Champagne Supernovas

Opening with the quote from Nicolas Ghesquière, designer, 2013 “Trash is future luxury” “Champagne Supernovas: Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, Kate Moss and the 90’s renegades who remade fashion” explores all the dirty corners of the trashy 90’s through the lives of the iconic Marc Jacobs; Alexander McQueen and Kate Moss.

Callahan points to 1992 as the turning point for the new tone of the decade, the braking of the amazonian like beauty paradigm established strongly in the 80’s and the rise of new stars in the fashion design industry

That was the year a scrawny, short, flat-chested unknown named Kate Moss was signed as the face of Calvin Klein (...) Alexander McQueen, a pudgy vulgarian from the East London projects, showed his thesis collection at Central Saint Martins, London’s famed design school. He called it “Jack the Ripper Stalks his Victims,” (...) Marc Jacobs, three years into his job as VP of design at Perry Ellis, got an unusual phone call
— Callahan

The author uses parallel narratives to explore the humble beginnings, early careers and breaking points of each icon with the common thread of fashion, madness, drug abuse and psychological struggle.

The stars and their demons; Marc Jacobs through his darkest years emotionally but the pinnacle of his design career for Louis Vuitton. McQueen, the bad boy of fashion confronting his dirtiest corners while redefining beauty without finding his own. It remains interesting to be able to think about Kate Moss before all the fame, her attributes and natural edgy style which reminds us to date and how she challenges the aesthetics of the time but how now there is absolute certainty of her iconic beauty as if we completely forgot it was socially constructed and fought against. This book explores the most human aspects of these three geniuses.

About the Author: Maureen Callahan has worked as an editor and writer for Vanity Fair, New York magazine, Spin, the New York Post between others, this is why the tone of the book has a magazine like quality with a hint of bittersweet. Her book explores the three iconic figures with the force and influence to change the history of fashion and culture but it also reveals very intimate and fragile aspects of each character with in-depth interviews and rich imagery.

Favourite chapter: 18 “It’s the girl, not the clothes” when Marc Jacobs has his ground breaking epiphany to rescue him from creative depression at LVMH and help to re-shape the fashion industry thereafter.

Favourite quote: “Those skinny fashion bitches in the front row” Alexander McQueen by Simon Costin, also the title of one of the chapters.

This book is a perfect brunch companion, the cover design by Anneka Sandher is Instagram worthy. I mostly recommend it as a Winter/Spring read, the stories are dark but it leaves you with a phoenix energy perfect for the change of seasons. Feel free to accompany with a flute of your favourite sparkly.  

Book info: Champagne Supernovas, Maureen Callahan, UK, Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2014, A CBS COMPANY, 262 pages, 42 full colour selection of photos from Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen & Kate Moss, price, ISBN: 978-1-47113-698-6 / ISBN (Trade Paperback) 978-1-47113-787-7 / ISBN (ebook) 978-1-47113-700-6

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Fashion Sociologist