DESIGNS by James Brady

DESIGNS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A high-spirited but formulaic roman à clef about the treacherous world of high fashion, from the author of The Press Lord, Holy Wars, etc. It's at the silk and champagne funeral of the legendary Coco Chanel that Marc Street--a garment-house owner and a racketeer's son from New York's HeWs Kitchen--encounters a young and ambitious gay designer whose life's goal is to join the ranks of those known by one name alone: Liz, Halston, Jackie, and. . .Adam. Street and Adam join forces, parlaying Street's penchant for sharp deals and Adam's flair for elegant lines into a multimillion-dollar fashion empire. Along the way Street tumbles in love with the coltish Chelsea West, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, while Adam (in a series of surprisingly tame scenes of degradation) falls prey to a gallery of parasites, toadies, and Lady Cocaine. When Street invites Chelsea to be the firm's second designer, an embittered Adam bolts to the ranks of cosmetics king Stanley Baltimore, a blackguard who takes his pleasure in pubescent models, preferably two at a time. Eventually, through underhanded machinations worthy of a Borgia, Baltimore engineers Street's ruin. By tossing in every possible personal disaster from accusations of pederasty to AIDS, Brady manages to generate substantial narrative tension. He embroiders his story with scores of real-life characters, from Johnny Carson and Francois Truffaut and Richard Nixon (""shaking his wattles"" at La Cirque) to the perpetually hottest item of all, Jackie O., then underpins each scene from his encyclopedic knowledge of innocuous fashion-world gossip. And stitches together, in the end, a serviceable tale, no designer original but colorful enough as potboilers go.

Pub Date: Oct. 3rd, 1986
Publisher: Crown