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Newsweek reporter Thomas skillfully narrates European fashion houses' evolution from exclusive ateliers to marketing juggernauts. Telling the story through characters like the French mogul Bernard Arnault, she details how the perfection of old-time manufacturing, still seen in Hermès handbags, has bowed to sweatshops and wild profits on mediocre merchandise. After a brisk history of luxury, Thomas shows why handbags and perfume are as susceptible to globalization and corporate greed as less rarefied industries. She follows the overarching story, parts of which are familiar, from boardrooms to street markets that unload millions in counterfeit goods, dropping irresistible details like a Japanese monk obsessed with Comme des Garçons. But she's no killjoy. If anything, she's fond of the aristocratic past, snarks at "behemoths that churn out perfume like Kraft makes cheese" and is too credulous of fashionistas' towering egos. Despite her grasp of business machinations, her argument that conglomerates have stolen luxury's soul doesn't entirely wash. As her tales of quotidian vs. ultra luxury make clear, the rich and chic can still distinguish themselves, even when Las Vegas hosts the world's ritziest brands. Thomas might have delved deeper into why fashion labels inspire such mania, beyond "selling dreams," but her curiosity is contagious. (Aug.)
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*Starred Review* Thomas has been the fashion writer for Newsweek in Paris for 12 years and writes about style for the New York Times Magazine and other well-known publications. She traces the origins of luxury from the midnineteenth century, when Louis Vuitton made his first steamer trunks and custom-made clothing was strictly the province of European aristocracy, through the fashion boom of the 1920s, when names such as Dior, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent came into prominence, and buyers with expendable income could afford exquisite clothing and perfume. Sadly, today most of the well-known names are owned by multinational groups, and luxury items have become commodities, where buyers crave name brands for what they represent rather than their inherent quality of manufacture and design. Thomas takes us into the streets of New York, where counterfeit items are sold that look so much like the real thing that it takes an expert to tell them apart, to the Guangzhou region in China, where children make knockoff goods under appalling conditions. She manages to remove the veil from the fashion industry with a blend of history, culture, and investigative journalism. Siegfried, David --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Great book to learn about what fashion is or is not.......good insights to what fashion is all about.Published 5 days ago by Madame Bovary "Julie"
A must-read if you are: a connoisseur of old school luxury items (artisanal couture type) OR a throwaway fashion type who never saw much difference between the faux and the fine... Read morePublished 3 months ago by RiceMom
I was chained to this book until I reached the back cover. Facts, stories and the author's personal acquaintance with top names in the industry are neatly packaged into a product... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gabor Holch
I have this book and purchased it for a friend and it was in great condition.Published 5 months ago by Steph
This book details the mass consumer and profit oriented mindset of the few high end brands that frequently churn out formulaic luxury goods to create an illusion of value. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Shammari Hook
If you're a fan of fashion and have always been curious about the fashion industry then I recommend this book. Read morePublished 7 months ago by PRS
An enjoyable, intelligent book for fashion lovers. If you are interested in the story of fashion, business to art, this book is a good read.Published 7 months ago by Annalisa Panizzon
This is a great summary of the arc of luxury, from the height of luxury during the 1800's and the French kings, through the mid-1900's in the United States, and now looking toward... Read morePublished 7 months ago by **Rob**
This ia the story of couture versus mass merchandising. It explores a bygone era and why we are no longer buying real, valuable goods.Published 8 months ago by Mona A. Schane