What is fashion? What is fashionable? Who decides what's in and what's out? Why is it green one year and blue the next? Why is one little black dress worth five thousand dollars and another worth fifty? Is the catwalk really that catty? What makes a supermodel so super? And a designer too hot to touch? Who is making money? Who owns whom? Who hates whom? And who's in each other's pockets? The answers are all to be found in Fashion Babylon. Taking the reader through six months in a designer's life, it explains how a collection is put together -- from the objects of inspiration to the catwalk, into the shops and, hopefully, onto the cover of a magazine. It examines who goes to the shows and where they sit...and whose backside they have to kiss to get there. Narrated from the point of view of an anonymous A-list British fashion designer looking to break out across the pond and structured around three of the annual "must" industry events in London, Paris and New York, this irresistible work of reportage goes inside the well-cut seams of the fashion world, where women are paid tens of thousands of dollars for simply getting dressed and where a wrong skirt length can cost you your career. Fashion Babylon decodes the markups and the comedowns, the fabulous extremes and the shoddy shortcuts behind one of the most lucrative and secretive businesses in the world. Witty, naughty and packed with celebrity gossip, this book will forever change the way you peruse the racks at Bergdorf's or flip through the pages of Vogue.
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February 05, 2007
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Excerpt from Fashion Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones
Today is the morning after the night before, and if I look closely at Alexander's upturned nose I can see that both his nostrils are frosted like a margarita glass. He's been at the jazz. But then we all have. It's the end of another long and exhausting London Fashion Week; how else are we all supposed to remain funny and fabulous without a couple of grams of Bolivia's finest in our Chlo? leather Paddington bags?
Not that we are this morning. Lying flat on his back, fully clothed, clutching an empty bottle of Grey Goose vodka tightly to his chest, Alexander looks like he is barely capable of speech let alone an amusing anecdote or witty quip. And I couldn't feel less fabulous. It was my sixth runway show last night, and lying here, staring at the ceiling of this overpriced hotel suite which we booked ourselves into to carry on the after-show party, I can't help thinking things might not be going my way.
It won't be anything to do with the show. I mean, considering my lack of financial backing, all the time constraints and the fact that two of my stitchers walked out at the last minute, my collection wasn't actually that bad. I'd really gone to town with my tailoring skills. Well, that is my signature. I'm known for my cut. I love it. You can take pounds off people with a well-placed seam. My jackets were tight and short, my skirts skimmed the hips and pinched in the waist, my trousers were wide legged and my shirts had leg-of-mutton sleeves. I'd gone for a nautical theme, with stripes and sailor's hats. Lots of white. I think there was one killer white and silver dress in the show. I was actually quite pleased with the way that it all turned out. It arrived on time and in the right order. I didn't have a moment like one designer did, whose collection, entirely of navy blue, fell off the hangers and all he was left with was a pile of crumpled blue clothes and no idea as to which order to put them in. He apparently then sat on the catwalk and burst into tears saying that he would never design again. But my clothes did arrive. As did the models. A couple were late and a few more were a little worse for wear. They'd been at the champagne early but they were still capable of walking in a straight line; those who weren't had a line to straighten them up. Even the famously flatulent model who guffs her way up and down the runway managed to put a cork in it for my show. Perhaps she'd laid off the beans in my honour. So the smiles were genuine. Even if some were a little rictus. However, on the whole I thought it went well. Everyone made it there and back. No-one keeled over like Naomi Campbell in her heels, the fash pack flocked backstage to pat and preen and pretend, and we all tucked into the booze after the show.
No, the real problem is that my last two shows were deemed hits by the press. Particularly my last Fall collection. Christ, even Anna Wintour liked it. Not that she saw it, of course. She doesn't really do London. We're too small, unimportant and lacking in advertising funds to warrant a visit from Nuclear. She does deign to descend on London Fashion Week occasionally. She is rumoured to be coming next season, but she is always rumoured to be turning up, on her way to Milan and Paris. Much like Madonna is always supposed to be coming to premieres and London fashion parties, so La Wintour is always anticipated and f?ted and never shows. It was, therefore, one of the worker bees from US Vogue who turned up to my last show. Anyway it was deemed hot and happening, on the button, fashion forward enough to have a whole corner of a page in US Vogue. They even included a couple of my blouses and a trapeze coat in the round-ups. Elle magazine ran a feature. Marie Claire asked for an interview. Harper's did a shoot. The Evening Standard gave me a double-page spread, suggesting that I might be the new Roland Mouret. A hack from the Telegraph came to my after-show party.