Champagne Supernovas and Other Fun Fashion Reads
In the beginning... there was fashion! While waiting between shows at Fashion Week, you might be in need of a good book. Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen and the ‘90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion by Maureen Callahan is as over the top as it is informative. Remember how fashion was by the late '80s? The shoulder pads, the sequins, the big hair and heavy makeup? A set of values that was best encapsulated in the materialism of the television show Dynasty? Or as '80s supermodel Linda Evangelista once said, “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day.”
As frivolous as the fashion world may seem to many, this book is an excellent reminder of how much fashion itself is a part of our culture. Perhaps no one did this better than Alexander McQueen. His fashion shows were performance art where the worlds of culture, politics and art all collide. McQueen's work was darkly imaginative, drawing on themes of beauty, violence, death and decay. McQueen himself would always feel like an outsider in the fashion world. Though Marc Jacobs had many ups and downs in his career, he was on a very different path. Like McQueen, Jacobs always managed to find his greatest successes when he broke the rules. Callahan points to his greatest inspiration, the graffiti inspired Louis Vuitton bag that young girls would buy despite that it cost more than a month’s rent. Corrine Day is not a name you hear much today but she is one of the renegades who helped to remake fashion. Her early photos of Kate Moss altered what passed for beauty at the time. Moss was not the glamazon model of the 80s but the waif of the '90s. Day's photos were very minimalist and caught the eye of Ralph Lauren. Moss became the unlikeliest supermodel ever. Callahan credits Moss with an instinctive fashion sense that has altered the way many women dress. The first supermodel of the Internet Age, Kate's fashion choices would saturate the web and her many adoring fans would copy the looks she put together with a few clicks.
With chapter titles like “Fifteen-Year-Olds Don’t Go to Nightclubs,” “Fashion People Haven’t Got Any Brains,” and “Paris for Couture, London for Suits, America for Psychiatric Hospitals,” Callahan exudes a flippant attitude towards her subject. “Champagne Supernovas” is itself a reference to an Oasis song that might be seem to glamorize drug use, though it’s hard to say what the song is actually about. The '90s did coin the term “heroin chic” and there is a seamy underside to this world that is so focused on creating beauty. Alexander McQueen and his fashion muse, Isabella Blow, both ultimately lost their battles with depression.
Other fashion reads worth checking out:
- Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton
- Alexander McQueen: The Life and the Legacy by Judith Watt
- Vivienne Westwood: Fashion, Perversity and the Sixties Laid Bare by Fred Vermorel
- Nostalgia in Vogue: 2000-2010 by Eve MacSweeney
- Manolo Blahnik and the Tale of the Elves and the Shoemaker by Camilla Morton
- Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow by Detmar Blow with Tom Sykes
- Living in Style: Inspiration and Advice for Everyday Glamour by Rachel Zoe
- Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet by Tim Gunn with Ada Calhoun
- A Matter of Fashion: 20 Iconic Items that Changed the History of Style by Federico Rocca
- 100 New Fashion Designers by Hywel Davies