In preparation for the holiday season, Address selected three casual reads that will keep you entrained and informed about fashion. Kate Betts looks back at her career as a fashion journalist in Paris during the 1980’s; Eileen Ford, the founder of Ford modelling agency, chronicles the the meteoric rise of her company to the top of the fashion and beauty business; and Diana von Furstenberg’s extraordinary life is brought into focus though the story of her career.
My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine by Kate Betts
My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine is a charming and insightful memoir about coming of age as a fashion journalist in 1980s Paris, by former Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar editor Kate Betts, the author of Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style
As a young woman, Kate Betts nursed a dream of striking out on her own in a faraway place and becoming a glamorous foreign correspondent. After college—and not without trepidation—she took off for Paris, renting a room in the apartment of a young BCBG (bon chic, bon genre) family and throwing herself into the local culture. She was determined to master French slang, style, and savoir faire, and to find a job that would give her a reason to stay.
After a series of dues-paying jobs that seemed only to reinforce her outsider status, Kate’s hard work and willingness to take on any assignment paid off: Her writing and intrepid forays into la France Profonde—true France—caught the eye of John Fairchild, the mercurial fashion arbiter and publisher of Women’s Wear Daily, the industry’s bible. Kate’s earliest assignments—investigating the mineral water preferred by high society, chasing after a costumed band of wild boar hunters through the forests of Brittany—were a rough apprenticeship, but she was rewarded for her efforts and was initiated into the elite ranks of Mr. Fairchild’s trusted few who sat beside him in the front row and at private previews in the ateliers of the gods of French fashion. From a woozy yet mesmerizing Yves Saint Laurent and the mischievous and commanding Karl Lagerfeld to the riotous, brilliant young guns who were rewriting all the rules—Martin Margiela, Helmut Lang, John Galliano—Betts gives us a view of what it was like to be an American girl, learning about herself, falling in love, and finding her tribe.
Kate Betts’s captivating memoir brings to life the enchantment of France—from the nightclubs of 1980s Paris where she learned to dance Le Rock, to the lavender fields of Provence and the grand spectacle of the Cour Carrée—and magically re-creates that moment in life when a young woman discovers who she’s meant to be.
Published by Penguin Random House
Model Woman: Eileen Ford and the Business of Beauty by Robert Lacey
Working with her husband, Jerry, Eileen Ford created the twentieth century’s largest and most successful modeling agency, representing some of the fashion world’s most famous names—Suzy Parker, Carmen Dell’Orefice, Lauren Hutton, Rene Russo, Christie Brinkley, Jerry Hall, Christy Turlington, and Naomi Campbell. Her relentless ambition turned the business of modeling into one of the most glamorous and desired professions, helping to convert her stable of beautiful faces into millionaire superstars.
Model Woman chronicles the Ford Modeling Agency’s meteoric rise to the top of the fashion and beauty business, and paints a vibrant portrait of the uncompromising woman at its helm in all her glittering, tyrannical brilliance. Outspoken and controversial, Ford was never afraid to offend in defense of her stringent standards. When she chose, she could deliver hauteur in the grand tradition of fashion’s battle-axes, from Coco Chanel to Diana Vreeland—just ask John Casablancas or Janice Dickinson. But she was also a shrewd businesswoman with a keen eye for talent and a passion for serving her clients.
Drawing on more than four years of intensive interviews with Ford and her intimates, associates, and rivals, as well as exclusive access to agency documents and memorabilia, Robert Lacey weaves an unforgettable tale of a determined entrepreneur and the empire she built—a story of beauty, ambition, business, and popular culture as powerful and complex as the woman at its centre.
published by Harper Collins
Diane von Furstenberg – A Life Unwrapped by Gioia Diliberto
A sweeping biography of one of the most influential and controversial legends of late twentieth-century fashion, an iconic designer whose colorful creations, including the “wrap dress,” captured the modern feminist spirit.
The daughter of a Holocaust survivor and wife of an Austrian nobleman, Diane von Furstenberg burst onto New York’s fashion scene in 1969, and within a few years became an international sensation with her colorful wrap dress in printed jersey. Embraced by millions of American women of all ages, sizes, and shapes, the dress became a cult object and symbol of women’s liberation, tied inexorably to the image of youth, independence, and sex Diane herself projected.
In this masterful biography, Gioia Diliberto brings Diane’s extraordinary life into focus, from her post-World-War-II childhood in Belgium, through her rise to the top of the fashion world during the decadent seventies and glamorous go-go eighties, to her humiliating failures both professional and personal, and her remarkable comeback in the nineties. Like Coco Chanel, Diane has always been her own best advertisement. Morphing from a frizzy brunette outsider in a sea of sleek blondes to a stunning pop cultural icon, she embodied the brand she created—“the DVF woman,” a model of self-sufficiency, sensuality, and confidence.
Dilberto’s captivating, balanced portrait, based on scores of interviews with Diane’s family, friends, lovers, employees, and the designer herself, explores von Furstenberg’s relationships with her husbands and lovers, and illuminates fashion’s evolution from rare luxury to marketing monster and the development of a uniquely American style. Lively and insightful, the book also explores the larger world of the nation’s elite, where fashion, culture, society, politics, and Hollywood collide. Diane von Furstenberg is a modern fable of self-invention, fame, wealth, failure, and success that mirrors late-twentieth century America itself.
Published by Harper Collins