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Fashion Library: Ara Gallant

Whether it is strands sculpted into a frothy concoction or tendrils wildly unfurling in stilled momentum, hair is the central character Ara Gallant (Damiani 2010), the eponymous tome paying tribute to the work of the late American stylist and photographer. Were he alive today, Gallant might be dubbed the hair whisperer, for he made famous the “flying hair” that is featured in many of the book’s photographs, and he developed myriad ways of creating volume, including his ingenuous cardboard falls. From Anjelica Huston’s straight Egyptian-princess tresses to the wild tigress locks of Iman to the whipping tentacles of Twiggy, Gallant’s compositions, both photographs and coiffery, are featured throughout the beautiful, matte pages of this book compiled and edited by David Wills.

Gallant was born into a family of hair stylists and got his start at his uncle’s salon in the Bronx. His talent certainly belied his professed dislike of the work. As good friend and client Angelica Huston writes, Gallant did not style hair; he “did hair.” In addition to Huston’s introduction, contributions from an astonishing number of models, fashion editors and other who’s-who from the industry, including Lauren Hutton, Veruschka, Diane Von Furstenberg, Drew Barrymore and Steven Meisel, form a pastiche of Gallant’s life and work. With his talent for creating the ideal hairstyle to complement Read More »

Fashion Library: Maripol: Little Red Riding Hood

If you were touched for the very first time the Material Girl broke onto the scene, and you ran out and purchased lacy gloves, crucifix jewelry and a sack full of rubber bangles, then you will definitely want to check out Maripol: Little Red Riding Hood (Damiani 2010). Why? Because Maripol was Madonna’s former jewelry designer and stylist, the mastermind behind the singer’s early Boy Toy style. Even if you first rolled your eyes when you heard the 1980s were back in fashion (thank god stirrup pants haven’t yet made the cut), your stylistic senses will dig the funky street looks captured in the book’s mixed-media scrapbook-style. But this is definitely not your grandma’s scrapbook, with crusted glue tenuously securing a photo of some distant relative posing in polyester. Instead, Maripol is an insider’s collection of images and drawings of a cool chick and her 80s-era New York City friends, a list that includes Jean-Michel Basquiat, Grace Jones, Debbie Harry, Andy Warhol and, of course, Madonna. Read More »

David Bowie: Any Day Now

Yesterday a press release arrived in my inbox for David Bowie: Any Day Now: The London Years 1947–1974, a new book on the musician from Adelita Publishing. Coming from someone who, as a teenager, read and bought everything David Bowie and has remained a devoted fan into adulthood, this book looks incredibly well-researched and detailed. And Any Day Now is definitely a book—more of an encyclopedia—for Bowie nerds like me: Author Kevin Cann provides thorough, date-to-date entries of every goings-on in Bowie’s life during the late 1960s and early 70s, as well as loads of new biographical information, interviews and rare and never-seen photos. The media kit includes just one chapter from the book, all of 35 pages, but those pages are crammed with info and images, many of which I’d never seen. (I pity the art director who had to find a way to fit all this stuff Read More »

Giveaway! The Long (and Short) of It: The Madcap History of the Skirt

Yep, I am shamelessly promoting my book by giving it away for free! In 2007, Harpers published The Long (and Short) of It: The Madcap History of the Skirt, and I’d love to share it with readers of On This Day In Fashion. It’s basically a really cute pocket-sized tome of absolutely true stories about the world’s oldest garment, from the loincloth all the way up to the horrible low-rise micromini of 2005 (shudder). Well, there is one story in there about the embalmed hearts Queen Marguerite stored in the pockets of her hoop skirt, but you’ll have to read the book to find out whether that one is true or not. It also features fantastic illustrations by New York artist Leela Corman. Here’s a snippet from the description: Read More »

Get Prepped: The Definitive How-to Manual


Prepsters have been around as long as boarding-school boys attending Latin classes, gimlet-sipping jetsetters enjoying regattas and gentlemen playing squash at the local country club. The preppy dress code incorporates a spectrum of colors and styles, but the usual wardrobing suspects are Sperry Top-Siders, khakis, ribbon belts and polos with upturned collars, à la Making the Grade. As exclusive as Yale’s Skull and Crossbones society, insignia of all kinds, sprinkled on everything from pants to shirts to belts, were the silent signals for entrance into the club. We all know the symbols, but we’re not always invited to the party. Of course, like a good fake ID, these insignia or signature prints are easy to counterfeit. That’s what makes the look accessible to all of us. If it weren’t for the J. Crew knock-off, how would we ever afford the Balenciaga shrunken schoolboy blazer? As Lisa Birnbach tells us in The Official Preppy Handbook, published on this day in 1980, “prep is not restricted to an elite minority.”

In her now-classic (and impossible to find for a song) “how to” bible, Birnbach democratized the look of trust fund tweens and prep school kids, reassuring us that “you don’t have to be a Wasp or rich to be preppy. It’s a way of life.” Newsweek declared the Read More »

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