Ellis (The Only Sin, Rich Is Best, etc.) continues her frontal attack on the dynasticsaga genre with stultifying lists of 40's brand names (Toni permanents, Tangee lipstick, the Sears-Roebuck catalogue) and, here, with four friends as main characters. Vanessa Conrad is beautiful, slim and, like other Ellis heroines, marginally Jewish. It's 1942, and she's living in Pinewood, New York, with a detestable mother who demands full financial support the moment Vanessa graduates from high school. And so off goes Vanessa to New York City with her best friend, Tina, to find a job. Vanessa, who gets hired into a typing pool, has been devouring Vogue for years and dreams of becoming a dress-designer, while Tina, similarly employed, would give anything to become a movie star. Meanwhile, two Houston socialites from a neighboring Upper West Side apartment befriend the Pinewood refugees, and also become linchpins in the story. One of them, Pat, goes on to marry a sadistic congressman and have a fratricidal daughter, CeeCee, a clone of Andy Warhol's superstar, Edie Sedgwick, complete with an Edie-like history of drug abuse and premature death. By this time, Vanessa has actually become an exclusive, famous designer; she has also loved, lost, reproduced (a noble daughter who marches in Vietnam rallies and later starts her own design firm) and become very, very rich. Tina, for her part, has risen to become a fabulous movie star. At almost 50, Vanessa reflects that life has just begun, despite the old ""Velvet Bondage"" (i.e., her hopeless addiction to the rag trade). More of the routine same--and flat and dull all the way.