Liz Tilberis' career, which included serving as editor of two of the most influential fashion magazines in the world, came extremely close to never happening. In the 1960s, when she applied to study at the Jacob Kramer Art College in England, the first tutor to see her portfolio dismissed it. She gave an impassioned speech about her love of fashion and not only gained admittance, but married that tutor, Andrew Tilberis.
Through two decades of editing first British Vogue and later Harper's Bazaar in New York, Tilberis made fashion accessible, drawing inspiration from couture lines as well as army surplus stores and caterers' outfitters. Tilberis "knew every inch of fashion magazines, every trick, every cliché, every heart-wrenching image," her former assistant Avril Morrison wrote in her obituary in the Independent. "She created many of them herself." But Tilberis, who died in 1999 after a heroic battle with ovarian cancer, was remembered more for her genuine kindness, which played a large role in her success. "The charm, which she possessed in bucketfuls, was five parts warmth, three parts humor," Morrison wrote. "Her reputation for niceness was legendary but disguised a formidable determination. She was the iron fist in a velvet glove."