Edita reads | Mario Valentino by Ornella Cirillo

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Mario Valentino book review

Is Mario Valentino THE Valentino? You know, Valentino Valentino. Or is he a different Valentino? Is he maybe a rip-off Valentino? Or is he the Valentino from the catwalks? Also, what is this Valentino by Mario Valentino? If it’s Valentino Valentino, how come it’s so cheap?

These are legit questions, everyone.

Consumers are struggling to know the difference between Mario Valentino and Valentino Garavani. One of the reasons for this is that Valentino Garavani has become THE brand on par with Chanel, Dior, Gucci and Prada in terms of desirability, while Mario Valentino has become… forgotten. A catastrophe for a designer who reinvented the stiletto, pushed leather craftsmanship to new heights, worked with names such as Versace and Ferragamo, and actually started his business way before Valentino. The latter being the brand of the bag you’d want to own today.

Mario Valentino was born in Naples and took over the shoe business his father started building. Known already for their craftsmanship, the family-owned business had commissions from royalty, celebrities – even Jackie O’ was partial to a pair of Mario Valentinos. At the peak of the designer’s career, not only supermodels including Naomi and Verushka were wearing his stilettos, Helmut Newton was photographing his high-heeled shoes, bringing to us something we all now refer to as shoe porn. For Mario, it all started with a coral sandal concept that has landed his design the cover of Vogue, shared with a Cartier high jewellery piece. International fame followed which allowed the design house to explore connections between art and fashion. Besides, even the likes of Andy Warhol were keen on Mario Valentino leather goods. Andy’d look damn good in a pair of beautiful shoes as he’d walk through The Factory.

Mario passed away in 1991. In some way, so did the unique selling point of the design house. The business was left to the family but not much else is now known about the brand. The interest has come back ever so slightly about Mario Valentino as a lot of bags have started popping up with a Valentino logo, leaving consumers confused yet hopeful that they were buying a Valentino Garavani bag for a scandalously cheap price.

But alas.

The aforementioned low-cost bags are something of a revival of the Mario Valentino brand. Some would argue that it is a poor attempt at banking on confusing consumers and leading them to purchase goods with a hope they are something the are not. A sad, sad state of affairs considering Mario Valentino is a genuine legend when it comes to leather craftsmanship and innovation.

But it’s not all bad news – keen-eyed vintage lovers may be able to find a Mario Valentino gem in vintage outlets. If you are not that lucky, don’t worry, the book photographed for this review is a celebration of the Mario Valentino brand, complete with artistic references, sketches, Helmut Newton photography and quotes from Mario himself.

For fashion lovers, fashion historians and fans of Mario Valentino this book is a must-have. It’s a biography, diary, and most importantly a well-researched bible of Mario’s work. It celebrates the rise, and allows us space to discover the fall for ourselves. When it comes to Mario Valentino, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Get your copy of Mario Valentino: A History of Fashion, Design and Art by Ornella Cirillo here.

Edita reads | Edie: Girl On Fire By Melissa Painter And David Weisman

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Edie’s life was a dream. In the end she just had to wake up. I genuinely have no other way of describing it.

If you are interested in the life and times of Edith Minturn Sedgwick, you won’t want to miss this tome purely for the photographs, some seen before, others – never. My edition came with an audio of Edie’s voice where she described her Factory Days and spoke about life as she saw it. Most of these you’ve probably heard if you’ve seen Ciao! Manhattan (1972).

The book doesn’t really have a bio or a narrative. Instead, it is a collection of quotes from Edie and about Edie. It’s just mesmerising to see how fondly her friends remember her. Their quotes make her into a mythological creature, a fairy, certainly not of this world. She must have been quite the presence.

Edie Sedgwick was an American socialite whose notoriety rose to fame in the 60s. She became Warhol’s first superstar and the first “it” girl. Many claim that it was her who coined the phrase about everyone having 15 minutes of fame in the future that Andy Warhol is currently credited for.

The pair collaborated on a number of projects including a series of photography and underground films, the most popular of which was Poor Little Rich Girl where Warhol follows Edie as she gets ready, puts clothes and make up on while talking to the camera. Call it the first reality show of its kind.

I’d make a mask out of my face because I didn’t realise I was quite beautiful. I had to wear heavy black eyelashes like bat wings and dark lines under my eyes. Cut all my hair off, my long dark hair, cut it off and sprayed it silver and blond. All these little manoeuvres I did out of things that were happening in my life that upset me. I’d freak out in a very physical way, and it was all taken as a fashion trend.
– Edie Sedgwick

Edie died at a devastatingly young age of 28 due to a barbiturate overdose. After a lifetime of partying, forced time in mental institutions, family tragedies (alleged fear of her father, Fuzzy, deaths and suicides of her siblings) as well as incomprehensibly epic drug abuse, Edie just stopped breathing one night.

Just stopped.

I would like to finish this article, giving Edie the last word. I think it was her devil-may-care, completely anti-fashion attitude that made her into a style icon celebrated to this day.

Fashion as a whole is a farce, completely. The people behind it are perverted, the styles are created by freaked out people, just natural weirdos.
– Edie Sedgwick

You can get a copy of Edie: Girl on Fire here.

Edita reads | Brooklyn Street Style By Shawn Dahl And Anya Sacharow

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Brooklyn Street Style: The No-Rules Guide to Fashion by Shawn Dahl and Anya Sacharow is not really a book about Brooklyn and its style icons. No. It is a book about you, the reader. It is about how you see the world and how you interpret style.

This paperback is a salad made of the most delicious stylish Brooklynites with a very cosmopolitan seasoning. You will see a variety of styles influenced by different countries and ethnic backgrounds starting with Kenya, India and ending with Poland and Russia as well as everything in-between.

One of my favourite quotes from Brooklyn Street Style is by Jenn Rogien, the costume designer of the popular HBO series, Girls:

It’s hard to describe Brooklyn style because as soon as you come up with a way of describing it, it’s moved to something else. It’s constantly evolving.

Much like the other book I reviewed, Paris Street Style: Shoes, this is an easy breezy read that is designed to inject positivity into your life. Brooklyn Street Style does it beautifully: The colours, the eccentricity, the down-to-earth, human approach to fashion – all of these aspects get the reader’s endorphin levels up.

Suddenly, style is not something only grand couturiers can dictate, it is something that you, yourself, can participate in the creation of, just like the inspiring icons in this book.  Think of Brooklyn Street Style as fashion caffeine. Within five minutes your pupils will widen, your heart will start beating faster as your mind puts together a few new looks to try out this week.

This is why Brooklyn Street Style is about you, the reader. It’s about the outfit you’ll wear after you put this book down. It’s about how you’re going to feel wearing it. And most importantly, it’s about you being happy in your own skin.

A huge thank you to Abrams & Chronicle Books for my copy. You can get one here.

Edita reads | Alexander McQueen – Genius of a Generation By Kristin Knox

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I’m gonna tell you something you don’t want to hear
I’m gonna show you where it’s dark, but have no fear.

– Kavinsky – Nightcall

I really wanted to write about the Savage Beauty exhibit at the V&A for a while now. It was equally important for me to honour the museum’s requirement for no photography. Considering the amount of people watching the Alexander McQueen exhibition, I don’t actually think it would be possible to make any good-angled photos in any case. Still, all the thoughts and feelings started to hoard in my head – a release was vitally necessary.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine gave me a fantastic book on the late designer – Alexander McQueen: Genius of the Generation by Kristin Knox. Coincidentally the book carries the same sentiment as the Savage Beauty exhibit, so combining the two was in the stars. I call it emotional fashion. McQueen’s designs provoke you to feel. It’s you and Lee against the world, the rest does not matter. The fact that the rest doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter either.

McQueen’s designs emphasised an art-or-die aesthetic and that’s what I’ve always loved about his work. Theatre, fine arts, literature as well as historic, traditional craft and metalwork – all of it has a home in McQueen’s creations. It’s art that touches the soul and fashion that makes one honoured to be the owner of a piece by Alexander McQueen. It’s an emotional whirlwind and you are no bystander, not even a mere participant. You are at the epicentre of it all, the culmination point, the reason. You, the viewer, not even the wearer, play the hugest role in McQueen’s fashion.

Some designers design clothes to wear, McQueen created clothes to watch. With our mouths open and without uttering a word. The fear of beauty. Savage, captivating, all-conquering, mind-enslaving beauty.

Edita reports | Alexa Chung’s It Paperback Launch

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“Do not leave until they kick you out. The later it gets, the better it gets.”
Alexa Chung – It*
To know a person doesn’t actually mean to know trivial or biographical facts about them, it is to observe how they make you feel when they enter the room. That’s what I have been keen to see during the It paperback book launch with Alexa Chung.

When Alexa and Alexandra Shulman of British Vogue entered the lecture theatre, suddenly the grande, historical interior transformed into a cosy living room. I got so comfortable, I almost found myself resting my feet on the head of the gentleman in front of me (it’s not that you have a comfy-looking head, sir, it’s just that I started feeling extremely relaxed. Forgive me?). I was moments away from asking my boyfriend to pass me the beer, only to snap out of it and realise that it was the V&A lecture hall I was at and it wasn’t a onesie I was wearing, but vintage Dior. My boyfriend wasn’t there either, I was sitting next to a lovely girl who probably ended up thinking I was some sort of weirdo. Oh well.

That’s how Alexa Chung made me feel.

Cool and collected, in a stunning dusty pink Emilia Wickstead (I wanted to match my book) and “knuhhag bropfffeeeee something” shoes, Alexa spoke about her life in the spotlight and what happens when the lights dim.

It – is it it or is it not?

I love a good coffee table book. It is one of those. The format is not traditional and is purposely inconsistent. Think of it as Alexa’s blog, only printed. Imagine every topic as a separate blog post covering topics that are dear to Alexa’s heart, from grandpa Kwan’s extremely cool style to tweeting about coffee spills and everything in between.

There is a number of ways you can read the book. You can read it cover to cover, you can flick through the pages, you can skim through the copy, hell, you can make a number up, open that page and read it – you will get your time’s worth. The beautiful part is that this format allows you to dip in and out whenever you like – there are no strings attached. It is you literary friend with benefits which is there for you when you need it.

Alexa’s writing style is synonymous to her personality. If she thinks it, she will say it, and then publish it too. Expect pearls like: “I am obsessed with moisturising. I am also obsessed with cigarettes – so I I like to think that the two balance each other out” or “I have started putting nail varnishes in the fridge to keep them nice but now there’s nowhere to put the butter”. About the latter, I do that too by the way, it works.

In a nutshell, It is a collection of personal memories and anecdotes that make the author and the reader connect. While reading is a passive activity generally speaking, It leaves an impression of a dialogue between the author and the reader, just like blogs do. You will be left feeling as if you just went for a nice cold pint with Ms Chung. Maybe asked her for a lighter too once you stepped into the pub garden.

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Alexa on hair

Boys say they don’t mind how you get your hair done. But then they leave you for someone with really great standard girl hair and the next thing you know you’re alone with a masculine crop crying into your granola.
I like the fact It has a lot of hairspiration. I like the fact that there is a lot of emphasis on the fact that it is ok to be confused about what hair style suits you. I still have no idea what hair cut could be my signature one. I think I never will. And that’s ok. I am not alone.

While most of us shiver at the thought that our hair isn’t perfect for a really important occasion. Meanwhile Alexa confessed that she prays to go out of the salon with her signature messy sexy do. She told us that often her hair will have an overly good day and that in Chungland this simply won’t do, for Alexa is famous for her perfect imperfection. It was refreshing to find out that she’s like all of us: thanking the hair stylist politely, and then going home and redoing it. Sound familiar?

Alexa on social media

“Social networking in an ironic name for something that has little to do with connecting us with others and everything to do with self-promotion.”
Alexa’s is a very straightforward, down-to-earth approach to Twitter, Instagram among other social platforms. She revealed that a few hate-messages made her hide her Instagram account from the public’s eye. Thoughtless dialogue, hate for the sake of hate, compliments for the sake of compliments can make the social sphere the loneliest place online. I guess one can feel lonely both within real and virtual crowds.

Alexa on fashion

“Looking effortless takes a lot of effort.”
Alexa’s fashion icons are as cool as her fashion sense. First up, we’ve got Wednesday Addams, we also have the Spice Girls, followed closely by Winona Ryder during her Heathers day, and lest we forget Grandpa Kwan and – as Alexa reminisced – two particularly stylish school teachers. One of my favourite references is Eddie Sedgwick, as I too, have a particularly warm spot for her. I remember myself thinking one time… Why is it that all of my icons are either dead or fictional? While Alexa’s are not like mine, she does reference the living, you can definitely see her sentiments shine through her style. The collection of her memories, her love of clothes, her influencers as seen through her eyes is what makes Ms Chung a modern icon and muse to many.

I decided to open the Q&A session and ask Alexa what her pet peeve was. She laughed and said she didn’t know she had one until the day before – when she saw those sporty socks/shoes with toes things. She thought these were horrid. Are they a thing? she asked me back. I hope not, I replied without a microphone and yet I am sure the whole of V&A heard me.

According to Andy Warhol, fame lasts fifteen minutes. He is right. Alexa’s fifteen minutes are up as her fame morphed into legend.

Tag, she’s it.
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*All of Alexa’s quotes cited in this piece are either from the book or from the event.