cover image Bare Blass

Bare Blass

Bill Blass. HarperCollins Publishers, $25.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-06-018555-8

New York Times fashion critic Horyn teamed up with quintessential American designer Blass to write this memoir in 1999. They finished it just weeks before his death on June 12 of this year. Nonlinear in format-Blass skips from telling of a 1949 prize he won for designing a gingham dress with a patent leather belt, to a 1971 fashion show in Fort Wayne, Ind., and then back to his role serving in the armed forces during WWII-the book has the feel of a scrapbook of memories, which is indeed delightful when one considers the colorful life Blass led. Originally from the Midwest, he moved to New York at age 17 and eventually became one of fashion's biggest names. Written in the first person and peppered with snapshots of Blass with Pat Buckley, Nancy Kissinger, Nancy Reagan, Gloria Vanderbilt and others, Blass's memoir is at once a tribute to the designer and, as he writes, ""a typical American success story.""