Dreams, nightmares and America's first Black designer to high society
Welcome to This Week, Those Books, your rundown on books new and old that resonate with the week’s big news story.
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The Big Story:
It’s fashion month.
- New York Fashion Week ends September 13.
- London starts September 15.
- Milan becomes one big catwalk from September 19.
- Paris starts September 25, finishing off the sashay into spring/summer 2024.
Odd to be thinking of what to wear next spring as the northern hemisphere prepares for winter, but fashion is a world apart – beautiful and brutal; dreams and nightmares.
Highlights this season:
- Vietnamese-American designer Peter Do is the ‘new Helmut Lang’.
- British-Indian Supriya Lele wowed NYC before heading to London.
Fashion is big business, literally.
- NYC employs 180,000 people in the fashion industry and generates some $11 billion just in wages.
- London plays an outsize role in the nearly 30-billion-pound UK fashion industry.
- Fashion has been so central to Milan for centuries, its name spawned the English word ‘millaner’, meaning fine clothes and wares, with ‘milliner’ eventually referring to someone who made or sold hats.
- Paris? We’ll get to that.
The Big Four hold fashion weeks twice a year. It may feel like an ancient ritual but it’s not.
- The first fashion week was held in 1943 when New York organised a ‘Press Week’ to give buyers alternatives to French fashion during World War II.
- Milan Fashion Week was born in 1958.
- Paris had its first organised fashion week in 1973 though showings had been held since the 1700s.
- London Fashion Week was first held in 1984.
This Week, Those Books:
- A gripping exposé of the rarefied universe of high-end fashion.
- A tender new novel based on the life of America’s first Black dressmaker to the great and the good, not least Jackie Kennedy.
- An academic explains why fashion matters.