To get where I’m coming from, first I have to tell you a little story. Really it’s my husband’s story: about the time that we were moving and he moved 25 contractor bags full of fashion magazines. Yes, you read that right–25 contractor bags of fashion magazines. They were all mine, and I insisted on moving them into our new apartment. They were primarily W and Vogue, with some other international editions mixed in.
This was what I called my fashion archive. My husband called it trash. Eventually all of those magazines did find their way to the trash–that is, the recycling bin (many recycling bins over weeks and weeks), however I still stand by my argument, which led me to cart around all of those pounds of glossies for so many years: fashion is important. It’s worth archiving, it’s a way that we express ourselves, and it has its own history. All of which makes it an important object of study in my opinion.
So, since you know a little bit about my fashion biases, it will probably come as no surprise that I love Amanda Brooks’ latest memoir/fashion history/insider’s view of the industry titled Always Pack a Party Dress. Brooks has particular insight into the fashion industry–really into the whole industry of aesthetics. She started her career as an intern for Patrick Demarchelier, and then as a “gallerina” at the Gagosian Gallery and she moved on to a variety of fashion posts–ending up as the fashion director Barneys New York, before decamping to her family farm in England to focus on her family and other projects.
Brooks has always been impeccably dressed with a twist: she never ignores her WASPy, prep school roots, but they are always partnered with a twist. (Think Barbour meets Balmain.) For those that love fashion, and get a thrill reading about early Tuleh, Louboutin, or Phillip Lim, her book is fabulous–with lots of insider anecdotes (like the time she met Billy Zane and Mick Jagger at a nightclub in Paris) and I highly recommend it. If, however, your idea of dressing up is Lands’ End with some Patagonia or L.L. Bean thrown in this may not be your book–but for those of you with a dash of Carrie Bradshaw in your hearts, you will love it. (And it basically covers the fashion history contained in those 25 bags.)