Designers are great white sharks, and we roam the waters ourselves. We often pretend to like and admire each other, but sometimes we don't even bother to fake it. The fashion industry is as hardworking, incestuous, and political as any other, and it's virtually impossible, given the size of designers' egos, to sincerely wish someone else well, because behind every false tribute is 'It should have been me.'
So writes Joseph Abboud, who fell in love with style at five. There in the dark of the movie house, he wasn't just some Lebanese kid with a babysitter. He was the hero, in tweeds and pocket squares. That's where he learned that clothes represented a better life a life he wanted, and would grab, for himself. From his blue-collar childhood in Boston's South End to his spread-collar success as one of America's top designers, he has forged a remarkable path through the unglamorous business of making people look glamorous.
He transformed American menswear by replacing the traditional stiff-shouldered silhouette with a grown-up European sensuality. He was the first designer to win the coveted CFDA award as Best Menswear Designer two years in a row and the first designer to throw out the opening pitch at Fenway Park. He's been jilted by Naomi Campbell (who didn't show up on the runway for his first women's fashion show) and questioned by the FBI (who did show up in his office right after September 11 because he fit the profile). He's soared and sunk more than a few times and lived to tell the tales.
Threads is his off-the-record take on fashion, from the inside out. With breezy irreverence, he looks at guys and taste, divas and deviousness, fabric and texture, and all those ties. He takes us to the luxe bastion of Louis Boston, where he came of age and learned the trade, and to the seductive domain of Polo Ralph Lauren, where he became associate director of menswear design. He reveals the mystique of department-store politics, what's what at the sample sale, and who copies whom. He explains the process of making great clothes, from conception and sketch to manufacturing and marketing.
Whether he's traveling by daredevil horse, plunging plane, Paris Metro, or cross-country limo, Abboud is an illuminating guide to a complex world."
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Threads One of America's top menswear designers weaves a gossipy tell-all about how the fashion business really works--stitch by stitch, snitch by snitch, from the inside out. Full descriptionReview:
A lively, confident memoir seriously explores the realities of the fashion industry, leavening its nuts-and-bolts acumen with personal warmth and just enough of the trade's time-tested potshots. Although not neatly divided, Threads does contain two basic strands. The first presents the fruits of the well-regarded designer's wisdom after more than 30 years in the fashion business. Abboud starts at ground level, with the feel of fabric, "the beginning, the heart, the essence of my clothes." There is nothing airy about his opinions: he explains just how a knobby knit or one as smooth as cashmere fits into his designs, how each and every one takes its meaningful place in that season's line, be they primitive patterns or ethnic textures. He talks about how to coax a mill to produce the exact shade you want. And if Abboud is known for anything (other than being a few gratifying steps left of Ralph Lauren), it is the qualities of his earth tones: dusty and melancholy, smoky or veiled. He also offers quality advice on such nitty-gritty issues as how fashion schools should integrate business elements into their curriculum and how to pick models for a show. The second narrative strand unfolds, at reasonable length, the Lebanese author's personal journey through the fashion world. He paid his dues in an almost feudal manner, working his way from the floor to the coveted position of designer. For each step, he offers words to the wise (don't trust your friends, be aware of the importance of trunk shows), and throws a host of caltrops into the path of the self-important: " . . . he was more Calvin than Calvin, which must have had an interesting effect on Calvin," or, "I hate pony tails on guys." Excuse me? Would that be . . . Mr. Lagerfeld? Ought to be required reading for anyone looking to buy a suit or a tie-or, for that matter, a workshirt. (16-page color insert, not seen) (Kirkus Reviews)
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