In February 2011 John Galliano, the lauded head of Christian Dior, imploded with a drunken, anti-Semitic public tirade. Exactly a year earlier, celebrated designer Alexander McQueen took his own life three weeks before his women's wear show. Both were casualties of the war between art and commerce that has raged within fashion for the last two decades.
In the mid-1990s, Galliano and McQueen arrived on the fashion scene when the business was in an artistic and economic rut. They shook the establishment out of its bourgeois, minimalist stupor with daring, sexy designs and theatrical fashion shows. They had similar backgrounds: sensitive, shy gay men raised in tough London neighborhoods, their love of fashion nurtured by their doting mothers. By 1997 both had landed jobs as creative directors for couture houses owned by French tycoon Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH.
Galliano's and McQueen's work not only influenced fashion; their distinct styles were reflected across the media landscape. With their help luxury fashion evolved from a clutch of small, family-owned businesses into a $280 billion-a-year global corporate industry. Executives pushed the designers to meet increasingly rapid deadlines. For both Galliano and McQueen, the pace was unsustainable.
The same week that Galliano was fired, Forbes named Arnault the fourth richest man in the world. Two months later, in the wake of McQueen's death, Kate Middleton wore a McQueen wedding gown, instantly making the house the world's most famous fashion brand, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened a wildly successful McQueen retrospective, cosponsored by the corporate owners of the McQueen brand. The corporations had won, and the artists had lost.
In her groundbreaking work Gods and Kings, acclaimed journalist Dana Thomas tells the true story of McQueen and Galliano. In so doing she reveals the relentless world of couture.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Gods and Kings is an excellent chronicle of the lives of two fashion superstars and the toll it took on their lives. Recognized as wunder kinds for their vision and crafting abilities, they never grew beyond their fame to quiet their personnal demons. McQueen silenced his by committing suicide and Galliano through career suicide. Their stories are interesting because their lives intersected at school in a similar path to fame and success. They crashed at the same time with Galliano left standing, more or less. Left me with the impression that while true creativity is a little crazy it destroys when it is all crazy or certainly did in the case of these two men. All in all an interesting book.
The great thing about this book is that is brings back the days when fashion was this inventive and creative - especially the work of Alexander McQueen - and fortunately, the Web has all of his shows, so you can go back and view them again. Unfortunately, the writing is a slog. So many potentially great stories were suggested and then never followed up on. This was written by a journalist with an eye for details, who, what, when and where and she lists them all, but fails to develop anything beyond the surface. Unfortunately, both men come off looking like monsters although the writing makes one more sympathetic toward McQueen. Unless you are a dedicated fan of fashion, this book will bore you.
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is not a book to be breezed thru in an afternoon or two. In fact, I spent a good two and a half weeks with it, as I kept having to put it down and hit my computer to look up who people where and spent hours on youtube watching Galliano and McQueen shows, which thank Heaven nearly all the shows described in such wonderful detail in the book are archived there.
Dana Thomas does the customary dedication to her folks and gives a gracious thanks to all who helped her with resources and interviews, but she has not turned out a dry report on how fashion has become big business with no patience for artists, but a true and dedicated labor of love. She writes so that we know who these men are, what inspired them, who they liked, who they hated, what they drank, ate and ultimately what they put up their noses. And they are presented, truthfully yet raw and with respect. She presents Galliano and McQueen, so well that I found myself developing full on opinions and even taking...
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