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The writer says in the first pages that this book is for anyone involved in fashion, who she describes are “each one conscious, in that moment they stop at the cash register of a store, that the shop assistant is placing in their bag not only a jacket or a trouser, a purse or a belt, but an entire system”, therefore this is a book for the rich and not so rich, for the old and young, for women and men, it’s pretty much for everyone.
The journalist, former Elle France magazine collaborator and current writer at Le Monde journal, tells in this compilation the factors that in her perspective have contributed to the fashion industry development and foundation, which in some cases could be stories for Hollywood movies… Ehem, correction, they have been already Hollywood movies (does The Devil Wears Prada ring the bell?).
Marie-Pierre explains that in the 90’s, the industry started to show signs of “war” to achieve the consumer’s recognition. Big business groups such as LVMH and PPR Gucci incorporated to their teams monster-experts on commerce and marketing (and not related to fashion at all), to become aggressive in their positioning strategies in a massive and transcendent way.
She also explains that after the big fashion labels, managed by company groups with expertise on business and finance (noting that fashion is a business after all), granted through time more participation to the design teams leaders, giving birth to the “Creative Director” role. Interesting facts are given about why personalities like Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld are applauded by the industry for being more than designers, they are visionary business managers.
Anyone into fashion wants to know about numbers; throughout the chapters profit figures are revealed, confessing numbers about some labels’ handbags, perfumes and licensing market shares, including the gross margin proportion of these sales. Marie-Pierre transmits well her point of view of how consumers contribute to the industry enrichment, making allusion to the influence of publicity aspirational campaigns, which aim to cross over the psychological threshold of the 750 € and persuade shoppers to walk into a store of any exclusive brand to make them become elitist owners of a garment or accessory.
I must highlight her theory that the fast fashion- apparel retail industry, which imitate the designs of the exclusive labels, have also contributed to the luxury industry growth. The fashion democratization consists in replicating a design to be worn by a massive volume of users, thanks to these retailers. This makes the exclusive even more aspirational, positioning in the stratosphere the luxury brands, and also pushing the elite shoppers to quit to evident logos and prefer distinctive hight-end materials which tend to be more expensive.
In the last part of the book (very funny by the way), entitled “To dress Nicole Kidman”, she narrates that nerve-racking moment where the fashion houses wait for celebrities to descend from their limos on their arrival to important events’ red carpet, just to see if Nicole wore or not any of the exclusive designs sent to her stylist specially made for her. Dressing a celebrity for an event, gives to designers certainty they will be infinitely mentioned in the media, what’s interesting in this part is everything that has to happen to make sure Nicole receives the designs.
This is a very easy-reading book, it entertains from the beginning and I personally enjoyed a lot, going deep into the fashion world made me feel that I understand better a simple magazine or bus stop advertisement.
I suggest you to read this book, remember that #FashionIsReading .
Marie-Pierre Lannelongue, 2004. La mode racontée a ceux qui la portent (French Edition). Originally published by Hachette Littératures.
You can find this book at Amazon.