Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Confessions of a Fashionista by Angela Clarke

My reading Confessions of a Fashionista by Angela Clarke was a complete fluke... You might even call it fate. See, I received an unreasonable amount of books for Christmas, probably more than I can even read in a year. On top of all the books I got for Christmas the year before that still haven't been read, I've not been actively looking for more books to read until I've made a dent in that pile. However, I do occasionally pop into my local Waterstones, especially if I need a bit of cheering up. I buy a coffee at the Costa inside (and cake - how convenient!) and browse the magazines, kitschy stationery section and coffee table books. I'm a sucker for a great bookstore! So I was in a Waterstones about a week or two before London Fashion Week started when I spotted Confessions of a Fashionista on a shelf suggesting Valentine's Day gifts and it had my name written all over it. I snatched up a copy and waltzed out rather pleased with my purchase. It was fate.

I've just finished reading the book, but let me be clear - I read it for most of the day yesterday. I stayed up till 2am. I then slept for 8 hours and it was the first thing I picked up this morning. It's not that this book is a massive cliff-hanger or anything, but it's fascinating. Written by someone who's played a part on the business end of the fashion industry, it's on par with other books we've all read and loved like The Devil Wears Prada, Everyone Worth Knowing and Confessions of a Shopaholic.

The book begins when the lead character Angela is about to finish university. Through a certain turn of events, she finds herself lost and without a plan for her life. I can certainly relate to that - I still don't have a solid plan for my life 10 years later! After a brief stint working at Harrods, she wakes up one morning and decides she'll work in fashion and she does. Confessions of a Fashionista follows Angela through a tornado of ups, downs and all out ridiculous situations from digging in a dumpster for a lost necklace to bringing home drunk colleagues after an industry party. Life vs. work balance is a major theme in the novel and I think most of us struggle with that tug-of-war in our lives every day. Can you really have it all? Is it possible? How can you work 60+ hours a week, attend industry networking events and have a meaningful relationship, much less a successful marriage and children? All of this is addressed in Angela Clarke's book.

What I loved most about Confessions is how grounded it is. Yes, the character is seduced by the fashion industry (who wouldn't be?) and begins the downward spiral of overspending, under-eating and justifying the ridiculous, but she's always aware of it. The tongue-in-cheek narrative never once strays from the truth - a million girls would kill for these opportunities and the girls who have them will do anything to keep them. There's nothing crazy about that - how many times have we read about Wall Street guys who work during vacation on multiple screens because they can't step away from the markets or about actors who work for months in strip clubs before portraying a stripper on the silver screen?

Confessions of a Fashionista is a light-hearted, funny and utterly charming book! Angela Clarke's writing is witty, engaging and above all, entertaining. For anyone considering a career in fashion, it's worth reading this book before you decide to sell your soles to Manolo Blahnik, but for those of you who just want a fun book to read, it's great for that too!

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