September, its shortening days, cold breeze, overcrowded public transports and wardrobe dilemmas. It’s not summer anymore, but winter isn’t there yet. We still have fresh memories of the most recent holidays, barely softening the fact that the next ones are months away.
September, “the January of fashion”, with its phone-book-size magazines, month-long waltz of catwalks is a good fashion month. Two books discussing the lives of two pivotal fashion personalities are to be published half-way through the month.
Isabella Blow, by her former assistant Martina Rink with a foreword by Philip Treacy, looks like a coffee-table book. Although I haven’t had a chance to see it yet (it is out on September 13th), I trust publishers Thames & Hudson to only get the best of the best on their catalogue. From their press release, the book looks like a collection of memories rather than a narrative:
Martina Rink has brought together all those who were moved, influenced, discovered, and inspired by Isabella, in a volume that celebrates not only her life but also her outrageous personality, which left an indelible mark on all who met her. Texts and personal letters written exclusively for this book have been collected from legendary names in the fashion world, from Mario Testino and Manolo Blahnik to Hussein Chalayan and Anna Wintour. There are photographs by some of fashion’s greatest photographers, including Rankin, Donald McPherson, and Richard Burbridge, and illustrations by Hilary Knight and Paul Smith, in a homage to Isabella that celebrates her astonishing life.
Despite not owing a single magazine in which Blow’s work is featured, I admire the instinct she demonstrated in discovering people like Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan. Pictures of her (and of the Queen) convinced me that women in the 21st century should still wear hats, and I indirectly owe her my collection of headgear, all the feathery, felt and velvet numbers neatly piled up next to my shoes. I hope the book will convince me to finally wear them.
I haven’t read Justine Picardie’s Coco Chanel (out on September 16th) either but, again, I trust the author to write of very good biography of Mademoiselle.
Chanel has been written about a lot more than Blow. Coming up with a new, interesting angle on her life is probably difficult. Is a new biography life really necessary? Can Picardie do better than Edmonde Charles-Roux? Picardie’s books are generally well-researched, and I hope she got access to new material.
Picardie’s fashion writing has been on my radar for a while now. I think she’s one of Harper’s Bazaar best writers. From Daphne to My Mother’s Wedding Dress, I have found her books easy to get into and more importantly, hard to put down.
Isabella Blow picture from The New York Times
Chanel and Dali picture from Mimifroufrou