library finds – 24-07-09


Each week for Library Finds, I will go to the library, take out two books and share with you a photo of one spread or perhaps a random excerpt with brief comments of my own.

The Way She Looks Tonight: Five Women of Style
by Marian Fowler
The Way She Looks Tonight by Marian Fowler
This is one of my favourite fashion books, ever.  Written by Canadian historian Marian Fowler, it explores the sartorial biographies of five fascinating stylish women.  Two juicy quotes for you:

On Marlene Dietrich…

Critics ignored her singing and praised her gowns.  Each one delivered eros with maximum tease by being transparent enough to make you think you were seeing everything and covered enough, given those coy sequins, to make you realize you were seeing nothing.  One reviewer describing a gown concluded: “Houdini must have designed it.”  When, during a show at New York’s Mark Hellinger Theater, a young man near the front raised binoculars, Dietrich stopped right in the middle of a song and said sharply “You don’t have to do that.  Don’t kill the illusion.”

On Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis…

Jackie became an accomplished speed shopper.  She could be in and out of any store in the world in ten minutes or less, having run through at least $100,000.  “She had an eye for immediately spotting the most precious and expensive object wherever she goes,” sighed Ari, as his disenchantment grew.  She ignored price tags; she just pointed.  Sometimes, at Valentino or Givenchy showings, Jackie would buy almost the whole collection, not just the models that suited her.  Her consumptive fever was now seriously affecting her style.  Truman Capote recalls how sometimes when they were together in New York, Jackie would walk into a store, order three dozen identically styled silk blouses in all the colors available, give an address and walk out.  She seemed dazed, hypnotized, in a trance.  In one binge at Bergdorf’s, she bought thirty-six pairs of shoes.

Lucian Lelong by Jacqueline Demornex
Lucian Lelong by Jacqueline Demornex
Before there was the house of Dior, the house of Balmain, and the house of Givenchy, these famous couturiers worked for the one of the best pre-war couturiers – Lucian Lelong.  Lelong was incredibly well respected and his entrepreneurial spirit anticipated what fashion would become in the 1960s and beyond even as his own name faded.

Lelong's atelier
This book is beautifully illustrated with stunning photographs (including a few by Man Ray) and a tremendous collection of illustrations for magazines and advertisements including these ones by Christian Berard.  Click the images in this post for big!
colour plates by Berard

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3 thoughts on “library finds – 24-07-09”

  1. I adore The Way She Looks Tonight! My sister had a copy and I found it in her room- read it cover to cover in two days. Don’t remember when that was- maybe the summer before high school? Anyway, I love it. I especially liked the chapters on Marlene Dietrich and the Duchess of Windsor.

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