Saturday, September 19, 2009

Required reading: RARE vintage's Top 5 Fashion Books

Not only do we make the Kool-Aid at RARE vintage, we drink it!  We eat it, buy it, read it and wear it. One of my favorite things to do is to curl up in bed with a good book on vintage.  Our favorite fashion books are not exclusively books on fashion as they are books on unique style which is really what it is all about.  Here is RARE vintage's required reading list for the Fall:

Bettina Ballard: In My Fashion.  I absolutely LOVE this book.  Bettina Ballard's descriptions of going to Paris alone to work in the offices of French Vogue, having a little apartment on Faubourg St-Germain with faded flowered Chinese wallpaper and working with people like Bébé Bérard, the Duchesse d'Ayen, Michel de Brunoff is the absolute best description of fashionable Paris in the mid 1930s.  Her intimate stories are woven around the most absolutely glamorous people: Coco Chanel, Balenciaga, Mona Williams, well, I feel like rereading it right now for probably the tenth time.  And her nieces played "dress-up" in aunties old Balenciaga and Schiaparelli?????!!!  Sigh.  I wonder what happened to those dress up clothes?

Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico.  This is such a lovely story about a charwoman in London who falls deeply in love with a Christian Dior gown.  This book is really about the falling madly in love, will do anything to have it, can't stop thinking about it, side of fashion.  It is about a dress so beautiful and Mrs. Harris who would do nothing but work and save, deny herself even a cup of tea (could we buy Dior couture if we stop going to Starbucks??), just so she can save enough to go to Paris and buy herself that Dior gown.  She wanted it simply because it was so beautiful. Designers, are you listening???  (And Mr. Gallico, I know that you died in 1976, but did Mrs. Harris really have to have her dress ruined by the awful Miss Snite? I would have loved for her to have had it to keep and to look at in all its pristine beauty.)

Always in Vogue by Edna Woolman Chase. Edna Woolman Chase became the editor of Vogue in 1914 and worked there until 1952.  It is not that she was so very glamorous but the story of the early days of Vogue when Condé Nast took over, are fascinating and fun.  I love her descriptions of her house on the Gold Coast of Long Island as well.  

Marlene Dietrich by Maria Riva. Maria Riva has an exceptional memory and does not seem to have a forgotten a single plume growing up not only, as Marlene's Diectrich's daughter (which does not seem to have been the easiest experience) but also watching and assisting her mother either get her costumes ready for films or her personal wardrobe.  One of my favorite descriptions is when they are in the South of France at The Grand Hotel in St Jean Cap Ferrat and Marlene Dietrich is blond, tanned and dressed all in white silk satin with her glorious emerald bracelets (which Carolina Herrera now owns).  There is no better description of the perfect summer outfit.  There also great stories like Marlene Dietrich getting off a train and seeing the masses of people in the train station, tells her daughter that now she knows why they pay us so well.   Ouch!

Happy Times by Lee Radziwell.  Lee Radziwell chose to focus on the happy times for her wonderful book (and who can blame her?).  It is not at all a conventional fashion book or autobiography but it is certainly an ultimate book on style.  Lee Radziwell continues to look elegant and beautiful - just goes to show that fashion does not need to be forsaken just because one reaches a certain age.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these recommendations - they sound great. I'm always a fan of books which aren't actually about clothes but that capture the significance that beautiful clothes play in many women's lives.



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