“Thomas Fails”! Two words mentioned time and again by Fashion’s most reputable critics. The New York Times’ wrote: “Thomas fails to give them their due, relying instead on a predictable analysis of their influence and the causes of their self-destruction”. Alexander Furry mentions: “She seems determined to undermine not only the legacy of McQueen and Galliano, but the entire fashion world, to prick its entitled, elitist bubble and expose that it’s nothing but hot air”. Colin McDowell noted: “Indeed, almost as if she forgot that a good biographer must strive for a balanced argument, Thomas takes a much tougher line with Galliano than with McQueen”. Does Dana Thomas’ Gods and Kings really deserve all that backlash?
When I first knew about Gods and Kings’ released, I intuitively ordered a copy before reading any reviews. Being a hardcore fan of both designers – an impatient one – I had to read at least something about its content and this is when I was faced by the many strong opinionated articles, so harsh that some even felt personal. After a long wait the book arrived, I read along waiting for that moment of disappointment every article mentioned…It never came! I really couldn’t see where Thomas could have failed or where she could have dismissed the talents of McQueen and Galliano. The book was everything I expected it to be and even more, this is why I am breaking down the 5 reasons why Gods and Kings is a must read:
1. It is not another E!-True Hollywood story:
The book is not a general parallel overview about two artist that happen to be celebrities. It tackles, Galliano and McQueen’s struggles, emotions, skills, aspirations, thoughts and ambitions. The book takes you through the different layers of their lives, revealing personal details with the sole purpose of giving the reader a better understanding of their journeys.
2. It is not just about Fashion:
Manny fashion writers built their focus on designers, their work and their shows and take less interest in the corporate side of this business. In the fashion industry, designers might be the engine but those wearing the suits are the steering wheel. For designers as big as McQueen and Galliano, understanding the business of fashion becomes a necessity. From Arnault to Pinault and from the retailers to the distributors, Dana Thomas explains how the business really works, how a runway piece can end up in your closet – connecting point A to point Z. For people thinking in joining the industry, this book will definitely give you the overview you need.
3. It is not one-dimensional:
Contrary to most critics, the book pushes storytelling to its limits, bridging historical events with contemporary fashion and fashion business. The book sums up two important decades in fashion adding to it, hints and dashes of historical events that brought better understanding to the reader. Not to forget the wonderful flashbacks to McQueen and Galliano’s fashion shows since their first St. Martins debut. To briefly describe it, this book is simply the history lesson one actually wants to attend.
4. It is not selfish:
Gibran Khalil Gibran once said “behind every great man is a woman” and I would say behind every great designer lies a team! Gods & Kings is definitely the book to know the who’s who of fashion – the right hand deputies – their support and the role they played in their lives. From Joyce McQueen to Amanda Harlech and form Steven Robinson to Isabella Blow, Dana Thomas reveals the designers’ best and long time supporters – people who were relatively unknown to the world’s more casual circles.
5. Its about two of fashion’s greatest designers:
Fashion went through a big change during the past years – from privately owned companies into multimillion enterprises. Designers stepped into the spotlight of stardom, McQueen and Galliano became the Elvis and the Michael of fashion… The God and the King of fashion. A double biography about two of fashion’s greatest pioneers is definitely a must read!
Its is said, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” for Gods and Kings I would say, don’t judge a book by its negative reviews. This book is definitely worth a read; Emotional, enlightening and resourceful! Dana Thomas has definitely portrayed the characters as objectively as possible, bringing to readers stimulating facts of the worlds most interesting circles.