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Condé Montrose Nast (March 26, 1873September 19, 1942) was the founder of Condé Nast Publications, a leading American magazine publisher known for publications such as Vanity Fair and Vogue.

Background

Named for his uncle Condé L. Benoist, Condé Montrose Nast was born in New York Citymarker to a family of Midwestern origin. His father, William F. Nast (son of the German-born Methodist leader William Nast) was an unsuccessful broker and inventor who had also served as U.S. attaché in Berlin. His mother, the former Esther A. Benoist, was a daughter of pioneering St. Louismarker banker Louis Auguste Benoist and a descendant of a prominent French family that emigrated to Canada and thence to Missouri.

He had three siblings: Louis, Ethel, and Estelle.

Nast's aunt financed his studies at Georgetown Universitymarker, where he graduated in 1894. He went on to earn a law degree from Washington University in St. Louismarker in 1897.

Career

Nast did not take well to law, and upon graduation he got a job working for a former classmate as advertising manager for Collier's Weekly (1898–1907). Over the course of a decade he increased the advertising revenue 100-fold. He published books and Lippincott's Monthly Magazine with Robert M. McBride (McBride, Nast & Co.). After leaving Collier's Nast bought Vogue, then a small New York society magazine, transforming it into America's premier fashion magazine. He then turned Vanity Fair into a sophisticated general interest publication. Nast eventually owned a stable of magazines that included House & Garden, British, French, and Argentine editions of Vogue, Jardins des Modes, and Glamour (the last magazine added to the group while he was alive). While other publishers simply focused on increasing the number of magazines in circulation, Nast targeted groups of readers by income level or common interest.

Among his staffers were Edna Woolman Chase, who served as the editor in chief of Vogue; Frank Crowninshield, who launched Vanity Fair for Nast; and Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley.

Nearly ruined in the Great Depression, Nast spent his last years struggling to regain his early prosperity.

Marriages

Nast was married twice. His wives were:
  • Clarisse Coudert, a Coudert Brothers law-firm heiress who became a set and costume designer. Married in 1902, separated in 1919, and divorced in 1925, they had two children, Charles Coudert Nast and Natica Nast, an artist (who married Gerald F. Warburg, a banking heir and professional cellist and conductor).[43438] After her divorce from Nast, Clarisse Coudert Nast married J.V. Onativia. (See photographs of Clarisse Nast on Wikimedia Commons.)
  • Leslie Foster, whom he married in 1928; a granddaughter of Gov. George White Baxter of Tennessee, the bride was 20, the groom was 55. Divorced circa 1932, they had one child, a daughter, Leslie (who married firstly, Peter George Grenfell, 2nd Baron St. Just,> and secondly, Lord Bonham Carter): after their divorce, Leslie Foster Nast married Lt. Col. Sir Reginald Benson.


Between 1932 and 1936, Nast's companion was the Vanity Fair writer Helen Brown Norden Lawrenson, author of The Hussy's Handbook (1942), Latins are Still Lousy Lovers (1968), and Stranger at the Party (1975).

Death

Condé Nast died in 1942 and is interred at Gate of Heaven Cemeterymarker in Hawthorne, New Yorkmarker. His grave is located in Section 25 of the cemetery, near Babe Ruth and Billy Martin.

References

  1. "Mrs. Condé Nast Sues for Divorce in Paris", New York Times, May 30, 1925, p. 9.
  2. *"Miss Nast Fiancée of Baron St. Just", The New York Times, January 24 1949, p. 14
  3. Patrick O'Higgins. Helen Lawrenson's Two Lives: Beer and Champagne, Kiss and Tell. People. June 30, 1975 Vol. 3 No. 25 [1]
  4. LAURIE JOHNSTON. HELEN LAWRENSON, 74, WROTE ABOUT NOTABLE SOCIAL AFFAIRS. New York Times April 8, 1982 [2]
  5. "Husband and Wife Reunited: After a Separation of Thirteen Years, They Come Together", The New York Times, October 14 1890, p. 3
  6. Condé Nast Dead; Publisher was 68", The New York Times, September 20 1942, p. 39


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