A soft but thorough take on the life and legacy of the neurotic, brilliant designer. Born in 1936 into a French upper-middle-class family in the Algerian town of Oran, Yves Saint Laurent was a slight, quiet boy tormented by his classmates. As a teenager, he dreamed of designing theater sets, but a fashion design contest in Paris-Match prompted him to submit some sketches; he won third place. In Paris, fate led him to an assistant's position at Dior. The famous designer died unexpectedly in 1957 and Saint Laurent, at the age of 21, became the firm's principal designer. He spent the next several decades shocking and moving the public, shifting hemlines several inches from one season to the next, offering his unorthodox takes on the Beat movement, Pop Art, and hippie culture, mingling elegance and comfort in his designs. Guided by Saint Laurent's tyrannical lover, Pierre BergÇ, the company, despite numerous setbacks, was built into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Saint Laurent's loyal clients included Catherine Deneuve, Bianca Jagger, and Marie-HÇläne Rothschild. Things began to go wrong when, in his early 30s, Saint Laurent became addicted to a variety of drugs; they left him a nervous, strung-out wreck and made him a chronic habituÇ of sanitariums. His collections deteriorated; even a brief resurgence in 1990 could not halt Saint Laurent's withdrawal from the limelight. He is now, the book suggests, largely a recluse. Unfortunately, while Rawsthorn, who has covered fashion and other industries for the Financial Times of London, offers a fact-filled narrative, she never convincingly grasps her subject's personality. She is clearly more comfortable dealing with the world in which Saint Laurent moved, and the great internal changes in the fashion business over the last several decades, than with his character. Yet her study fails to catch the verve and transcendent quality inherent in Saint Laurent's best work. A frustrating and dispassionate study of an enigmatic figure and his glamorous and decadent milieu. (24 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1997

ISBN: 0-385-47645-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1996

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A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.



Photographer and author Stanton returns with a companion volume to Humans of New York (2013), this one with similarly affecting photographs of New Yorkers but also with some tales from his subjects’ mouths.

Readers of the first volume—and followers of the related site on Facebook and elsewhere—will feel immediately at home. The author has continued to photograph the human zoo: folks out in the streets and in the parks, in moods ranging from parade-happy to deep despair. He includes one running feature—“Today in Microfashion,” which shows images of little children dressed up in various arresting ways. He also provides some juxtapositions, images and/or stories that are related somehow. These range from surprising to forced to barely tolerable. One shows a man with a cat on his head and a woman with a large flowered headpiece, another a construction worker proud of his body and, on the facing page, a man in a wheelchair. The emotions course along the entire continuum of human passion: love, broken love, elation, depression, playfulness, argumentativeness, madness, arrogance, humility, pride, frustration, and confusion. We see varieties of the human costume, as well, from formalwear to homeless-wear. A few celebrities appear, President Barack Obama among them. The “stories” range from single-sentence comments and quips and complaints to more lengthy tales (none longer than a couple of pages). People talk about abusive parents, exes, struggles to succeed, addiction and recovery, dramatic failures, and lifelong happiness. Some deliver minirants (a neuroscientist is especially curmudgeonly), and the children often provide the most (often unintended) humor. One little boy with a fishing pole talks about a monster fish. Toward the end, the images seem to lead us toward hope. But then…a final photograph turns the light out once again.

A wondrous mix of races, ages, genders, and social classes, and on virtually every page is a surprise.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05890-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.


A noted critic advises us to dance to the music of art.

Senior art critic at New York Magazine and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism, Saltz (Seeing Out Louder, 2009, etc.) became a writer only after a decadeslong battle with “demons who preached defeat.” Hoping to spare others the struggle that he experienced, he offers ebullient, practical, and wise counsel to those who wonder, “How can I be an artist?” and who “take that leap of faith to rise above the cacophony of external messages and internal fears.” In a slim volume profusely illustrated with works by a wide range of artists, Saltz encourages readers to think, work, and see like an artist. He urges would-be artists to hone their power of perception: “Looking hard isn’t just about looking long; it’s about allowing yourself to be rapt.” Looking hard yields rich sources of visual interest and also illuminates “the mysteries of your taste and eye.” The author urges artists to work consistently and early, “within the first two hours of the day,” before “the pesky demons of daily life” exert their negative influence. Thoughtful exercises underscore his assertions. To get readers thinking about genre and convention, for example, Saltz presents illustrations of nudes by artists including Goya, Matisse, Florine Stettheimer, and Manet. “Forget the subject matter,” he writes, “what is each of these paintings actually saying?” One exercise instructs readers to make a simple drawing and then remake it in an entirely different style: Egyptian, Chinese ink-drawing, cave painting, and the styles of other artists, like Keith Haring and Georgia O’Keeffe. Freely experiment with “different sizes, tools, materials, subjects, anything,” he writes. “Don’t resist something if you’re afraid it’s taking you far afield of your usual direction. That’s the wild animal in you, feeding.” Although much of his advice is pertinent to amateur artists, Saltz also rings in on how to navigate the art world, compose an artist’s statement, deal with rejection, find a community of artists, and beat back demons. Above all, he advises, “Work, Work, Work.”

A succinct, passionate guide to fostering creativity.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-08646-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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