|Miss Billings, Fashion Finds' very own
librarian, has begun to compile a list of wonderful books that you will just love. Books
on fashion, photography, art, dance, music, film, biographies, novels, poetry,
Why would Miss Billings put a novel on the list? Not only because it is a great work of literature, but because there might be a wonderful description of a dress or a person; a description that just sends your imagination soaring. Her choice of biography may focus on a woman famous in her own right, or a woman behind a great man. You get the idea.
At the time of deadline, Miss Billings had not quite finished the Fashion Finds library catalog, but she is very optimistic that the collection of books will grow and grow. So check in regularly to see what she's added.
DV by Diana Vreeland. The bible.
The Power of Style by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins. A very interesting and informative book, and an excellent learning tool.
The Power of Glamour by Annette Tapert. The greats of movie star glamour: Harlow, Hepburn, Crawford, Lombard and the rest.
Then by Alex Liberman, a Conde Nast giant. A remembrance of things past in photographs. A beautiful pictorial account of a life well-lived, and of a time that is gone forever.
The Fashion Book. A beautiful "coffee table" book, but packed with lots of information. Really a must for any fashionista.
Valentino's Magic. A lovely book, with plenty of photos, about the wonderful Italian designer.
Claire McCardell: Redefining Modernism. Learn about an innovative American designer who really knew what American women wanted.
The Art of Haute Couture by Victor Skrebneski. Gorgeous photographs of magnificent clothes, beautifully lit. Skrebneski is a marvelous fashion photographer.
Chanel: A Woman of Her Own by Axel Madsen. The author worked for Elle, then served as editor of French Vogue for 12 years. A good, accessible read. Scheduled to become a TV miniseries starring Jane Seymour
Model by Michael Gross. Everything you wanted to know, and could have lived without knowing, about all the top models through the decades.
The Happy Summer Days by Fulco di Verdura. The consummate jeweler Verdura's account of his childhood in a family of Sicilian aristocrats.
Front Row by Lisa Armstrong. Great fun about being on the front lines of the fashion world by the British Vogue fashion writer and novelist.
(Hard to find. Try your library or used book store.)
Diana Cooper An Autobiography by Lady Diana Cooper. A woman of beauty, style, intelligence, breeding--she had it all. Very interesting individual. Coopers bio is in three parts: The Rainbow Comes and Goes, The Lights of Common Day and Trumpets from the Steep.
Marlene, by Maria Riva. A biography of the great Dietrich, written by her daughter. This one you won't be able to put down. If there ever was a German Open she was it.
Slim: Memories of a Rich and Imperfect Life by Slim Keith with Annette Tapert. The account of the style-setter Slim Keith and her marriages to the director Howard Hawks, the agent Leland Heyward, and British rich guy Lord Keith. A great looking tall California blonde (way before that phrase was coined), Slim epitomized the all-American look. While married to Hawks, Slim discovered Lauren Bacall in an issue of a fashion magazine, and Bacall's film career began. Hawks essentially fashioned the "Bacall look" after Slim's style. Very interesting stories about lots of famous people she knew, like Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Babe Paley and many others.
Mommy Dressing by Lois Gould. Gould's memoir of growing up with her mother Jo Copeland, a fashion designer of the Forties. Sort of a Mommy Dearest of fashion, yet loving, sad, and poignant.
Love, Loss and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman. A wonderful, touching book.
For you jewelry lovers out there:
The Necklace by Daniela Masceti and Amanda Triossi.
Traditional Jewelry of India by Oppi Untracht.
Greek Gold: Jewelry of the Classical World by Dyfri Williams and Jack Ogden.
Diamonds: A Century of Spectacular Jewels by Penny Roddow and Marion Fasel. Yummy.
Charmed Lives by Michael Korda. Just the greatest. The most funny, fascinating, insightful book about living inside the movie business. Michael grew up surrounded by the three British movie mogul Korda brothers (Michael's father and his two uncles), with the indomitable Alexander Korda as the pater familias. A book you will read and reread.
Queenie by Michael Korda. Kordas novel about an Anglo-Indian beauty who fights her way to the top to become one of Hollywoods most glamorous movie stars. A very thinly veiled account of Merle Oberon, who was also Kordas aunt for a time (Oberon was Alexander Kordas second wife). Lots of fun.
My Name Escapes Me: The Diary of a Retiring Actor by Alec Guinness. Also, check out Blessings in Disguise, Sir Alec's first book of memoirs. Both are wonderful books written by one of the world's preeminent actors. Sir Alec is also a very sweet man and once took the trouble to write a very sweet note to Miss Billings in reply to her fan letter.
With Nails, The Film Diaries of Richard E. Grant. A no holds barred account of the movie business, by the very talented star of Withnail and I.
Gentleman Prefer Blondes, by Anita Loos. What was true then, still holds true now.
Crime Scenes by Lawrence Bassoff. A collection of film noir movie posters.
Voltaire in Love by Nancy Mitford. An account of one of France's greatest writers, and his love affair with the Marquise du Chatelet, a great lady of her day.
Picasso and Dora by James Lord. Wonderfully gossipy memoir.
The Erotic Lives of Women by Linda Troeller and Marion Schneider. Interesting photographs and interviews with women from every walk of life.
Lartique's Riviera. A beautiful book of Jacques-Henri Lartique's photographs of the French Riviera during the 1920's.
On Stage, by Lord Snowdon. Lord Snowdon is the ex-husband of Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's sister. He is a very good photographer and just about EVERYBODY has "sat" for him. He took many pictures of Diana, Princess of Wales, especially early on in her marriage. This book contains wonderful photographs of some of Britain's greatest actors and actresses on stage and off.
1936-1942 San Onofre to Point Dume: Photographs by Don James. An wonderful book of photographs documenting the early days of the California surf culture. Long before Moon Doggie and The Beach Boys hit the scene.
Cherie and The Last of Cherie by Collette. Miss Billings feels another Colette attack coming on, and these two novels are a good place to start if you haven't read anything by this truly marvelous writer. She also wrote Gigi (which was made into a charming movie with Leslie Caron), and My Mother's House, and many, many other beloved books. Don't miss reading SOMETHING by Colette.
Rebecca by Daphne De Maurier. A very good book by a master of the romance novel, and also a terrific movie with Lawrence Olivier and Joan Fontaine. Rebecca's bedroom in the movie is something you'll never forget.
The Sheik by Edith Hull. The book which was made into a silent movie. And the movie that made Rudolph Valentino a screen legend. Quite racy for it's day and pretty wacky, but great fun and a really enjoyable way to pass a Sunday afternoon.
The Diviners by Margaret Laurence. A really fabulous novel by one of Canada's leading women writers.
My Fathers Glory and My Mothers Castle by Marcel Pagnol. Pagnol is another author you must read before leaving this earth. The love, insight, and humanism that emanates from this man is just wonderful. The end of this book will break your heart. Also by Pagnol is The Time of Secrets and The Time of Love, another delight. The end of chapter seven where Pagnol as a young boy observes the differences in boys and girls is just about as charming as something can be. Also by Pagnol is Jean de Florette (wonderful movie--remember the red carnations), and Manon of the Springs (also a movie, but no Florette). Pagnol wrote plays as well, great plays, and if you can find them in translation, or if an occasional film festival near you shows the old film adaptations (at least one is directed by Pagnol himself), enjoy them. The Bakers Wife and the trilogy Marius, Fanny and Caesar are some to look for.
The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden. All of us here at Fashion Finds are great fans of Rumer Godden, who, sadly, died recently. In time, Miss Billings will add all of Rumer Goddens books to the list. But Miss Billings is thinking that she will feature one Rumer Godden book a month, just to whet your appetites. Greengage Summer is a wonderful place to start. Were telling you, once you enter this world, theres no going back. This one is a gem. Heres a brief passage: "He had a carnation in his buttonhole, a dark red one, and it seemed to symbolize Eliot for us. Why are flowers bought by men so much more notable than those bought by women? I dont know, but they are. Father brought flowers into the house but they were dried, pressed brown, the life gone out of them; with Eliot the flower was alive; we could smell its clove scent, and it was heady." Dont you want to read on? Well, if you do, you wont be disappointed. We certainly have carnations on the brain over here at Fashion Finds between Marcel Pagnol and Rumer Godden. But, we do like the passage about a boutonnière, and we are sad that no one wears them anymore. Our editor-in-chiefs grandfather always wore one, every day, and we think its time to bring them back. And not just for men! Women! Start wearing them!!
Aztec by Gary Jennings. Author Jennings died in February. This is an extraordinary adventure story and historical novel in one. Jennings spent 12 years living in Mexico to study the Aztecs, and the detail in the book is a complete mind trip. His descriptions of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital upon which Mexico City was built, are dazzling. Imagine a city with Times Square-size banners made from the glorious feathers of tropical birds, visible from miles off. This, and much more, was the glory of the Aztec culture, destroyed by the Spanish. Top vacation reading.
Miss Billings has many more books on her list, but our web designer is having a fit. Hell be up all night doing this department. So La Billings is going to save the rest for next month. Stay tuned sports fans.
|[Return to Page One]|