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Monday
Nov032008

THE BEAUTIFUL FALL - the story behind an ambitious climb -by Alicia Drake

Most people know the name Karl Lagerfeld.   KL has become world famous as the face behind the iconic House of CHANEL.    Karl seems to float through life on an effortless cloud...  aloof yet opinionated, visionary yet classic, never nostalgic, and an out of this world personality.    Yves Saint Laurent on the other hand had almost the exact opposite experience on Earth.   The legendary designer was reclusive and tormented by his own demons his whole life.   What most people don't know is the relationship between these two style icons.    They had the type of friendship that the youth of America would today call "frenemies".   Karl and Yves started their career the very same year in a national competition for the Wool Sydicate of France.  They were both winners in 1954 in different categories.    While Karl became more famous as a personality - Yves has the prestige from the start.

Alicia Drake weaves a wonderful tale that will have anyone with interest in fashion and celebrity turning page after page.   The name dropping of who's who of the 60's and 70's are amazing.    This was Paris and NY nightlife at its best - or should I say worst - depending how you look at it.   Think Drugs, Sex, & Glamour.    Maybe not in the order, but certainly a cocktail of the three!

The real story behind this 50 year animosity has more plot twists than a season of Desperate Housewives!

A must read for the fashion flock!   I think the book could almost be used as a textbook for the design industry due to the extent of fashion facts throw in along the way   Name a designer collection - its in there!!   click here to get a copy for yourself!  Amazon

I don't need to mention that Karl is the ringleader of our "six degrees of Fashionination".   Click here to see Karl's  personal transformation.

 

Sunday
Oct262008

Greece to NY and The Last Day of Paradise..

With all the "reality" shows that run the networks these days, it is so refreshing to discover a novel that you can dive into as a distraction to all the noise around us.
The Last Day of Paradise is one of those books you pick up because of the interesting cover art and unusual title. It doesn't take long to discover the double entendre of the title and realize the book is not at all what you thought. That is how the best works of fiction usually hook you. What you think is coming doesn't - and what you find you weren't looking for!
The book is the coming of age story of a young girl named Sunday living in Greece. Her and her friends reject their parents repressive ideas of family and culture that shackle them to the past. The kids speak English to each other as a code of cool talk and to liberate themselves from the world of the past that lingers on.
The author, Kiki Denis was herself born and raised in Greece and is a longtime New Yorker. She is able to make us feel that sense of longing that is universal for any young person growing up in a small town. It is that universal ambition for more that we can all remember- the desire to expand your horizons and get out and see the world.
A first time author Ms. Denis uses a wonderful technique of switching into a unique dialect of broken English mixed with contemporary slang - so much fun to read and process!
Denis herself is a graduate of
Mount Holyoke College which is one of the most prestigious Universities in America. Actually, it is the founding University of the Seven Sisters - a network of Universities exclusively for Women to be the female alternative to the Ivy League schools for men. For Kiki to write in this broken English style must have been a challenge. In her own way, it is a poignant commentary of the culture that raised her and to remind us just how much things have changed.
The story has twists and turns and takes you on a wonderful journey that is at times hysterical and at times very emotional - never an easy task. There is also a great fashion tie-in woven through the story.

The novel has gotten attention from some major competitions and important book reviews. Denis received an honorable mention in the
2007 Hollywood Book Festival (category: wild card) for her work.

Published by Gival Press, the easiest way to find it is to click on the title link above. The book is a perfect read to take on a weekend trip or better yet to give as a gift this holiday season.
If anyone has already read the story, please let us know your thoughts!

Kiki Denis lives in NYC and is currently working on her second novel.

Tuesday
Oct142008

Everybody Was So Young....

 

It was a different time, but so many points in this fascinating read are relevant today.   This biography of Sara and Gerald Murphy is so entertaining that it reads more like a fictional novel than a very true to form life story.  The Murphy's were both children of Privileged upbringings.   Both came from industrious families - hers from the oil industry - his from commerce.   The magical thing about the Murphy's was the passion they had for life.    Time after time they put the happiness of their family before the constrains of society or the moralistic codes of the times.   The story is set in NYC and the expatriate rich France - from Paris to Antibes during the 1920's. 

The details of their lives don't seem possible!  There is too much for one life!   The Murphy's were benefactors to just about every artist of the era.   They were supporters of F.Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda who were as notorious as they were talented.   The murphys often bailed out this financially strapped writer.   Fitzgerald would base Dick Diver from Tender is the Night on Gerald Murphy!   Hemingway was also a big part of their life.   In fact Ernest was so entranced by Sara - it is said that most of the female love interests in Hemingway's stories were based on the married Mrs. Murphy.

 Pablo Picasso painted Ms. Murphy on the beach in Antibes, France - as she was known to wear pearls to the beach strung down her back.   Oh, I forgot to mention - they invented sunbathing on the riviera.   Yes, you read that right.   The Murphy's actually convinced the Hotel du 'Cap in Antibes to stay open during the summer so they could be at the beach.   At the time no one spent time in the sun during the summer because it was too hot.   The Murphy's actually raked the beach and invited their friends- Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Cole Porter and screen legend Rudolph Valentino.

 As I said, it is page after page of detail rich story.   It is also a must read for any fan of fashion due to the descriptions of shopping trips to London and Paris.  Karl Lagerfeld used the Murphy's as his inspiration for the Chanel Spring 08 runway collection.   Coco Chanel herself makes a brief cameo as well.   What more can you ask for??!!   The book cover is the actual picture that ran as the COVER of Harpers Bazaar magazine as an announcement for Sara's wedding.  Can you stand it!!

First time novelist Amanda Vaill  (published by Broadway Books) really produced a fine piece of work here - it was a New York Times Bestseller when released.   If you are heading on a trip anytime soon - this is a wonderful read to take away as it takes you away to another time.