My Thoughts — Robin Givhan’s “The Battle of Versailles

As a general rule I tend to read a lot of techno-thrillers, westerns, or detective novels.

The other night I was in the Newark Public Library in Delaware and wanted to branch out and try something a bit different.

I picked up versailes: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History.” Like I said way outside my usual comfort zone.

If you could see me right now, I’m sitting in a blue and red flannel shirt, blue dirty Levis, a pair of Saucony running shoes that have seen better days, with an old Loving Spoonful album on the turntable – I’m not sure what is more telling the album or the turntable.

I’m glad I let the books cover stop me and I gave it a second look.

It is as interesting a read that I’ve ever stumbled upon.

Givhan brings the characters to life with precise prose and great story. From Bill Blass, to Anne Klein, to Stephen Burrows, to Oscar De La Renta, to Roy Hlaston, Givhan gives the kind of history to make one rethink preconceptions and develop respect for a misunderstood art form (at least by me). Like I said, I’m no fashion plate.

It all makes me think though. I wonder if today’s wonder kids like Kanye West and the rest of the savvy marketers – most decidedly not designers – understand the torturous roads these Americans travelled in 1973. The designers in Givhan’s book work long hours, developed new fashions, and did the hard work of developing relationships, and painstakingly producing clothes (dare I say art) to move their visions forward.

Anyway, it is a whale of a read and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to try something completely different.

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2 thoughts on “My Thoughts — Robin Givhan’s “The Battle of Versailles

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