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.