Ernestine Cartner, née Fantl, was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. She attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she studied modern and contemporary art and design, graduating in 1927. She got a job as a curatorial assistant at the newly-formed Museum of Modern Art in New York, and rose to become Curator of Architecture and Industrial Art. In 1936, she married John Waynflete Carter, a British antiquarian book dealer, and eventually moved with him to London. During the early part of World War II, she worked for the British Ministry of Information and edited a book of photographs by Lee Miller entitled Grim Glory: Pictures of Britain Under Fire (1941). Later in the war, she worked for the U.S. Office of War Information in London. In 1946, she helped create the design exhibition Britain Can Make It held at the Victoria and Albert Museum. That same year she became fashion editor for Harper's Bazaar. From 1946-1954, she wrote a newspaper column on cooking for The Observer, and published a cookbook called Flash in the Pan (1953). In 1955, she became the editor of the women's page of The Sunday Times, rising to become associate editor of the paper in 1968, a role she held until her retirement. Her support for emerging talent such as Mary Quant and Jean Muir helped London become a major center of fashion in the 1960s. She was appointed an OBE and was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1964. After her retirement in 1972, she wrote several books on fashion history.