Bea & Ruth

How two young assistants ascended to one of the top spots in magazine design.

“They put us together because it bought them time to look for a male art director to replace us.”

The history-making collaboration between Ruth Ansel and Bea Feitler came about as the result of a bitter argument.

In 1962, Harper’s Bazaar art director Marvin Israel was fired on the spot by Editor-in-Chief Nancy White, after he commissioned a cover featuring a model who looked exactly like the magazine’s iconic former fashion editor, Diana Vreeland—a heavy-handed insinuation that Vreeland should have been given the top job.

At that moment, Israel’s two 24-year-old assistants, Ruth Ansel and Bea Feitler, assumed his role, becoming the first-ever female art directors of Harper’s Bazaar, and the youngest in the industry. It was the first of many firsts for both women, who were about to change the print design world forever.

The two arrived at their jobs in diametrically dif...

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