Bernadine Morris, Veteran Observer of Fashion, Dies at 92


“The theater critic of The New York Times I do believe wields power,” she was quoted as saying in Nicholas Coleridge’s book “The Fashion Conspiracy” (1988). “But not the fashion editor. It’s too diffuse. The most I can do, if I’m really enthusiastic, is get a buyer to go see the collection.”

Many designers might have disagreed. They hung on her every printed word as she roamed through Europe and the United States, sometimes covering four fashion shows a day for two weeks and also choosing the illustrations (by Antonio Lopez and Maning Obregon, among others) and photographs (by Don Hogan Charles, Bill Cunningham and others) that would accompany her articles and reviews.


Ms. Morris in 1976. Credit The New York Times

In 1970, she recalled in a 2003 review of Michael Gross’s “Genuine Authentic: The Real Life of Ralph Lauren” on the fashion website, Bloomingdale’s opened its Polo Shop, which featured Ralph Lauren’s radical four-inch-wide ties. It was the first time the store had sponsored a name designer in its men’s department.

“Marvin Traub, the head of Bloomingdale’s, had invited me to his office to see the revolutionary work of a new men’s wear designer, which was entirely different from what conservative, traditional-minded men were wearing,” she wrote. “The ties were an instant success.”

Her fashion reviews rarely equivocated.

In 1982, when Chanel tinkered with its classic suit, Ms. Morris concluded: “Quiet, unassuming clothes have been transformed into fairly arrogant styles. The Chanel look has been vulgarized.”

“But,” she added, “not everyone is troubled by it.”

Ms. Morris was something of a trendsetter herself — she wore patterned stockings before they were fashionable — but she typically favored practical, unpretentious sportswear, including Kimberly knits and dresses by Ellen Brooke.

Ms. Morris wrote several books, including “The Fashion Makers” (1978) and “Scaasi: A Cut Above” (1996).

Bernadine Taub was born on June 10, 1925, in Harlem. She graduated from Hunter College in the Bronx in 1945 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. While working at Millinery Research, a fashion weekly, she earned a master’s in English from New York University.

Before joining The Times, she worked at the magazine Fashion Trades and at The New York Journal-American.

Ms. Morris gravitated to fashion coverage because it was among the relatively few reporting specialties that welcomed women.

She married Jesse Morris, a businessman who had sold locomotives and became the director of financial services at the American Natural Soda Ash Corporation. He died in 2011. In addition to their daughter, she is survived by their son, Michael, and two granddaughters.

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