I like fashion, but I’m no style icon. My mother has been getting Vogue for as long as I can remember, but I never had the patience to sift through the whole thing, especially that ten pound September issue. But she was always in the know, her closet teeming with designer duds, so I have some fashion awareness.
As I got older and could afford to buy my own clothes I came to appreciate fashion design, and a good shop can get my juices flowing like few other activities. The only time I would even consider skipping a meal is when I’m getting retail busy. I get a natural high when I leave the mall with a heavy shopping bag, and most days, I enjoy the process of getting dressed and accessorizing.
That’s why I was intrigued by the title of the new book, “Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the 90’s Renegades Who Remade Fashion,” so I chose it to review this month for the AP.
I loved it, and if you have even the slightest interest in fashion, or spent the 90’s in New York, or opened a style magazine in the last 10 years, it’s a fun read.
Author Maureen Callahan is a writer and editor for the New York Post so her style is blunt and brash and she has some pretty juicy details on the behind-the seams (see what I did there?) drama in the fashion world.
She writes an overview of the whole scene, but specifically explores the lives of McQueen, Jacobs, and Moss, who have fascinating back stories, including parent alienation, drug and sex addiction, and anxiety and depression.
What I liked most about the book was how it made me see fashion design in a new light. Instead of it being an unattainable world I’m excluded from because I don’t have the knowledge or deep pockets to indulge, I now have a better understanding of it as a business and an art form.
McQueen, Jacobs, and Moss created styles more than 20 years ago that are still influencing trends today. Callahan argues Moss is the most influential model in history, inspiring entire fashion lines from paparazzi street photos, and popularizing staples like skinny jeans and ballet flats.
Jacobs invented grunge and then took it to a luxury level, reinvigorating the Louis Vuitton brand. You know how the classic LV bags got a facelift with white leather and candy-colored logos? Jacobs did that.
McQueen was an artistic genius whose work was memorialized in a wildly popular exhibit at the Met in 2012. I’m still kicking myself that I never got to see it.
Here’s an excerpt from my review:
Callahan contends that the waifish, plain models and thrift-shop grunge aesthetic of ’90s fashion was an antidote to the “Glamazons” and gold-plated excess of the 1980s. There was a hunger for authenticity, and no one kept it more real than designers McQueen and Jacobs, and their muse, model Kate Moss.
Rising above childhoods marked by insecurity, financial instability, and a yearning to escape the conventional, the three had an unquestionable and enduring influence on modern fashion.
The pace is as quick as an H&M runway knockoff. Callahan’s prose is tight, and she stitches together momentum and suspense by alternating chapters on McQueen, Jacobs, and Moss.
The book’s title has three clever meanings: ‘champagne supernova’ is a lyric from a psychedelic song by the 90’s band Oasis, and can refer to bubbly in a martini glass, rimmed with cocaine. A supernova is when a star gets so bright it explodes, the perfect metaphor for the three profiled in the book, who each flame out at least once, but come back fighting.
You can read the entire review here.
And in honor of New York’s Fashion Week, I leave you with a few fun quotes…..
‘Girls do not dress for boys. They dress for themselves and, of course, each other. If girls dressed for boys they’d just walk around naked at all times.’ – Betsey Johnson
To me, clothing is a form of self-expression – there are hints about who you are in what you wear.’ – Marc Jacobs
‘Fashion is what you’re offered four times a year by designers. And style is what you choose.’ – Lauren Hutton
A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.’ – Coco Chanel
‘Fashions fade, style is eternal.’ – Yves Saint Laurent