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Fleur Cowles, Flair Magazine Editor, Dies At 101

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LONDON — Fleur Cowles, a painter, writer and founder of short-lived but legendary magazine "Flair," has died.

Cowles died on Friday at a nursing home in Sussex, England. Her death was confirmed by her husband, Tom Montague Meyer.

The cause of death was not announced. The New York Times reported her age as 101, though Cowles had cited various birth dates as much as 10 years later.

She celebrated her wide circle of acquaintance in her 1996 memoir, "She Made Friends and Kept Them." Queen Mother Elizabeth was a friend, Cary Grant was best man at her third wedding, and British artist Lucian Freud enjoyed her patronage early in his career.

She wrote an authorized biography of Salvador Dali, and "Bloody Precedent," about Argentina under Juan and Evita Peron.

Cowles, however, thought a magazine called "Flair" was the best thing she ever did.

"I was Flair magazine," she told The Associated Press in a 1996 interview.

"I want Flair magazine to be considered my obit. And that's what I want to be remembered by forever. Nevermind any other thing I may have done. It's Flair that really reflects me."

A 50-cent package of high-society, art, literature and fashion, "Flair" lasted just 12 issues _ from February 1950 to January 1951. The magazine published works by W.H. Auden, Tennessee Williams, Gypsy Rose Lee, Simone de Beauvoir, Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau.

Expensively produced, it included gimmicks such as die-cut overlays, varied paper stocks and accordion inserts.

Her then-husband, Gardner Cowles, pulled the plug on "Flair" after losing an estimated $2.5 million.

Though a full set of "Flair" would have cost $6, a "Best of Flair" box set published by Rizzoli in 1996 was listed at $250 _ and it rated a second edition.

Born in Montclair, New Jersey, she worked in advertising, then wrote a column in the New York World-Telegram in 1931-32, then went back to advertising with her first husband, Atherton Pettingell. During World War II, she took a $1-a-year job as speechwriter and campaign director for government agencies.

In 1946, she married Cowles, president of Cowles Magazines, Inc., which published "Look" magazine. She was already running Look's women's sections.

The marriage ended in 1955, and she then married British timber executive Tom Montague Meyer, who survives.