Another great, fun story by Wolff, who is getting stronger and stronger as a storyteller. The writing is solid, but Wolff’s forte is forming bright, vivid female characters who face their troubles head on with passion. A British native, Wolff’s young career women all start off less than resilient but then end up conquering heroes. In this novel, Phoebe starts off by opening her new vintage fashion shop, fresh from a badly broken relationship and the death of her close friend. Through both events and a series of wonderful supporting characters, Phoebe comes into her own (her store being a success doesn’t hurt either!)! In addition to the story and characters, I also enjoyed leaning about vintage haute couture. A must read for chick lit-ters and those who enjoy light, breezy women’s fiction.

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Entertaining book about high NYC society. The late Dunne (he passed away just after finishing this book) really captures the insiders view of society life perfectly, mostly because he was ONE OF THEM. So, the world he is writing about was really his own world. Silly in parts and the ending was too vague for me, mostly I enjoyed this romp through the lives of people I will never be allowed (or, for that matter, want to) socialize with.
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What I know about Haute Couture, I could fit in a shoebox. Maybe that is why I found this film SO fascinating. If I knew more about the lifestyle these people were talking about, maybe I would have been bored. Instead, I was riveted. Could people really be this focused on clothes and shoes and, most shocking of all, accessories? Well, this film and the real characters in it proves that yes, people can be this focused on all areas of fashion. Anna Wintour is the “star” of the film. A British ex-pat who came to New York and the world-renowned Vogue (American VOGUE, that is) from British Vogue and is now Vogue’s editor-in-chief. Wintour is a fierce woman…who can make or break a designer’s career with just the shake of her head. She’s the character the DEVIL in The Devil Wears Prada is based on. She pretty much is the face of the New York fashion scene – simply put…what she says or wants GOES and if she doesn’t want it, it’s gone. More interesting, I thought, was her creative director at Vogue, Grace Coddington, who clashes often with Wintour and always loses (since Anna always gets her way). How Grace copes with her losses and her set-backs at Vogue and still manages to come to work every morning is beyond me. The dynamic between these two independent, strong and very alike and different (at the same time) women is what made this film work for me.

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What was Coco Chanel like before she became the name behind an empire? Was she always interested in fashion? Did she grow up wearing haute couture? Does she know how to sew or is she just the visionary behind the clothing empire? Well, all of these questions, plus many more, will be answered after watching this engaging movie. Coco, born Gabrielle, was abandoned at a young age by her father to an orphanage. From that rocky start, in adulthood, she found herself working as a cabaret dancer at a less-than-respectable bar. There, she meets a man who will change her life…taking her into his life and his home. But, even after her life switches from poverty to affluence, it is not an easy road. The major problem I had with this film is that it moves from her opening a modest but elegant millenary shop (Coco’s start was in making hats for herself and friends, one of whom was well-known stage actress) in Paris to models wearing her designs parading down the runaway. I know that the point of this film must have been her pre-success life, but how she went from hats to evening gowns still mystifies me. That aside, this is a wonderful film that really captures the early essence of this remarkable woman.

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My first trip to Venice was memorable in many ways. But, I will forever remember walking past a Valentino store and just being entranced at what stood in front of me…behind a mere pain of glass. I wanted that dress behind the window. Why? Well, it was simply the most gorgeous material possession I had ever seen. And, after watching the documentary, Valentino: The Last Emperor, I find that I am not alone. There are people the world over that have fallen in love with Valentino’s designs and gift for creating beauty. The man, seen here as a perfectionist and a diva (if that word could be used for any man, it should be used for Valentino), just seems to know what styles, colors, fabric and design will make a woman’s beauty shine. His desire for excellence has paid off for 45 years, during which he has reigned as one of the premier (if not THE premier) woman’s fashion designer in the world. He focuses his designs on ONE thing…evening gowns…and has perfected the elegant, classic and fabulously stylish look. Any woman who possesses any imagination can visualize herself in a Valentino. And, in this movie, you get a little peek at how that international glory has not only been achieved…but been sustained for over four decades. Filmed with less of a history bent and more a “day in the life” spin, the documentary looks at Valentino’s 45th year in fashion…including the anniversary party and fashion show in Rome. His lifestyle, like his work, is the ultimate in style, but would we really expect anything else from someone who creates work that has the ability to transport us to another reality. He can be temperamental, but we expect that. He is demanding, but we understand that (could he really design the dresses he designs and NOT be showy?). He is not always gracious, but we over look that. Why? Because he is Valentino? No…there is more to him than that. As the documentary reveals, he has difficulty expressing his emotions to others, even those who are intimately close with him. We come to realize the reason Valentino is seemingly stingy on giving thanks is because, with his artistic temperament, he has trouble relaying expressions of gratitude. When he does, he gets overcome…he breaks down from all of the appreciation he has for his staff, friends and partner. He is an extravagant man on the outside, but inside, he is a sensitive soul. Anyone who is interested in fashion, interested in design or just plain interested in beauty should see this fascinating documentary.

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The ladies are all back…with their beaus…and they’ve all hit NYC by storm once again. I was never THAT into the show – I had seen an episode here, a clip there – so I was worried if that would effect how I liked the movie. Well, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) does a nice recap in the beginning of the film that pretty much makes sure fans and novices alike are relatively on the same page. And after that, WATCH OUT! It’s a wild ride of emotions, fashion, music, posing, clubbing, love and hate. The major critical complaint about this one has been that it’s too long. But, I would disagree with that, saying that the time passes quickly and there really are never any lulls. Another criticism I’ve heard is that it’s shallow. HELLO! The TV series was shallow! So, did we really expect the movie to become this deep, philosophical study? We would not go see something like that, but we would see this…something fun and light. This is not a heavy movie. It’s a good movie for girlfriends to see together and compare notes about after. It’s not going to come up on Oscar night (except maybe for costumes!). It’s fun. Just like the show was. We really wouldn’t have wanted them to change anything, did we?

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