There is a certain sense of purity in the amount of matter of factness that is taken into clothing, fashion, and shopping habits. We do live in the age where sensory deprivation and Internet shopping reign supreme an era where whimsy can come off as trite and ugly can be honest too. Fashion by nature is frivolous though the act of not caring is in itself a dictation of style. Isn’t the most convoluted futurist Rick Owens offering as valid in linear narrative as the regular jo evoking mumblecore realness? Regardless these garment live an endless sea of poetic expressions that at some point steer into pure unadulterated commerce.
We like to always stay out of the box and apart from the status quo as most of us are in figuring and navigating function and form through the lines of digital capabilities. There are times when I look into the past from the sociological standpoint and question what is the reasons a reflection or reaction to the times. Where does fashion form to dictate the editorial directions which are then consumed and processed. With that rant here are some memoirs and biographies which have been a great source of inspiration and show the entire depths of the humanity of fashion players.
One of the more salacious biographies of fashion to get dropped last year, this book contains all the needs of 70s and 80s era hedonism via Paris, New York. Tally reached into his humble upbringing with a goddess grandmother as well as the King Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld during his time at Chloe into Chanel. Though this book truly portrays a man deeply devoted to fashion, the sense on loyalty seems tragic as the separation of garment and identity is lost to the Vogue ins and outs of the fashion set. Names dropped include the fore-mentioned Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Anna Wintour, and Diana Vreeland. Also note the subtle shade towards Edward Enninful. Check out the last interview Andre Leon Talley did for Vogue’s Met Gala before being replaced by Liza Koshy. Buy it here.
The thought of Diane von Furstenberg’s clothing has been essential in the cultural understanding of American sportswear. Her wrap dresses have been a constant standard of what the American woman would look like in the romanticize vision of metropolitan New York City life. This book offers up that and so much more as she delves into her familial past and family tree, traversing her mothers experiences of World War II and into her own Studio 54 era, marrying into aristocracy and becoming the prototypical fashion Girl-Boss. Beyond all the glamour and star studded shout outs in this memoir, the book offers more on the construction of culture and business as she moves through fashion, love, cosmetics, loss, cancer, family, and entrepreneurship. J’adore this throw back interview! Buy It Here.
Another title could have been “Anything for the picture!” A fascinating biography which shares the decorated and poetic life of Grace Coddington, the unsung hero of Vogue. The book highlights her deeply romantic journeys along side the consistent battle to attain creative autonomy. This book serves as a great launching point for anyone looking not to compromise their vision as well as proposes the glamour of the era of company cards and extended exotic trips for fashion. A must for those who thrive in pushing for a subversive stance in the creative industry. Her transition from model to editorial expresses so much more to be understood in the existence of being more than just a clothes hanger. This book though dusted with a heft of A list names really focuses on the creative auteurs which have been launched and cultivated by Coddington. Buy it Here
Can we think of the 70’s era Saint Laurent woman without the tailored androgyny of Betty Catroux and the ultimate Rive Gauche haute bohémienne Loulou de la Falaise. A well-designed oral history featuring all the various bitchy drama we need from the compiled interviews spanning her eccentric upbringing by model/mother/muse Maxime de la Falaise, her time bordering NY Warholian trenches to London’s scene with Ossie Clark and ultimately her time molding Saint Laurent. The book features a lush depiction of sex, drugs and haute couture funneled through the eras’s bohemian party girl from Aristocratic beauty to her last days. The tragic nature of her story is not so cautionary but embraced as a life well lived and is well blanketed in the mystique of gossip as well as the smoke and anything goes attitude from Club Sept. Argh we just want to be drunk and on opium to be in this reenacted room with Léa Seydoux as Loulou in her turban glory, and Gaspard Ulliel as YSL is quite yum. Buy it here.
The dancing queen, Halston and Stephen Burrows muse, the model who redefined the way models move on the runway, Pat Cleveland’s glittering life shimmers in this book which features all the drama of New York to Paris. So a forever light in fashions often dark scene, the book begins with Cleveland’s upbringing in the creative world her mother the artist Lady Bird Cleveland cultivates in Harlem to her initial discovery as a designer through Vogue and into her early career modeling with Essence through a reality shaking racist south. She offers heart breaking stories of racism and adversity which ultimately leads her to success in Europe aligning with Warhol before making it to iconic status in the states. Buy Here. Watch this Show studio interview and do read in her voice
Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow – Detmar Blow
One of the most tragic stories to come out of fashion, with a glorious life that would eventually end in suicide, Isabella Blow is honored in this book by her husband Detmar. Her privilege and troubled upbringing sets the tone for a rebellious life which leads to a stylistic cultivation and savant like quality of picking up talent from Philip Treacy to her most bountiful discovery, Alexander McQueen. Though though the eccentric outfits of armor like couture and artful acquaintances were endless it was all to veil the mental illness and various troubles of the visionary editor. This Video Fashion Obit is such a mood Buy it Here.
This is a playful and great book to have by the bed side as the ultimate fashion girl’s bedtime story. Each chapter is compiled as a surrealist experience presenting anecdotes and happenstances that seem all too good for reality. Perhaps Diana simply lived a life of nonstop Kismet. Prolific moments include years spent around Chanel in the 20s, skipping out on the Nazis, her time at vogue and the Met as well as her beautiful youth surrounded by playful Demimondaine during La Belle Époque. Fun fact this scene from Funny Face “Think Pink” was inspired by Diana Vreeland. Buy the Book here.
Beyond being a model/musician and postmodern muse to Jean Paul Goude and generations of gay men, the singer/model/actress finally wrote her memoirs. The first half of the book is heavy in tone set to her upbringing in Jamaica aligned with Pentecostal family hell. An experience which possibly created the fierce persona that came to make Jones. Once liberated and unleashed onto New York City Grace begins a modeling career which steers into endless nights as a queen at disco haven Studio 54. Though ultimately her career as a model and musician would maturate and become well envisioned in Paris where her disco tracks were abandoned for the underground sounds of dub and new wave aligning with the Parisian elite. Most fascinating was her time with Issey Miyake which gave way to her posing and kabuki inflected performances. Please also enjoy the longform video, A One Man Show which she was nominated for a Grammy and so got robbed of. Purchase here.
Possibly the best for last, this novel is a brilliant deconstruction of the fashion editors persona and mental state. Though jam packed with the editorial allure that made #BTSlife a starring aspect of editorial, Joan Juliet Buck’s novel posed more than the glitteratti which we so often use to escape reality. Her roots in old Hollywood are punctuated by legends who were mere family friends. Her love life was shown in a pace through ripples of male presences not to detract from the high stakes world of designers, Vogue and the endless fashion calendar. Opening with her firing ahead of the Prada show, the only American editor of Paris Vogue philosophical unraveling came as she knew her opinion would not matter. The most self affirming part of this book for anyone who is or wants to be involved in fashion comes towards the end as the author finds true happiness in community and the sobriety from a lifelong addiction to Vogue. Can we also enjoy the authors turn as an actress in 2009 Julia & Julia. Buy it now