Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hard-Fought Couture

ISBN-10: 0399161899 ISBN-13: 9780399161896 Published: Blue Rider Press, 09/03/2013 Pages: 288 Language: English
I may have already mentioned being a fan of Slate's Culture Gabfest one or two (thousand) times before, but how can you not write about a podcast that introduces you to someone as irresistibly charming as Simon Doonan? Doonan is a Slate contributor who writes frequently (and hilariously) about the world of fashion. His new book The Asylum: A collage of couture reminiscences...and hysteria is a collection of autobiographical essays detailing his rise from a "crap town" in England to the heights of the fashion industry. Previous blog entries may not have exactly pegged me as a fashionista-- in truth, it's a minor miracle I wear clothes at all-- but Doonan's voice is so unique and hilarious that it transcends the ostensible subject matter. Anyone with a yen for English slang or ingenious quips will come away from this book well-pleased. 

If you need a sample to be convinced, check out this excerpt from Slate, in which Doonan writes about, among other things, the double life he was forced to lead as a closeted homosexual in the economically depressed, conservative Britain of the 1970s and 1980s.  Or take a listen to Doonan on a recent episode of the Culture Gabfest-- he's a memorable audio presence, to say the least. I'll leave you with this quotation from his book:

"Though I am involved in all aspects of the Barneys store image, it is in the area of window display that I have made my name. My displays are jarring and punky and intentionally shocking: coyotes abducting babies, mannequins in coffins, fashion suicides, Christmas in July, a trailer-park tornado. My chosen themes have consistently erred toward the bizarre and unconventional. Early on in my display career I made a list of window-display taboos and then proceeded to bust them. Condoms, broken toilets, live vermin... it is hard for me to think of something inappropriate which I have not plonked in a display window at one time or another."

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