Saturday, September 15, 2007

Five best: books on fashion

Woody Hochswender, a former features editor of Harper's Bazaar and style reporter for the New York Times, is the author of The Buddha in Your Rearview Mirror. He selected a five best list of books about fashion for Opinion Journal.

One title on the list:
D.V. by Diana Vreeland

Fashion's folderol reaches its zenith in the Alice-in-Wonderland mind of Diana Vreeland, the great Vogue and Harper's Bazaar editor. Written long after she was a legend and immortalized on film as the inspiration for "Funny Face" in 1957 ("Think pink!"), this discursive autobiography, edited by George Plimpton, follows her stream of consciousness at its most meandering and fantastical. It's a red river with pink fish constantly overflowing the banks of reason. "I loathe nostalgia," she says at the outset, then proceeds to give us about 200 pages of it. She was born in Paris (of course). Buffalo Bill taught her to ride. Picasso and Diaghilev hung out in the parlor. Clark Gable and, later, Jack Nicholson were her drinking buddies. Amid the torrent of hauteur and slightly batty pronouncements, there is a wealth of genuinely funny insight. And Vreeland had a real point of view. In fashion, this is crucial. Imperial, categorical, irrational, prophetic -- yes, all of the talented fashion editors I have known have been a bit like this. But Vreeland was the dressmaker's model for the type.
Read about the other titles on Hochswender's list.

--Marshal Zeringue