Sunday, March 13, 2016

Gods and Kings - McQueen and Galliano

Galliano and McQueen

This is one of the best biographies I have read in a long while.  The story of two young British designers who rose from humble beginnings to become major forces in the revolution of fashion in the last decades of the 20thC is told by fashion writer, Dana Thomas.

Gods and Kings - The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano,
 Dana Thomas,
 Penhguin Press, New York, 2015

The major fashion houses, Dior, YSL, Givenchy were relatively small, privately- owned couture operations. The changing dynamics of mass marketing and branding resulted in the inevitable entrance of the “men of high finance”.  These entrepreneurs  were money men, not fashion men.  By combining small fashion houses under  one umbrella, their power proved to be insurmountable.   They retained the famous labels, moved into the ready-to-wear markets and encouraged designers to retain their brand names, not only on clothing but branching into accessories and cosmetics.

This is the story of the transformation of couture into mass produced, affordable fashions.  The journey takes the reader into the culture of the period, from the seedy gay bars to the fashion runways.  Travelers in this journey included the rich and famous, the shakers and movers, and the up-and-coming celebrities such as Boy George and Madonna.

The meteoric rise the these young designers, who were only a few years off the dole, was so astonishing that they were referred to as the “Kings ”.  Reveling in their fame, they could not imagine their catastrophic demise at the hands of the “Gods”, the men of power and finance.  As Thomas notes, their problem was recreating fantastic, complicated designs, which would be able to be manufactured on a large scale.  They believed in their own “myth”.  

Also by Dana Thomas: Deluxe: How Luxury Lost  Its Lusture

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