The Asylum: A collage of couture reminiscences...and hysteria

The Asylum: A collage of couture reminiscences...and hysteria

4.5 8
by Simon Doonan
     
 

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After nearly a lifetime spent in the Industry, author and fashion insider Simon Doonan is ready to let you in on a little secret: his peers in this multibillion-dollar industry are just as nutty as the denizens of your local loony bin. In The Asylum, an unabashedly hilarious collection of autobiographical essays, Doonan, the creative ambassador for Barneys New

Overview

After nearly a lifetime spent in the Industry, author and fashion insider Simon Doonan is ready to let you in on a little secret: his peers in this multibillion-dollar industry are just as nutty as the denizens of your local loony bin. In The Asylum, an unabashedly hilarious collection of autobiographical essays, Doonan, the creative ambassador for Barneys New York, tells the real-life stories of glamorous madness and stylish insanity.  

Doonan has witnessed models unable to work for fear of ghosts, gone deep-sea fishing with a couturier pal and his jailbird companion, and watched Anna Wintour remain perfectly calm while the ceiling fell—literally—in the middle of Fashion Week. Once you start looking, he says, you’ll notice telltale signs of lunacy everywhere. Style insiders see patterns and trends in everything; they suffer from outsize personality disorders and delusions of grandeur; and of course, they have a predilection for theatrical makeup and artfully destroyed clothing. No one is more suited to the asylum than the truly die-hard fashionista—after all, eccentricity and extremism are the foundations of great style.

With his gimlet eye for the absurd and a love for eccentricity, Doonan’s personal and professional stories never fail to entertain. “The David Sedaris of the style universe” (The Boston Globe) gives us the scoop on the kooky, cutthroat—but always fabulous—fashion world, and proves himself one of the sharpest humorists writing today.

Editorial Reviews

Being the Creative Ambassador-at-Large at Barneys might not get you across international borders, but in Simon Doonan's case, it has provided him with a well-deserved perch to contemplate his fellow planet-dwellers. The witty fashion arbiter the Boston Globe called "the David Sedaris of the style universe." As his Slate readers already know, the author of Gay Men Don't Get Fat and Wacky Chicks seldom bites his tongue; whether he's dishing or gushing, he speaks his mind in memorable ways. The Asylum earns a place on the bookshelves of style watchers with a sense of humor.

From the Publisher
Praise for The Asylum:

“Simon Doonan's hysterical first row, firsthand observations are a must-read for fashionistas and non-fashionsitas alike.”
—Michael Kors  
 
“The fashion world is—in a word—hysterical! Simon Doonan is the one man who sees it and tells it like it (absurdly) is.”
—Marc Jacobs
 
“Simon Doonan is the Bon Qui Qui of Fashion—stirring things up and reminding us to keep a sense of humor.”
—Alexander Wang 
 
“In The Asylum, Simon Doonan's comedic genius explodes out of highbrow shoe boxes.”
—Leandra Medine, author, and blogger of The Man Repeller

“[A] raucous and revelatory essay collection....[Doonan] knows the fashion world inside out....Even readers whose fashion sense is more Gap than GQ will find keen insight and humor in Doonan’s cheeky take on what it means to be chic.”
Booklist

“Hilarious, irresistible essays about the sheer lunacy of the fashion world, from a sharp-eyed (and even sharper-tongued) industry insider.”—People

“The funniest fashion book of all time.”—Lucky Magazine

“These snappy essays find Doonan surprisingly more sincere and charming than ever… A gossipy, voyeuristic and reliably campy romp down the catwalks of the fashion asylum.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Simon Doonan, the creative ambassador for Barney's and Slate columnist, is one of culture writing's funniest voices.”—The New Republic

“Simon Doonan is a legend in the fashion world. Wickedly funny, wildly creative...has an insider's view of global style and its peculiar inhabitants....Indeed, those loony, creative types are what have kept Doonan interested for the decades he's been in the fashion business. And what makes his book so entertaining for the rest of us.”—Suzanne S. Brown, The Denver Post

Kirkus Reviews
2013-08-15
High-fashion hijinks from the outspoken "Creative Ambassador" for Barneys New York. After spending much of his life working with reed-thin models and quick-tempered designers, raconteur Doonan's (Gay Men Don't Get Fat, 2012) skewering of the couture world comes from a place both of witnessing the industry's stylistic evolution and playing a key part within it. If readers are to believe the author's melodramatic musings, fashion designers date hustlers and porn stars, and models are "legendarily cheap," yet each plays an integral part of the fabulous "flock." Spliced between cleverly narrated bits about his window dressing days, "fashion superdeity" Anna Wintour, urine drinking, and his best friend, a psychologist (whose work "in a nuthouse" resembles life in the fashion industry), are colorfully realized profiles of iconic designers like visionary couture doyenne Diana Vreeland, Coco Chanel, Tom Ford and Doonan's Fire Island "beach neighbor" Michael Kors. Some of his earlier recollections nod fondly at Manhattan's pre–Rudy Giuliani halcyon days in the 1980s when he rubbed elbows with "illustrious fashionrati" like Madonna, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs at the Gaiety, a Times Square gay male burlesque theater. Collectively, Doonan's writing here is less biting than previous forays and, to his credit, more concerned with sharing an engaging memory than being snarky. The author often pauses midstream in a digressive retreat from critical (but no less hilarious) commentary on particular people (style show host Elsa Klensch) or places (Japan) to remark on a genuine fondness for them. Though he quips, "you have to admit, my sweeping generalizations are always so much more exciting than facts," these snappy essays find Doonan surprisingly more sincere and charming than ever. A gossipy, voyeuristic and reliably campy romp down the catwalks of the fashion asylum.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101594216
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/03/2013
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
312,410
File size:
635 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Author's Note

Ah! Fashion.

A nuthouse? A refuge? Or maybe both. Yes, an asylum in both senses of the word. A place where unemployable crazy people are always welcome.

Every seasoned fashion personage has his or her favorite stories of folly, aberration, derangement, kookiness and excess.

These are mine.

In most instances real names are used. I have tweaked the identities of certain individuals to protect their innocence and cherish their fabulosity.

Have I embroidered or embellished? Let me answer that question by quoting Diana Vreeland: “Exaggeration is my only reality.”

—S. D.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for The Asylum:

“Simon Doonan's hysterical first row, firsthand observations are a must-read for fashionistas and non-fashionsitas alike.”
—Michael Kors  
 
“The fashion world is—in a word—hysterical! Simon Doonan is the one man who sees it and tells it like it (absurdly) is.”
—Marc Jacobs
 
“Simon Doonan is the Bon Qui Qui of Fashion—stirring things up and reminding us to keep a sense of humor.”
—Alexander Wang 
 
“In The Asylum, Simon Doonan's comedic genius explodes out of highbrow shoe boxes.”
—Leandra Medine, author, and blogger of The Man Repeller

“[A] raucous and revelatory essay collection....[Doonan] knows the fashion world inside out....Even readers whose fashion sense is more Gap than GQ will find keen insight and humor in Doonan’s cheeky take on what it means to be chic.”
Booklist

“Hilarious, irresistible essays about the sheer lunacy of the fashion world, from a sharp-eyed (and even sharper-tongued) industry insider.”—People

“The funniest fashion book of all time.”—Lucky Magazine

“These snappy essays find Doonan surprisingly more sincere and charming than ever… A gossipy, voyeuristic and reliably campy romp down the catwalks of the fashion asylum.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Simon Doonan, the creative ambassador for Barney's and Slate columnist, is one of culture writing's funniest voices.”—The New Republic

“Simon Doonan is a legend in the fashion world. Wickedly funny, wildly creative...has an insider's view of global style and its peculiar inhabitants....Indeed, those loony, creative types are what have kept Doonan interested for the decades he's been in the fashion business. And what makes his book so entertaining for the rest of us.”—Suzanne S. Brown, The Denver Post

Meet the Author

Simon Doonan is the creative ambassador for Barneys New York and the author of several books, including Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, Wacky Chicks, and Beautiful People (published in the U.S. as Nasty), which became a BBC TV series. Originally from England, he worked on Savile Row, at Maxfield in Los Angeles, and with Diana Vreeland at The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art before becoming the creative director of Barneys New York, where he designed legendary window displays for more than twenty years. In 2009, he designed the holiday decorations for the Obama’s first White House Christmas. Formerly a columnist for The New York Observer, he is now a contributor to Slate.com, and has appeared on Gossip Girl, Iron Chef America, America’s Next Top Model, and elsewhere. Doonan lives in New York with his husband, Jonathan Adler.

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The Asylum: A collage of couture reminiscences...and hysteria 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How does one get into such a horrible plave you must ask yourself? After awakening in the Asylum, I honestly thought I had died and gone to He<_>ll. But I didn't have it as bad as the ones in the Ratway. <br> Over a series of days, I got more and more curious about why people were disappearing and what exactly was happening to them. <br> Then I over heard a conversation about the Deadhouse. <br> This was a specialized branch of the Asylum that specialized in the reanimating of the deceased. So that brings up the question, is the Guardian a result of the Deadhouse. Probably. Was it an insane prisoner bound to the Asylum and escaped. Possibly. Only one way to find out. <br> But how do you find out what goes on in the deepest, darkest levels where only the insane were kept... as far as we knew? <br> Join them. <br> I would set by the two by twelve inch window on our cell door and every time a Reverend would walk by I would laugh at him and stare wide-eyed while mumbling under my breath. <br> It must have really been convincing, because a day or so later they grabbed me, slapped a straight jacket on me, and wheeled me down into the darkness. <br> What I saw was the most horrible sight in the world. <br> People were setting in their cells, eating what I could make out in the dim light as human body parts. So they specialize in cannibalism down here? Great. <br> I was dumped in a padded cell and locked in. I could hear the sqeaking of the rats crawling around my cell as I walked to the bed in the corner. <br> Then I heard something that was way too big to be a rat. <br> I turned and watched a boy that appeared in his later teens with red hair charge, knocking me over, and then bending over me. <br> "Dinner time, heh heh heh." He repeated over and over as he knelt over me and moved his bloodstained teeth towards my neck. He reaked of urine. <br> Thoughts raced through my mind but one stood out; fight back. <br> I spun on my butt and kneed the attacker in the side of the head. I must of struck his temple, because he retracted with a yelp in pain. <br> I rolled onto my knees and got to my feet before he could retaliate. I backed against the wall and the buckle on my straight jacket got caught on a ripped section in the padding. I pulled forward and jerked myself in several directins. <br> Then I heard a click and the next thing I knew, the straight jacket loosened up enough for me to slide out of it. My arms were cramped from being in the same position for I didn't know how long, but that didn't stop me from blocking a series of swings from the inmate. He swung high and I ducked, piledriving him into the wall. He fell to the ground, stood, and retreated into the darkest corner of the room. I stood and watched for several minutes, then all the lights went out. Curfew was in order. <br> I crept over to the bed, keeping my guard up. I lay down on the matress and was again overcome by the smell of urine. Well, might as well get used to it. <br> I pulled the sheet up over me, which was really just a rough sack that had the sides cut down the seams to act as a cover. <br> Sometime late during the night, I felt the boy that had attacked me crawl into bed next to me and got really close, which made me uncomfortable. Well, as I said earlier, I might as well get comfortable with all this. The Ratway was gonna be my new home for a while.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oh. My. Gosh. This is the best thing ever!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ewwww that guy smelled like pe<_>e! Keep it up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No way! You're awesome to do this with broken fingers!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. Ochie. I understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sucks.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
D": Im srry 4 ur loss