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A personal style guide for women by a style arbiter offers counsel on how to break free from retail-dictated choices and how to use fashion to convey individual style, mood, and personality.
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Simon Doonan is the bestselling author of Wacky Chicks and Confessions of a Window Dresser. In addition to his role as creative director of Barneys New York, Simon writes the "Simon Says" column for The New York Observer. He frequently contributes observations and opinions to myriad other publications and television shows. He is a regular commentator on VH1, the Trio network, and Full Frontal Fashion. He lives in New York City with his partner, Jonathan Adler, and his Norwich terrier, Liberace.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Why the hell wouldn't you want to be one of the fabulous people, the life enhancers, the people who look interesting and smell luscious and who dare to be gorgeously more fascinating than their neighbors?
I recently left my apartment dressed as Queen Elizabeth II. Not queen as in corgis and tweed skirts, but queen as in decked out like a giant flashing Christmas tree on the occasion of some totally major state dinner. Accessories? Just a few: long white gloves, two rhinestone necklaces, eleven bracelets, three brooches, six rings, a sash, two dangly earrings, three medals, a hubcap-sized tiara, and a giant pair of bifocals.
As I rode down in the elevator on that sunny spring Saturday afternoon, I braced myself for the inevitable catcalls and vulgar badinage that common sense told me would erupt as soon as I appeared in the busy lobby of my Greenwich Village apartment building. Hopefully I would be able to hail a cab and flee before some random passerby elected to throw a half-eaten Big Mac at Her Majesty.
Why, you may well ask, had I made myself vulnerable to public humiliation in such a specific manner? All such questions will be answered when you read Chapter 12 of the style manifesto which you are holding in your hot little hands. For the moment, I would like to stay focused on the specific sequenceof events that was about to occur.
Ping. The doors opened. I began to traverse the carpeted lobby deploying the measured, flat-footed gate of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which is very easy to imitate but nonetheless won Helen Mirren an Oscar, and might have done the same for me had I been given a crack at the role.
My doorman approached. I dropped my front door key into my white purse, clicked it shut and tried to look regal. I waved. He did not wave back.
He came out from behind his little desk and blocked my path.
I looked at him. He looked at my tits. I looked at his eyes looking at my tits. My tiara flashed in the afternoon sunlight, causing him to wince.
I stood my ground and returned his stare.
It was hard to get a read on his expression. Was he about to call the co-op board? Had he already pressed a concealed button summoning men in white coats from Bellevue?
Finally he spoke. "Do you want your mail now," he asked, "or when you come back?"
(Abrupt cessation of crickets.)
I was too stunned to respond.
I was completely overcome by the profound, global, philosophical, and far-reaching signficance of this surreal little moment and the thunderbolt of immediate but deep understanding it had afforded me.
In an instant I understood the utter pointlessness of ever being self-conscious, the utter pointlessness of restraint or "good taste," the utter pointlessness of not having fun with one's personal style. I had left my apartment dressed as the reigning monarch of my birthplace, and my doorman seemed not even to have noticed. I now understood the futility of a life spent asking, "Does my bum look big in this?" Clearer than ever, I saw the pointlessness of a life lived without a dab of daring panache. I understood the role of eccentric glamour.
Create it. Grab it. Feel it. Be it, and do so knowing that, even if you walk down the street wearing a gold leotard with your lesbian aunt Sylvia's mauve nylon fanny pack cinching your midriff, nobody is judging you. Some people may not even notice you. Most people will be enjoying you.
Eccentric glamour is your birthright and that of every woman -- and a man or two. Claim it! Own it! As a glamorous eccentric you have carte blanche to do whatever the hell you want. Experiment! If I can leave my apartment in full queen drag and barely raise an eyebrow, then surely you are free to make a complete spectacle of yourself in any manner you see fit.
What is eccentric glamour?
Let me answer that question with another question: What is glamour?
Glamour is that mysterious, shimmering you-know-it-when-you-see-it quality that surrounds those who stand out from the crowd. A wicked combo of cheeky attitude and stylistic innovation, real glamour is always exhilarating and never pedestrian.
One way to get to the heart of the matter is to dissect four contemporary pairings: Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, Paris and Nicole, Posh and Becks, and Miss Piggy and Kermit.
Has gobs of glamour: Bill Clinton, Nicole Ritchie, David Beckham and Miss Piggy.
Has less glamour than partner: Hillary Clinton, Paris Hilton, Victoria Beckham, and Kermit.
As is immediately apparent from my analysis, glamour is inextricably bound up with intelligence, humor, and/or accomplishment. Bill and Nicole win out over Hillary and Paris because they are smarter and more fun. David Beckham radiates more glamour than his missus because of his godlike athletic prowess. Miss Piggy and Kermit? Sometimes all you need is a few French phrases and an unassailable belief in your own innate fabulousness.
And what about eccentric glamour?
Eccentric glamour -- Miss Piggy is, by the way, the overall winner in this category -- is an invigorating mixture of the expected and the unexpected, the habitual with the kooky, the constant and the kapow!
The basic elements of your personal style are important. Let's call them your style constants. Whether it's a glossy jet-black ponytail, a saucy beauty mark, a nuclear explosion of natural red curls, or a penchant for livid green tango shoes, every gal needs a repertoire of well-chosen style constants. Simultaneously communicating and defining your unique identity, these signature flourishes are your own personal station identification. Unaffected by fleeting trends or the whims of fashion, your style constants are the glamorous foundations that will remain with you through thick and thin (literally and figuratively).
So where does the eccentricity come in?
Now take your style constants -- those unique gestures which your fans and friends have come to associate so strongly with you -- and punctuate them with a spontaneous gesture, a jolt of the unexpected, a rhinestone bucket bag, a pair of mariachi slacks, a vintage Pucci poncho. Et voilà! Eccentric glamour is the happy result.
Do today's celebs possess eccentric glamour? The answer is, for the most part, a giant, resounding no! Red-carpet glamour is, as I will prove to you repeatedly in the upcoming pages, the antithesis of eccentric glamour. Hiring a stylist who scrounges free frocks on your behalf from top designers does not really qualify as "creative expression." And today's celebs are, for the most part, much too chicken, too risk averse, too scared of that what-were-they-thinking page in Star magazine to indulge in eccentric glamour. Naughty, boring, conformist celebs!
As must already be apparent, the book you are clutching is by no means a typical style advice book. There are no before-and-afterpictures or snappy lists or kicky bullet points. My methods are circumlocutive, to say the least.
On the following pages you will find a mixture of cultural commentary and personal disclosure, generously seasoned with gushings of wildly dictatorial and reckless style advice. Caution: These provocative tips should not be followed like a recipe. Developing a sense of eccentric glamour means taking your own path. My role is to mix up the signposts and start you on your journey.
Not sure which direction to take? No problem. As you will see in Chapter 1, I have invented a whole new system to guide your through the labyrinth of stylistic self-discovery. According to my theory, there are three types of glamorous eccentric: the Socialite, the Existentialist, and the Gypsy. In these three broad and inclusive categories you will find your eccentrically more glamorous self, you will find the means for self-reinvention, you will find the wherewithal to say no to ho! and resist the tidal wave of porno chic that threatens to engulf Western civilization.
In addition, these pages are liberally, randomly, and spontaneously larded with autobiographical humiliations and obsessions, including, but not limited to, my obsession with jazzercize and my forays into celebrity impersonation. It is my sincere wish that these tales from my own grody-to-szhooshy odyssey will entertain you as you undertake yours. For additional inspiration, my scribblings are evenly sprinkled with one-on-oneinterviews with some the world's most glamorous eccentrics, not including Isabella Blow. This legendary, deceased fashion muse is honored in a postscript musing.
Those of you who have enjoyed stories about my early years in my New York Observer columns and previous books will be happy to know that the dramatis personae of my wacky childhood -- key figures in the evolution of my beliefs regarding eccentric glamour -- are omnipresent.
"A life of eccentric glamour seems like a lot of hard work," I already hear you kvetch. Good point. Why not wear a muumuu and flip-flops, grab a bag of Doritos, and watch the parade from the sidelines?
First, evolving your own brand of eccentric glamour is good for your psyche. Knowing who you really are and dressing the part -- with an air of amused recklessness -- is life affirming for you and life enhancing for other people. When the eccentrically glamorous you walks down the street, whether you are a wiry Italian greyhound or a lovable lumbering labradoodle, you will feel gorgeously empowered and you will fill your neighborhood and workplace with positive vibrations. Think of it as a civic duty of sorts.
Second, it's creatively fulfilling. Constructing and designing a glamorously eccentric you means understanding and magnifying the core of your individuality. Your clothing represents a challenging and groovy canvas for self-expression. While the typical TV boobs 'n' Botox 'n' bleach makeovers force every woman to look the same -- see The Real Housewives of Orange County -- the transformations I strive to provoke in this book are the very opposite. Honing your style constants, developing a glamorously eccentric look is a creatively and psychologically satisfying proc...
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Book Description Simon & Schuster. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1416535438 . Seller Inventory # Z1416535438ZN
Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2008. Hardcover. Condition: New. Brand New Hardcover! Pristine unmarked pages, no remainder marks, great buy straight from warehouse unread, sealed in plastic, exact artwork as listed, Seller Inventory # 045171029002
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Book Description Simon & Schuster, U.S.A., 2008. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. Simon Doonan's ECCENTRIC GLAMOUR is intended as an antidote to the epidemic of slutty dressing and porno-chic which has taken over since the arrival of Paris Hilton and Tara Reid. In Simon's utopian world, conformity is the only crime and dressing down is the only faux-pas. Doonan believes that eccentric glamour is every woman's birthright. While the typical TV boobs 'n' botox make-overs force Everywoman to look the same - exhibit A: "The Real Housewives of Orange County" - the transformations which he strives to provoke in this book are the very opposite. Developing a glamorously eccentric style involves revealing and magnifying everything which is distinctive and idiosyncratic about you. This book is by no means a typical style advice manual. In ECCENTRIC GLAMOUR you will find a unique mixture of cultural commentary and personal disclosure, generously seasoned with gushings of wildly dictatorial, provocative and reckless style advice and evenly sprinkled with one-on-one interviews with some the World's most glamorous eccentrics, including Iman, Lucy Liu, Tilda Swinton, Malcolm Gladwell, Chloe Sevigny, and Dita Von Teese. Seller Inventory # 004703
Book Description Simon & Schuster, 2008. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P111416535438
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