the late review – The Beautiful Fall

reviews,the late review — Danielle on July 20, 2008 at 12:02 pm

The Beautiful Fall by Alicia DrakeThe Beautiful Fall. Amazing book! Anita just finished it and loved it, and she lent it to me. This was a page turner – I could not put it down.

The subject is two of the greatest designers of the past 50 years, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. These two contemporaries were friends and rivals, and the timeline of their struggles and successes juxtapose two very different men inhabiting the same scene.

As is customary with the late review, my review follows the reviews of many others. Susie Bubble found Saint Laurent easy to identify with, and percieved a bias against Lagerfeld. I don’t think that the book was particularly biased one way or another, if anything Drake takes great effort to show both the talents and torments of both men equally. They both have enormous talent and great legends, and Drake shows the reader a hint of the humanity they both try to hide.

Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld are both polarizing figures in fashion. Saint Laurent represents the intuitive and emotional – fire and water. Lagerfeld represents the intellect and ambition – air and earth. How you read The Beautiful Fall might say something about your own attitude towards fashion – in my case I finished the book identifying more closely with Lagerfeld.

Saint Laurent’s career could certainly be described as a Beautiful Fall… starting from the very top at the beginning of his career, and by the end he was burnt out. By contrast, Lagerfeld’s career built slowly, and his great accomplishments have been achieved in the last decade. Saint Laurent glorified the past; Lagerfeld rejects it.

The other aspect of the book I found fascinating was the scenario. So many great moments in fashion that still echo today were produced by small cliques of very influential, talented, and creative people. The characters are important. The parties are critical to understanding fashion’s ever-shifting focal point. They say it is who you know – it also seems that it is where you are, and your own innate ability to adapt to the zeitgeist that wins you a niche in history.

Have you read the book? Did it change your attitude towards the designers or reveal an insight on the nature of fashion? I’m up for a discussion if you feel like it.

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    1. much like you, i ended up clearly in the lagerfeld camp. and much like you, i couldn’t put it down and read it in two evenings. there is a sense that lagerfeld was put in the corner, with ysl being made out to be the true genius. whether that is the case or not, is not for me to aver – but, i found myself ’emotionally’ siding with lagerfeld… nevertheless, i thought this book to be brilliant, and to be an amazing insight into the world of fashion.

      Comment by misshoax — July 20 2008 @ 12:56 pm
    2. Well, loving YSL was a given, not matter how insane and messed up he was. I liked KL going into the book and came out in love. He is amazing. She really did have a way of describing the whole scene and the archetypes. I notice me comparing people I see around to those in the book now. Tell me you are doing that too Danielle!!!!!

      Comment by geekigirl — July 21 2008 @ 6:28 pm
    3. misshoax – in the post I had to put forth the idea that each man represents a different element, and a different way of seeing the world – it is interesting that you side with Lagerfeld emotionally, as he is not an emotional character at all – and yet I felt the same thing.

      geekigirl – Its funny, I never had a great love for YSL but coming out of this book I felt a great appreciation for his designs even as his personality repels me. Karl Lagerfeld was a like to love trip for me too. I also really appreciated how she set the scene for us, and the notes at the end of the book made for interesting reading too.

      I can’t say that I have been comparing those around me to the people in the book – but then I have been rather isolated this week… that said, which do you compare me to? ;)

      Comment by Danielle — July 22 2008 @ 10:21 am
    4. […] expectations raise the stakes.  As I am curious about career trajectories, often it seems like supernova success is a great liability.  See Yves Saint Laurent, Orson Welles, Michael […]

    5. […] I first heard of Jacques de Bascher when a friend lent me a copy of The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris. […]

      Pingback by Jacques de Bascher | The Grumpy Owl — May 31 2011 @ 2:54 pm

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