Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
$6.99
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Ex-library book. Has usual library labels and stamps Good readable copy with minor wear to cover. Pages clean and unmarked. Eligible for Free 2-day Prime or free Super saver shipping. All orders ship fast from the Amazon warehouse with tracking number. Amazon's hassle free return policy means your satisfaction is guaranteed!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour Hardcover – July 5, 2005

4.1 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$4.99 $0.01
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Books with Buzz
Discover the latest buzz-worthy books, from mysteries and romance to humor and nonfiction. Explore more
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Not only do French women not get fat, they've led the world in style for the past 300 years. French historian DeJean's premise is simple yet wonderfully effective: largely because of one obsessive spendthrift, Louis XIV, France, in the late 17th century, became the arbiter of chic, a position from which it has never since faltered. Louis's outrageous vanity, sumptuous court and devotion to his own well-being led to growth in the manufacturing of fine clothing and shoes, and the invention of shops in which to buy them, and to celebrity cuisine, cafes and Champagne (a particularly amusing—and explosive—chapter). Louis was enthralled by glitter, which fostered a huge increase in the diamond trade; the theft of the Venetians' mirror-making secrets and subsequent rise of France as world leader in that field; and the first night streetlights (hence the "City of Lights"). Louis also abhorred mud (so streets were paved with cobblestones) and disliked getting wet (thus umbrellas were invented). This engaging history "lite"—to be published on Bastille Day—is a fun read despite its many Sex in the City references. Photos, illus. Agent, Alice Martell. (July 14)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–DeJean gives readers an entertaining and engrossing account of how and when France cornered the market on luxury. Beginning with a description of what life was like before Louis XIV ascended the throne in 1643, she then details the radical changes that occurred as he and his ministers redirected French manufactures toward the creation of new luxury items. Each of the various subjects she discusses has its own chapter that can stand alone; taken together they show how desire for style created new products and markets. Louis's sumptuous, constantly redesigned wardrobe was copied by his court. The interest in the elegant new styles led to the development of the fashion press. The magazines with their engravings (the original fashion plates) enthralled the common people, who wanted their own bit of glamour. The manufacture of luxury accessories allowed almost everyone to feel like a fashionista. Since women needed somewhere to show off their stylish clothes, the dark, smoky coffeehouses were replaced by elegant, glittering cafés with fine coffee and exquisite pastries. Teens who gather in modern cafés, flip through fashion magazines, and purchase designer bags will enjoy this book. They will also discover that Madison Avenue has nothing on 17th-century Paris.–Kathy Tewell, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st edition (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743264134
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743264136
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lev Raphael on October 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This beautifully written and intelligently argued book takes us back to a critical time in French history when brilliant, inventive artistic minds and a king bent on making France pre-eminent in European style came together to create, perfect, or popularize an astonishing array of products and ideas we take for granted. This list is amazingly varied: Champagne as the ne plus ultra for celebrations; folding umbrellas (yes!); full-length mirrors; the diamond as symbol of wealth and power; street lights making a city open at night; the coffee house where one could socialize and get great pastry; haute cuisine cookbooks--and more. I'm a novelist and essayist and radio reviewer and I found the narrative endlessly gripping and thought-provoking. This is popular history at its best: lively, witty, entertaining and wise. The author makes you feel the excitement of a time filled with dazzling characters bent on changing the world around them in big and small ways. I've read a great deal about this period, but have never before seen it as such a fertile ground for creation in many fields. Bravo.
Comment 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't that impressed with the idea behind this book, fashion as such doesn't really interest me, or only in a historical sense anyway. What has always had me wondering is why on Earth the French seem to have so much style and verve - seem to be the very heart of it both historically and in modern day - even the terms for the most stylish of wear haute couture, pret a porter and even elan are French after all. It is not just style they define, it is the essence of style. And it is not just fasion it is food and more -

So I picked up this book to see if deJean could shed some light on it - I expected a quick once over, perhaps some fuzzing at the edges and a book designed to be read rather than giving any depth. And it is none of these things. It seems the French can also write with style.

This is a wonderful quirky book, it certainly offers some convincing explanations for the French role in all things good, and deJean dates it back to the reign of seventeenth century Louis XIV who lived long and glamourously. His quest for things to make his life brighter, drier, and more beautiful may well have been the starting point for this ultimate role the French have now. The quest for things such as mirrors which were good, a method to keep himself dry when it rained (the umbrella), food, clothing, even paving on the streets to prevent getting covered in mud, deJean argues have all contributed to the way the French are now.

I don't know if I am that wildly convinced that a king 350 years ago really had that great influence on the national psyche now, but what I did find was the detail and the information was compelling. I found myself reading this and enjoying it just for that. So much I didn't know about French history, so much in fasion and food I didn't know and thoroughly enjoyed learning about.

A good read, easy page turner and while frivolous, tres bon.
Comment 47 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Topic Selection: B+ Although the book may seem a little all over the place to some, focusing on such diverse aspects of culture as food, clothing, champagne, perfume, parties, and even umbrellas, DeJean does a good job of relating the different parts of the book to one another. She ties them all to a very specific period of history and especially to Louis XIV.

Scholarship: C- DeJean seems to rely fairly heavily on a rather small number of sources, despite the fact that the total number of sources is pretty good. Also, at least some footnotes would help the book.

Readability: A- This book was obviously written to be consumed by a general audience. DeJean's style is very easy to read, although some of the chapters seem repetitive, as she often comes to the same conclusion.

Impartiality: C I detected a definite "France is great" tone to this book that could sometimes be a little distracting. One also gets the impression that DeJean thinks that the move towards rapidly changing fashions was inevitably a good thing, for which she does not give a reason. She was not biased in an overbearing way, but there is definitely a bias there.

Overall: B- I really enjoyed the book and for beginners to this area of history, I think it is ideal. You learn a lot of those little things that you always wondered about, such as where the concept of dessert comes from. DeJean's style is readable and she is obviously passionate about the subject. Serious scholars should stay away, as the book does not always adequately cite it's sources and does not prove its argument as adequately as it could.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well documented history of Louis XIV and his vision and desires for making France and especially Paris what it is today; the most charming city in the world. Cuisine, perfume, mirrors, hair styling, CITY LIGHTS, clean streets, umbrellas, champagne, etc. This book will raise your IQ 10 points and you will be ready for Jeopardy or Mensa.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fun book. For more in depth coverage of this topic in terms of how French fashion, culture, and politics affected America and our historical personalities, see book by David McCullough, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book explains why the French have "it", the glamour and style. It all started with the Sun King Louis XIV from fashion to food. A fun history and understanding of the French luxury, glamour and why they still have 'it'. Good reading.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews


Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: drawing fashion, clothing design