cover image Designs


James Brady. Crown Publishers, $0 (453pp) ISBN 978-0-517-56284-0

This fast-paced and sexy novel by the former publisher of Women's Wear Daily and editor-in-chief of New York magazine is imbued with authentic fashion-industry background, from the details of the manufacturing process to the frenzied atmosphere of Manhattan's seedy garment district. But much here is predictable glitz. Chelsea West, an ""astonishingly beautiful young woman,'' who is also an heiress, is an instant success in the fashion world, making a splash as a glamorous model and famous designer by the age of 23. The rendering of her romance with her boss, Marc Street, and the industry rivalries and mobster violence that threaten their livelihood and lives is cluttered with falsely intimate name-dropping (protagonists apprentice to Coco Chanel, lunch with Bill Blass, fly in hot-air balloons with Malcolm Forbes and party with Andy Warholwho would ``go to the opening of an envelope''). And Marc and Chelsea's penchant for the occasional, inarticulate ``I dunno'' and an arch, self-conscious omniscient narrator (``There was the usual wait at the bar and the requisite drink'') are grating. Brady (author of Superchic redeems himself somewhat, however, in his sensitive treatment of male friendships as well as serious homosexual relationships. (October 3)