Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Books, books, books - non-fiction books

If you're not reading Paula Joye's blog, Lifestyled, you should be. Last week she ran a piece about a decorator friend, Megan Morton. Morton clearly has great style but what stood out to me in the piece was the number of books we have in common. I have made many a friend via the contents of their bookshelves and coffee tables and I just know Morton and I would be friends based on what's on hers. Here are some recent favourites of mine, some of which Morton and I have in common...

1. Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
Coddington became super famous after her appearance in The September Issue. She is the much admired fashion editor of U.S. Vogue and she has a fantastic story to tell of a life well lived here in her memoir. Many responses I have read of this book have been negative and I think it is because many readers have not understood her Welsh-ness. She is not American born and thus does not have a compulsion to romanticize life. She tells her fabulous story as it fabulously was and seems to do it all with a shrug of the shoulders and a philosophy of 'What's done, is done.' and it certainly is. She gives a lot of herself in this and that's what makes it so interesting

2. The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake
This biography moves from chapter to chapter between the lives of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. It explores their careers as well as their personal lives as well as the social context surrounding their work and varied philosophies. Neither man seems easy to have lived with but the talent of both is undeniable. Ultimately, Drake allows her reader to decide to whom the spoils go. Offering a diplomatic telling of these intertwined tales.

3. The Vogue Factor by Kirstie Clements
When Clements was suddenly no longer the editor of Vogue Australia it left many readers wondering what happened. Suddenly, one month, readers had a new look Vogue, an obvious new direction to the magazine and no explanation as to why. This book finally gives the readers that explanation for the one person fit to offer one. Not just that, Clements also writes openly about her time at Vogue and the long and wonderful journey she had with the magazine. This is not a salacious tell-all from a disgruntled employee; it is a celebration of a woman, a career and vogue.

4. Blow by Blow by Detmar Blow
I found this book difficult to read at first. I found Blow's widow harsh and clinical especially in opening with and discussing her death. Later in the novel, I began to suspect that he was the only person to truly understand her. He saw her for the person she was without her facade, when she was fragile, weak and had let her veneer off. He writes openly about her financial concerns, her mental health issues, her reproductive health and the betrayal she experienced throughout her life. He has revealed a new side to Blow here, one that was not present in her eulogy and one I suspect few ever got to meet.

5. Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion by Lauren Goldstein Crowe
This biography gives us the Issie we all saw and knew. The one in the fabulous hats who could give a sound bite better than a shock jock dj on the radio. This has been thoroughly researched with multiple sources quoted. Most notably, Goldstein makes her reader feel close to Blow, so much so that when I finished reading this book I felt like I had lost a friend. There is a familiarity in the tone that makes you feel that you are not reading a book about Blow instead, you are getting a chance to spend time with her. The world is a little less fabulous without her, she is missed.

6. Infinite Variety by Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino
I was never a reader of non-fiction. I found any fidelity to real life passe and lacking until, I read this book. This woman's (the Marchesa Casati) life is so fantastic is has to be read to be believed. She lived her life in such over the top ways that one would be forgiven for thinking this is a work of fiction. I have not checked, but I believe every word is true. From having a slave painted entirely in gold leaf to walking her big cats at night through the streets of Venice with bejewelled collars on them. When the first most depicted woman in art gave birth to her child while still a virgin it is little wonder Casati is the second most depicted woman as the manner in which she lived her life is just as fantastical.

Please note: These images are the creative work of other very talented people and I do not claim them as my own.
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