REVIEW: THE CHIFFON TRENCHES

By Jasmine Chan: Arts Columnist

What is the fashion industry without gossip? The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir, highlights these along with the life experience of journalist André Leon Talley’s career in the fashion industry. Released on 19th May 2020. The Chiffon Trenches has also gone onto expose the issues regarding the representation of ethnic minorities, to the lack of quality control that has slipped over time. Talley is a prolific American fashion journalist who has worked for well renown magazines, varying from Vogue to The New York Times.

Photographer: Retha Ferguson

I first heard of this book when I was watching a video from Haute Le Mode, a fashion channel on YouTube, talk about the publication. This caught my eye because of my interest with fashion and wanting to understand what the industry is like. So, I decided to read a sample from the eBook on my iPhone’s bookstore. Immediately, I was engrossed. The writing was engaging, yet entertaining while also reaching to moments where I would sympathise about Talley’s lowest moments. As soon as the sample finished, I bought the eBook and eagerly continued to read it.

This work is ideal for anyone who has an inkling towards the clothes industry, or who wants to hear the gossip of big names within the sector. At the end of the memoir, there is a best dressed list decided by Talley himself.

Even if you are not someone who is into fashion, this book is still a worthwhile read. The downside is that the book will mention names. If you are not familiar with them, you will have to do a google search to put a face to the name.

With the black lives matter movement happening currently, this publication is well timed in bringing a spotlight to BAME (Black, Asian, Minority, Ethnic) representation in the creative sector. Data from the office for national statistics, found that ten percent of the creative industry’s work force is made up of BAME. Compare this to the thirteen percent that contributes towards the general workforce outside of art. You begin to realise that it is much smaller, and in need of increase in representational diversity. Without this, the creative sector will eventually suffer. Causing it to no longer represent the public’s views.

Another issue that brings attention within the book is the way new creatives get into the industry. Do not forget, this publication talks about Talley’s journey in the fashion industry. One of the reasons that Talley alludes to is due to the lack of mentorship and care towards emerging journalists. The lack of investment also underpins this. Consider the fact that we are in a pandemic, while yes, the British government has decided to give £1.5 million towards the creative sector. How will this money be used to help emerging creatives get their foot into an already competitive industry?

So, would I recommend this publication to you? If you have an interest in fashion, gossip and about someone else’s life experiences, then yes. The writing in the book draws you in, making you want to devour in all in one day. An enticing read.

Meet Yasmine on the Team Page. Visit the Arts Department.