Grace Mirabella, the editor-in-chief of the glossy Vogue magazine from 1971 to 1988, died on Thursday at her Manhattan home.
Mirabella died at the age of 91, according to Vogue, which confirmed her death with her stepson Anthony Cahan.
Mirabella began her career at Vogue in the 1960s under the late Diana Vreeland, and went on to found the namesake women’s magazine Mirabella. Vreeland, who had carried the magazine’s 1960s free spirit into the 1970s — but also seeing sales and advertising plummet — was sacked unexpectedly in 1971. The news of Mirabella’s promotion came while she was on a photo shoot in California, according to the Times. Mirabella was the second in command at Vogue at the time.
(According to the New York Times, Mirabella was fired abruptly and replaced by Anna Wintour, who is still at Vogue.)
Mirabella is credited for influencing the tone of the magazine while she was in control. What had previously been dramatic became more practical and business-minded — especially when more women entered the workforce and began to focus on their jobs. According to People, Mirabella, which is still a fashion magazine, sought to highlight the attire that women needed to achieve.
Mirabella had Vreeland’s crimson walls painted beige, and she usually dressed in beige at work. Vogue added arts, fitness, health, and beauty sections, and Mirabella’s circulation tripled from 400,000 in 1971 to north of 1.2 million in 1988.
“Grace guided Vogue through a momentous time in American history — emancipation, sexual freedom, and vital hard-won rights for women — and she made that time come alive on the magazine’s pages,” said Wintour, the now the chief content officer and global editorial director, in a Thursday-published Vogue obituary.
Wintour added: “She eschewed fantasy and escapism in favor of a style that was chicly minimalist and which spoke clearly and directly to the newly liberated ways we wanted to live. Grace showcased Helmut Newton at his most daring and championed so many American designers: Ralph [Lauren], Calvin [Klein], Donna [Karan], and Mr. Beene. She always exemplified the best of America in her vision and values, and she changed Vogue in ways which still resonate — and which we are profoundly thankful for — today.”
Mirabella announced the start of Mirabella magazine shortly after leaving Vogue, with the first issue appearing in 1989. It stayed in print until 2000, despite Mirabella’s departure four years previously to freelance writing and lecturing.
Mirabella was born in Newark on June 10, 1930, the daughter of a liquor trader. She studied fashion at Skidmore College in upstate New York, where she worked at dress shops during the summers. She worked at Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue after graduating before joining Vogue, where she began working in the credit department.
Mirabella also leaves behind a stepson, Christopher Cahan, as well as seven stepgrandchildren and three stepgreat-grandchildren.