Book Club: The Beautiful Fall

The iconic Karl Lagerfeld and Yves St. Laurent have always been characters of much interest to me, so imagine my excitement when this book arrived a few weeks ago.

Ever since I started reading The Beautiful Fall, I have not been able to put it down.  Both stunning and compelling, the book deals with the life, love and work of two of fashion's most iconic designers: Karl Lagerfeld and Yves St. Laurent. Expertly put together by fashion journalist Alicia Drake, the book takes material from extensive interviews (over 100!) from their colleagues, friends and family to chronicle who was there during Paris' "fashion revolution" in the 70's.

A controversial relationship:
St. Laurent and Lagerfeld

During this period couture was starting to give way to ready-to-wear collections, and the designers are shown to be each others counterpoint.  The flamboyant Lagerfeld (in heels no less), and the passive St. Laurent, become the protagonists of party after party, while competing with each other on and off the runway during the day. 

St Laurent at a fashion show
with socialite Alicia Drake
Star Struck:
St. Laurent and Barbra Streisand

Belle du Jour:
Yves St. Laurent with fashion muse Catherine Deneuve
Portrait of Ives St. Laurent in the 70's

But it wasn't just competition for parties and fashion, they also competed for celebrity clientele, crazy headlines and ever hyper superficiality. Fashion's most well-known rivalry is one of two expertly crafted images, sometimes even more than their own couture dresses, and individual aesthetics.  Without giving too much away, I can say that ultimately, although the way they did it, and the nature of Lagerfeld and St. Laurent's individual achievements was very different from each other, both men were united under their commitment to fashion and their desire for opulent glory.  

Daphne Guiness, Ana Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld

Karl working with socialite Grace Coddington

Portrait of Karl Lagerfeld
I doubt, that without their bitter rivalry, neither of these talented men would have risen so high up the ranks of the fashion industry, for it was their competition, the book shows, that gets them the inspiration to succeed against one another, always striving to be better. I highly recommend this book if you are, like me, perennially in love with all things Paris, love fashion, or are looking for a honest depiction of homosexuality and drugs during Paris' days of the "fashion revolution."  And even if those themes are not what you are into, the book itself is a fascinating read for anyone who is interested in the pop culture machine and scathing social commentary. I give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up!

Love Always
Dani K

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