I love reading books about fashion and beauty.
Special thank you to the very talented Craig Wall for taking these photos.
‘A Matter of Style; Intimate Portraits of 10 Women Who Changed Fashion’ by Paola Saltari (White Star) Sometimes I start a book really, REALLY wanting to love it … and I don’t. I’m so disappointed! (and I also don’t review it). But this one was as good as I had hoped it would be! It’s about ten different women in chronological order who have changed fashion. I loved reading about Katharine Hepburn and her made-to-measure suits which gave her a feminine edge and her joie-de-vie with no make-up or perfume. I nicknamed one of my dear friends, Sally, Katharine Hepburn because she is so natural and beautiful! We read about Joe DiMaggio placing a bouquet of roses on Marilyn Monroe’s tomb three days a week for twenty years and about Diana Spencer whose wedding I watched at recess time when I was at high school. The list includes Mary Quant, Twiggy and Grace Kelly and the information and anecdotes are fascinating and inspirational.
‘New York Jackie; Pictures From Her Life in the City’ edited by Bridget Watson Payne (Chronicle Books) I discovered this book while shopping at Crabtree & Evelyn – I have often thought that whoever buys their books is doing a great job! This book is about the years that Jackie lived in New York. My husband is fascinated by JFK and reads a lot about him, but Jackie is the person that intrigues me – the things she had to cope with and then her reinventions, her love of books, how she enjoyed working as an editor and also as a champion to save Grand Central Station. What an amazing woman! It astounded me a few years ago when I asked for a book on Jackie Onassis at a former local book chain store. ‘No’, the assistant had never heard of Jackie Onassis. ‘Jackie Kennedy?’, I asked? ‘No’. Then ‘Jacqueline Bouvier?’, again ‘No’. I know I am not the only Jackie fan – I have interviewed a lady who has a whole section in her bookshelf devoted to every book available on Jackie together with a wonderful image of Jackie hanging over her dining table. Have you got this book, Dorryce? This book is filled with gorgeous candid photos including Jackie taking John Jr. to his first day of school, bike riding and walking with Rudolph Nureyev all with her amazing sense of style and grace which belies the experiences she had to weather.
Read my interview with Bridget Watson Payne here.
Visit Bridget Watson Payne’s website here.
‘Vogue on Ralph Lauren’ by Kathleen Baird-Murray (Quadrille) To me, Ralph Lauren really epitomises advertising that incorporates a whole imagery and lifestyle like a film. He recognised the importance of telling a story, a narrative and therefore, creating a total look. I remember his ‘Out of Africa’ style range, his ‘Eton’ look and then his ‘prairie’ look of the USA Midwest from when I was growing up and I was excited to read more about Lauren and his visions. Starting out as a tie salesman from the Bronx, through his commitment for quality and endless research, Lauren has created a multi-billion dollar company. Lauren says simply ‘When I started out 40 years ago, I made all the things I couldn’t find’. He is credited with having created the lifestyle concept – his clothes are for the lives people would like to be living and he inspired dreams. His advertising shoots are as complete as film sets and propped to the tiniest detail (including using live lion clubs draped around models’ shoulders) – creating the concept of clothes as a way of life. Later Lauren continued this film-set propping into his shops to enhance the lifestyle concept. He designed the USA 2008 (and Winter Games) and 2012 Olympics Games uniforms and oversaw the restoration of the original flag ‘the Star-Spangled Banner’. I remember when I first started styling Ralph Lauren items, I asked the marketing manager the correct way to pronounce his surname (definitely straight ‘Lauren’ without emphasis on the second syllable!)
Read my interview with Kathleen Baird-Murray here.
Visit Kathleen Baird-Murray’s website here.
‘Unlock Your Style’ by Nikki Parkinson (Hachette) I had heard fashion journalist, Parkinson, speak at a conference earlier this year and was keen to read her book. It’s a great reference and inspires you to try some different looks and products. Parkinson builds your confidence to dress in a way that matches your personality. She asks, ‘what makes you tick? What gives you energy?’ and then gives you some tools and references to try. Her sense of fun intertwined with some of her fashion anecdotes make this an enjoyable and amusing read. As a lover of bright lipsticks, her sections on lipstick were music to my ear. I also loved her sage comment to look for that spark when you are trying on clothes – if you don’t love it in the changing room, you won’t love it at home. New beauty favourites that I have discovered since reading this book are: Lush ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ facial cleanser and ‘Whip Stick’ lip balm, Essano ‘Rosehip’ Nourishing Hand Crème, Clinique ‘Lash Power’ feathering mascara and ‘Chubby Stick’ moisturizing lip colour balm and Jane Iredale ‘Deluxe Shader’, ‘Chisel Powder’ and Oval Blender’ brushes. This is a fun read to inspire and develop a love of fashion and beauty and to encourage you to make the most of what you have.
‘Fashion Is….’ from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Abrams) This compact book celebrates the years of fashion through items in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, resulting in a wonderful reference and promotion of the museum all in one. In this beautifully produced book a broad range of periods, styles and designers are featured. Highlights from the museum’s collection including the Costume Institute are costumes, regional dress, haute couture, accessories as well as works of art. So we see evening ensembles from Calvin Klein, the Mondrian-inspired dress by Yves Saint Laurent, gold sandals from Egypt c. 1479-1425 BC, an Elsa Schiaparelli coat, ‘May’ dress by Christian Dior (divine!) and evening dresses by Hubert de Givenchy, ceremonial skirts from the Congo, ‘Flying Saucer’ dress by Issey Miyake, boxer shorts by Brooks Brothers, evening shoes by Roger Vivier (breath-taking!) and dresses by Dolce & Gabbana and Diane Von Furstenberg. This book makes you think about fashion – the designers, the manufacturers and the wearers.
‘Hair Romance; How to Create 82 Fabulous Hairstyles’ by Christina Butcher (Murdoch Books) Top knots, French braids, ponytails – oh my! Just my kind of a book! This book is great fun – running through a range of styles to try depending on your hair length and type and your own preferences. I now recognize clever Butcher from a conference I attended. Divided into chapters on ponytails, plaits, buns, knots and twists, bouffants and resources, the book covers a lot of ground. With lists of what you will need for each style, step-by-step tutorials, clear illustrations, photos and descriptions it takes the guesswork out of doing your hair. Having had my hair in a range of styles from pixie/elfin, sharp bob and very long, this book gave me a fresh take on a few styles and some clever tips to try. I am loving the sea salt idea such as Lush ‘Sea Spray’ hair mist which gives your hair body, volume and hold.
Read my interview with Christina Butcher here.
Visit Christina Butcher’s website, Hair Romance, here.
‘A Matter of Fashion; 20 Iconic Items That Changed the History of Style’ by Federico Rocca (White Star) What a book! Divided into twenty chapters, it describes the items that have been most influential in fashion. This book presents the history and anecdotes of these items; most of them were created for surprisingly practical reasons and have just weathered the test of time. So we read about Levi jeans which evolved from rough canvas work pants made out of de Nimes cloth (which became denim) with copper rivets so that their pockets didn’t rip when workers put their tools in them. We hear about the chance meeting of a clothes packer named Louis Vuitton with Napoleon III’s wife which set him on his way to create waterproof and customised luggage. We read about the trench coat which came from trench warfare – initially a waterproof jacket designed by Burberry for his own rheumatism and was later used in the Second Boer war, trips to South Pole and for WWI troops. The mariniere is the practical striped top of Breton fisherman which was adopted for the French Navy in Brittany with 21 horizontal stripes (the number of Napoleon‘s military victories). Chuck Taylor’s All Star sneakers were designed to optimise traction for basketball players and were named after Taylor who travelled scouting for players, but cleverly promoted the shoes by having famous players and basketball stars photographed – all wearing the sneakers. Lacoste with it’s alligator logo was inspired by a the tennis player’s nickname. Hermes Carre (Square) scarf was made from the silk of jockey’s shirts. Ballerina flats were inspired by the practicality of hard-working ballet dancers and Raybans were created for pilots to avoid glare from the sun. A fascinating read!
‘Audrey in Rome’ edited by Ludovica Damiani and Luca Dotti, text by Sciascia Gambaccini (Harper Design; HarperCollins) I love that one of the editors of this book is one of Hepburn’s sons. Dotti explains that his mother’s fame began with the movie ‘Roman Holiday’ (1953) so many people connect her to Italy. People needed happy and carefree dreams and both the movie and Hepburn helped in this traumatic post-war era. This book is about the 20 years that Hepburn lived in Rome. The hair and make-up husband and wife team, the De Rossis, worked with Hepburn throughout these years and we are treated to candid photos of Hepburn getting her hair and make-up done, photos when she opened the telegram announcing her best actress award for ‘The Nun’s Story’, family photos, photos with her friends Hubert de Givenchy and shopping Doris Brynner (wife of Yul). Biography notes, list of her films and awards at the back of the book complete this celebration of Hepburn’s life in Rome.
Read my interview with Luca Dotti here.
Visit Luca Dotti’s website (The Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund) here. Luca Dotti’s twitter account is @lucadotti and his Instagram account is TheDottis.
‘Coco Chanel; Three Weeks 1962’ by Douglas Kirkland (Glitterati) I loved the concept of this book – 27 year old photojournalist, Kirkland, was sent to photograph Chanel when she was 79, in 1962. This book is the collection of the never-before-seen photos he took. Chanel really was (and remains) so important in the fashion world – liberating women of their corsets and feathers at the beginning of last century. Kirkland says that when he arrived in July 1962 most Parisians were away on holidays and he knew very little about Chanel. Over the next three weeks, he formed a friendship with Chanel and took candid photos of her peeking around screens, what she had close to her on her coffee table, fittings, fashion parades and beautiful smiles. He quotes Chanel saying ‘Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman’ and ‘You can be gorgeous at twenty, charming at forty and irresistible for the rest of your life’. Love it! Fabulous new season’s make-up from Chanel; Long-Lasting Eyeliner ‘Blanc’, Nail Colour ‘Phenix’, Lipstick ‘La Flamboyante’ and Eyeshadow Palette ‘Oiseaux De Nuit’.
Read my interview with Douglas Kirkland here.
Visit Douglas Kirkland’s website here.
‘Shopping, Seduction & Mr Selfridge’ by Lindy Woodhead (Profile) This book was recommended to me by a friend, Nik, and to be honest I didn’t know much about the London department store Selfridges or the man behind the name. The book was fascinating! We follow Selfridge as works in USA and then opens his Oxford Street store in London in 1909. He really was a visionary – it was Selfridge who put perfume and cosmetics counters near the front doors of shops, he created window-dressing as an art-form, compulsory training courses and information lectures for staff, light and bright interiors, TV departments which screened fashion shows around the store and unheard of customer service such as the hairdressing department (sitting 50 women at a time!), restaurants, crèches, nurses in the ladies’ rest room, dance demonstrations, he pioneered in-store fashion shows on the store’s terraced roof garden, the cloakroom which polished shoes, changed shoe laces and sewed on buttons all free of charge!, the concept of browsing, dance demonstrations, an aviation department and the in-store information service even helped customers complete their cross words! No wonder people came in droves! The store became one of the attractions of London – offering the public a great day out. Selfridge put the fun into shopping and made it an experience in itself. In a time of momentous changes in fashion, social and political arenas as well as an age of inventions, Selfridge kept the shop updated with the latest developments. Selfridge was famous for walking the store each morning and writing his initials HGS in any dust he found – the dust wouldn’t remain there for long! A great read.
Photography by Craig Wall.