mrs. Chase called upon the leading custom shops in New York to create their own designs for presentation at a show under the sponsorship of Vogue and a group of society women.

The idea caught on, and local manufacturers were encouraged to produce their mass-production garments in more original styles and at moderate prices.  mrs. Chase also suggested that these manufacturers employ stylists to point out fashion trends.

She considered her magazine a fashion newspaper reporting fashion news as it happened.  More than one store owner criticized her for giving a new trend before the  owners were able to to clear the old-style wares from their shelves.

Because of the grace of their skirts, swept back into bustled fullness, Mrs. Chase considered Victorian styles her favorites.  One of her pet peeves was open-toed shoes.  She considered allure the most important quality of clothes.

"Women  seem to have forgotten that men are lured by mystery," she explained.  "There is not much thrill left for them in the styles of today."

A petite woman whose hair turned from brown to gray before she was 40, Mrs. Chase favored the lighter shades of blue for her own wardrobe.  Her eyes, as remembered by her associates were a sparkling brown.

Associates also recalled her firmness in decisions and her fairness in dealing with her staff.  They remember when she decided fashion photographs were too stylized and turned to drawings to bring out the subtlety of a new style.

Among the "firsts" in news for Vogue was the slowly rising hem line in the Nineteen Twenties.  Although Mrs. Chase considered that era the magazine's heyday, she was able successfully to present fashions more in tune with the lighter pocketbooks of depression years.  The theme of clothes then, as they appeared in Vogue, was "More taste than money."

-Wrote on Good Taste


"The combination of fine taste and sound judgement is what counts," she wrote.  "Taste may be a sort of instinct - good judgement is the flowering of sound thinking."

Her personal friends were her business associates.  So like one were her home and business life that she had her office decorated in the style of the drawing room in her apartment.

In World War II, Mrs. Chase served on a Government committee assigned to give more grace to the uniforms of women in the armed forces.  She received the medal of Legion of Honor from France in 1935.  In 1954, her autobiography, which her daughter helped her to write, appeared under the title of "Always in Vogue."

Although retired then for two years, Mrs. Chase was named by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies as one of its "Key Women of the Year."
Edna WoolmanChase's obituary, as it appeared in the New York Times, March 21, 1957-
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