The essayist, critic, novelist, and former editor-in-chief of Paris Vogue reflects on the triumphs and excesses of her fashionable past.
As the only child of celebrated parents, Buck (Daughter of the Swan, 1987, etc.) enjoyed a privileged upbringing among many of the 20th century’s more notable celebrities. Her father, Jules Buck, was a Hollywood producer perhaps best known for helping to launch Peter O’Toole’s early film career. In sometimes-meandering detail, the author relives her restless years as she established an esteemed reputation as a writer and authority on fashion and culture. There’s some excessive name-dropping as Buck references numerous Hollywood and fashion elites in quick succession, yet rarely does she pause for many of these individuals—e.g., Donald Sutherland and Brian De Palma—to spring to life on these pages. Throughout the book, the author explores her complicated and evolving relationship with her parents. Her father, in particular, asserted a domineering influence even as his increasingly erratic behavior in later years weighed on her existence as a burden—but also a reliable touchstone. Buck’s narrative gathers focus and momentum when she lands the Vogue position in her late 40s. Within these chapters, she provides acute, illuminating observations on the challenges of running a fashion magazine and of the pretensions of the industry. Her description of Susan Train, Vogue’s Paris bureau chief, provides an uncompromising glimpse into this world: “She fielded the daily telexes from New York demanding a dress, a photographer, a model, a star, a location, a car, a different car, a different dress, a chateau instead of a house, not that chateau, the other chateau, visas for Yemen, customs declarations, tissue paper, dangerous wildlife, rare flowers, rarer flowers, bushes, buds, trees, photogenic children of impeccable pedigree. She flawlessly navigated the chasms of rage that roiled in the heart of every fashion player. Even the messengers were touchy.”
An overlong but relentlessly candid and often absorbing account of a complex life spent in and out of the fashion spotlight.