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The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake

Saturday, 2 June 2007

I'm usually a fiction-reader, but after reading the description of the book and looking at the beautiful cover (the UK one on the left -yes I care about covers,) I decided to give The Beautiful Fall a try. It took me half a year to get through it, mainly because I stopped a few months during the holidays and exams, and it's also a bit thick and non-fiction.
The book is mainly about what it says on the cover: Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent and 'glorious excess in 1970s Paris', but it's also a lot more. The book goes through fashion from the 50s through Yves and Karl's journey, to changes in the fashion world in the 80s and 90s. It details the people who they hung out with, their career and the atmosphere of the fashion world in that period.
As someone who hasn't studied fashion and knew nothing about its history, this book really brought me a glimpse of what the fashion world was like back then: Back in the 70s, before fashion was strictly a business and creativity was important. And as someone who grew up knowing YSL only as an established brand name and from Stefano Pilati's designs, the book really drew out the genius and significance of Yves back in the 60s and 70s. He was THE designer who all women looked upon and relied on for fashion back then. Karl Lagerfeld on the other hand, was a freelance designer for a long time, designing from unknown brands to Fendi and Chloe, and eventually shot to fame in the 90s after Chanel hired him. He is amazing at adopting current trends with a brand's heritage and always learning new things.
The great thing about this book is that the author did not favour either one of the designers and showed the genius and disadvantages of both the designers. And while it was great to read about Yves and Karl, the best thing about this book is that you see how the fashion business has changed throughout the 60s to the 90s, mainly the Paris scene but also the international scene in general. So if you're interested in a bit of modern fashion history, give the book a try!

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