FASHION VICTIM: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style

Michelle Lee, Author . Broadway $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1048-4

These insights from former Glamour and Mademoiselle editor Lee will last longer than the fleeting women's and men's fashion trends she explores. Her work scrutinizes the co-conspirators who make up a $200-billion business—designers, manufacturers, the fashion press, garment workers, unions, retail outlets and, ultimately, consumers—and she spares no one. After an introduction to "The Fashion Victim's Ten Commandments" (including "thou shalt pay more to appear poor" and "thou shalt be a walking billboard") and a brief review of the history of Western clothing styles, Lee identifies key trends in today's fashion culture. Trends are quickly born in couture and extend to the mass market through manufacturing innovation. But they're declared dead as soon as they reach Kmart and other chains that offer essentially the same clothing at a fraction of the cost. Still, while the price tag may be low, there are high costs, including the exploitation of garment workers; damaging of the environment by manufacturing; criminal networks caused by mob infiltration of unions; and the problem of women striving for unattainable bodies to fit into clothes designed for professional models. Lee's casual tone—she frequently refers to what the Fashion Victim (who may or may not be the reader) would do in a given situation—belies the seriousness of her findings, but her informal prose doesn't make the book any less convincing of the problems associated with being a slave to fashion. Agent, William Clark. (On sale Mar. 1)

Forecast:Although books are not exactly "the new black" among the fashion crowd, reviews and mentions in women's magazines could make this popular.

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 02/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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