A portion of my fashion library.
I am almost giddy with excitement, why you ask….I am celebrating a year of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and what a year it has been. Meeting each month with bubbles and bites, door prizes, goodie bags and give away books with a great group of regular members, their guests and new attendees it has been something I look forward to. Meeting in an elegant Private Club, in my opinion, just adds to this special series. We spend a half hour mixing and mingling with each other, then an hour of discussion. I’m working on taping the conversations so I can share them with all of you….stay tuned.
Our signature bubbles…..
I thought it would be a bit of fun to review what we have read so far and what is on the calendar for the rest of this year, I’ve left some dates open to slot in new releases. I have, so far, only done new releases as close to publication as possible and most months I am in conversation, via conference call, with the authors, leaving time, of course, for Q & A. In addition, I always have the current book and the next month’s selection on site for purchase and work closely with my Independent Bookseller, The Book Stall
Some of us at one of the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club meetings.
Let’s take a look at what we read and a peek into the upcoming books that will be featured this year….
A book I highly recommended…I recommend all of the books we have studied. This is a highly researched, detailed account of Loulou de la Falaise and Yves Saint Laurent….great conversation with Christopher Petkanas and here is my Amazon review…
“The book is extraordinary in so many ways, it is a MUST for anyone interested in the complicated intense world of fashion and the people who inhabit the ateliers, wear the exquisite garments they create and move in the social circles of the time. It is unique in that it is an oral biography told chronologically and includes Loulou ‘s family tree at the beginning of the book. I must admit it will take another reading to really appreciate the depth of research Petkanas has evoked. We hear from, I think, everyone who ever knew Loulou (over 200 people are quoted, some often, many are names we all recognize others less familiar, all have fascinating stories to tell), and the detailed family tree, her grandparents, her parents (especially her mother, Maxine “Maxime”), her two husbands, her many lovers, her friends, admirers, and, of course, Yves Saint Laurent. Controversial, most certainly, a fascinating read, without doubt.
Petkanas gives us thumbnail sketches of each contributing source, a bibliography, notes, permissions and an index. He has left nothing out if we want to continue our research. It is written for all fashionistas as well as fashion scholars. A stunning major work on a family, a world renowned fashion house and the times they inhabited, a definite add to your library. If you are looking for fluff…look elsewhere, this is a serious piece while remaining a totally entertaining read.”
Not a new release, in fact out of print, I thought a fun tie-in to the out-of-town preview of The Cher Show and I could talk a bit about my experiences working with the amazing Bob Mackie (fingers crossed that he wins the Tony award for best costumes….how could that not happened!!). A stunning book loaded with very glam photos and I love the typesetting…totally unique just like the designer.
It is unimaginable that this is the first monograph on the quintessential designer, Norman Norell and it is glorious. Written by Jeffrey Banks, a designer himself and extraordinary author with many illustrations by the amazing Michael Vollbracht. A must for your fashion library. Jeffrey is a brilliant interview and gave us so many insights into Mr. Norell, I was so fortunate to have fine many shows with him. And the cover of the book with the iconic Suzy Parker, probably my favorite of the first group of super models. A profile of Jeffrey can be found in the nenasnotes Archives.
My Amazon review…
“I have approximately 1000 books on fashion. I must say this extraordinary first monograph on one of the most important fashion designers, Norman Norell, by the talented designer/author, Jeffrey Banks, now tops my list. Each page MUST be devoured slowly, each iconic photograph and each brilliant Michael Vollbracht drawing only add to the beauty of the book. I had the great pleasure of working with Mr. Norell and his exquisite 4 models, Claudia, Claire, Denise and Yvonne (along with four local, Chicago, look alike models) on several fashion shows. The book took me back to the days when everyone dressed magnificently and everyone (me included) coveted a Norell specially a sequin mermaid gown. His talent, his creativity, his humble personality are all emphasized in NORELL. I am beyond thrilled that two of my favorite world class designers have now been immortalized in their long over due books…first, a couple of years ago, Bonnie Cashin:Chic Is Where You Find It by Stephanie Lake and now Norell: Master Of American Fashion, both iconic designers who led the emergence of what we now know as American Fashion. Bravo Jeffrey Banks. I encourage all interested in design, beauty and the history of fashion to hit the buy button immediately!!”
Jeffrey Banks DRESSED TO KILT, a Scottish evening of Fashion and Fun, at the Copacabana, New York City. April 6, 2005. John Spellman / Retna Ltd.
Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It yet another long over due monograph written by the keeper of the Cashin Archives, Stephanie Lake (I have written several nenasnotes post on Stephanie check the archives to sample her lifestyle and that of her husband, Cory and daughter Odette). Stephanie sent charming take always and book plates for the attendees. A fabulous in depth conversation that could have gone on for more that the allotted hour but that is true with all my authors.
A brilliant book part Dior biography and part the story of his homes in collaboration with just as talented interior designers. Loved this book unfortunately I could make the schedule work with author, Maureen Footer…she has promised to talk with us with her next book….let’s look forward to that in the near future.
Yet another of my Amazon reviews….I seem to dwell on my collection….ah well…
“I own over 1000 fashion books (my goal to own all published!), did I need to add another on Christian Dior, the answer is YES, when it is this extraordinarily researched and elegantly presented book by Maureen Footer. It is perfection and gives the reader a different slant of one of the most original and iconic of all fashion designers. Dior’s love for creativity in his fashion extends to his homes and salons and love of his gardens. Given the background of the elegant creators he worked with and Dior’s vision it becomes an intriguing story and the accompanying photographs are the icing on the cake. Adding to that icing an exquisite forward by another iconic influencer, Hamish Bowles. I do a monthly Fashion Book Club and this was a highlight of the series. Get this for yourself and for gifts, you will not be disappointed.”
Door prize box of Dior goodies and a goodie bag for each attendees
Another designer I had the pleasure of working with, Carolyne Roehm, who reinvented herself as a brilliant writer, I am obsessed with each of her books, they are glorious as is this one. Look at this stunning cover, the photographer non other than our own uber talented, Victor Skrebneski! You will find more of this geniuses work between the covers. So much to say about this look at creativity at its very best. Loved her designs, love her homes, love her floral talent and adore her books.
i have admired Valerie Steele forever and have heard her speak on many occasions. Her work as Director of the FIT Museum is exemplary and her books must reads and have in your library. I was beyond excited that she immediately agreed to be in conversation, and, by the way, will be back with us later this year with yet another exhibition companion book. We had a fabulous chat and the group was so enthralled that they didn’t make a sound, I had to ask them to say hi so she would know there were others in the room not just me!
Yes, another Amazon review….
“Book Review and other thoughts on pink in fashion and our lives: The book is brilliantly written, edited and illustrated. Giving us insights into a color that has been in fashion for centuries. I particularly like the layout of the book taking us from the courts of Europe when pink was worn by as many men as women through Haute Couture Collections to Punk to Red Carpets to Pussy Hats to Real Men Wear Pink to pink ribbons fighting breast cancer. We learn about the introduction of Shocking Pink by Elsa Schiaparelli to the iconic Yves Saint Laurent black gown with wide shocking pink bow, a garment, that Steele shared with us in conversation, that was a major exhibition coup and one she was especially excited to include. It is a MUST for your fashion library, but then all of Valerie Steele’s books are meant to be included there.
I have had the fabulous good fortune to have many brilliant authors join me in conversation for the monthly nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club and I must admit Valerie wasn’t an exception, we all learned so much! I hope she enjoyed the hour as much as I did and the attendees were in rapt attention, I might even say in awe with her at ease conversation in sharing her expertise which, in my opinion, knows no bounds. Bravo Valerie and thank you….here’s to the next book!”
Another author who immediately agreed to be with us and sent me an autographed copy of her book right away….what a joy to talk with the brilliant yet very down to earth, Caroline Weber, who is working on a sequel and will join us again upon its publication. While some might find M. Proust a bit of a challenge Caroline’s wit and wisdom and beyond extraordinary research discussing the women who influence his writings made all of us rethink delving into his works yet again.
I had to reschedule our January meeting due to inclement weather but was very anxious to talk with the amazing Hutton Wilkinson, I have worked with Hutton when he did his first book Tony Duquette as well as when he visited with his fine jewelry collection, also documented in a book…Dawnridge is as unique as both Duquette and Wilkinson are….nothing remotely like either gentleman nor their creativity exists to my mind’s eye….believe me when I say this conversation took on its own life….great fun. You can find his profile in the nenasnotes archive.
A book review…here you go….
“The beginning of the book gives us a detailed understanding of Tony’s life, and, of course how Hutton became his creative partner. The book is then organized by the three main houses and the elaborate grounds. Hutton takes us through the painstaking process of repurchasing many of the “lost” treasures of the home, the detailed drama of “reinventing” the original concept and not only enhancing it but bringing the dream into the reality of the 21st Century with its modern technology while keeping the essence and tradition of the original rooms, buildings and grounds in their transformations. The photos of the original rooms and new ones of the reinvented spaces are masterworks. I would go so far as to say an exquisite Phoenix has risen from the “ashes”. I could live in any of the spaces since my motto is definitely more is more and my most favorite color is green, let alone all the Malachite, and the chandeliers, and the layering, and…………totally dreamy!”
It seemed fitting to end the first year of nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club as we began with a book on Yves Saint Laurent…another scholarly tome, heavy both in content and heft of the book and one not to be read casually (I do have two novels scheduled for this year, both with designers as their subjects!). It is the first on YSL written in English and not translated from French. The research is extraordinary. Yet another for your collection.
When we think of Vogue Anna Wintour and Grace Coddington immediately come to mind, well there was a third critical eye with Tonne Goodman whose vision complimented and completed the iconic magazine’s editorial content. Balancing Coddington’s whimsy with more straight forward, yet visionary, photographs….and photography is what this book is all about. And the photography is just beyond….I particularly loved the pages of Vogue covers. Very little text but lots and lots and lots of fabulous photos by all the well known and not so well known photographers of our era….fabulous book!
Another monograph, this time Dawn Mallo, the genius behind Bergdorf Goodman’s revamp and the discoverer of many designers…think Michael Kors and the force who brought Tom Ford to Gucci during her tenure there. John Tiffany brings his investigative reporting to this sensational book with much the same vigor he did with his book on the doyenne of fashion Eleanor Lambert…can’t wait to have John in conversation….it will be awesome.
Our first novel and it’s about Gabrielle Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli….wow, should be fabulous. Can’t wait to hear what author, Jeanne Mackin has to tell us about her research. It is my favorite type of novel, one based on fact…yes, historical fiction..love it!
Who knew one of my favorite male models (actually mad for all my male and for that matter female models….but) Marcellas Reynolds has written his first book and what a book it looks to be…and I’m hoping he will actually be with us in person, he is a Chicago guy…fingers crossed.
It’s been quite a year and lots more to come….I’ll, of course, keep you updated and let you know when I can share the nenasnotes The Fashion Book Club conversations with you…we just have to figure out logistics and get the author’s permission to tape them….stay tuned!! In the meantime you can read along with us, I post here and on Instagram upcoming selections.
More of my fashion library….