Even if you are not familiar with the name, you have probably read some of Holly Brubach’s writing. Over the years she’s written for The New Yorker, Vogue, and The Atlantic, along with being style editor at the New York Times Magazine. You can currently find her writing for W, with a new article that questions whether or not New York City really is the center of the universe.
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion is actually a collection of essays, all of which were written in the 1980s and early 1990s. And though they are about the fashion of the time in which they were written, most of the essays still ring true today. That’s because the essays are not so much about fashion as they are about how people relate to and use clothing. In questioning why so many women of the 1980s ended up wearing over-the-top fluffy wedding gowns, Brubach mused, “A bride, to my mind, should be dressed not as someone she has never been before and will never be again but in keeping with the woman she has been and is and will continue to be, and, as it turns out, this requires a lot more imagination.”
To me,what really makes Brubach’s writing so interesting is that she has a through knowledge of fashion history, and uses that knowledge liberally to stress her point. Young bloggers take note: excellent fashion writing must reference the past, and those who do not know their history and miss the obvious end up looking like they don’t know their profession. (It’s sort of like the “I wasn’t born in the 70s so I can’t be expected to know about the clothes of the 70s,” type nonsense we were subjected to on last week’s episode of Project Runway.)
Given that some of the essays are approaching 30 years of age, its also interesting to look at them knowing what we know now. She writes of Karl Lagerfeld in his early days at Chanel, before he was “The Kaiser”, that he had to “soup up” Chanel’s message, and by doing so he undermined it. It’s enough to make one search for images for the 1980s Chanel collections, to refresh the memory of those days of the super short, super sexy Chanel suit!