In the mid-1990s, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen exploded onto a fashion scene that was in an artistic and economic rut. Their daring visions shook the establishment out of its bourgeois, minimalist stupor with vibrant, sexy designs and theatrical runway shows. By the end of the decade, each had been hired to run one of couture’s most storied houses, Galliano at Dior and McQueen at Givenchy. They were icons of a new generation of rock-star designers who headlined the transformation of luxury fashion from a small clutch of family-owned businesses into a global, multibillion-dollar corporate industry. But the pace was unsustainable. In 2010, McQueen took his own life. A year later, Galliano was fired in the wake of an alcohol-fueled, anti-Semitic diatribe.
In her groundbreaking work Gods and Kings, acclaimed fashion journalist Dana Thomas tells the true story of two unforgettable artists. In so doing, she pulls back the curtain on the revolution that has remade high fashion over the last two decades—and the price it demanded from the very ones who saved it.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Tangier is a city as ancient as the gods, the point where Europe and Africa meet, where the Atlantic and the Mediterranean kiss. It is a labyrinth of narrow streets “thronged with the phantoms of forgotten ages,” Mark Twain wrote in 1869, and “a basin that holds you,” Truman Capote observed, where “the days slide by less noticed than foam in a waterfall.”
Excerpted from "Gods and Kings"
Copyright © 2016 Dana Thomas.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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What People are Saying About This
John Galliano and Alexander McQueen raised the bar creatively and theatrically with their high-impact fashion shows. In Gods and Kings, Paris based fashion writer Dana Thomas digs deep with the zeal of a historian, to chronicle the parallel dramas of the British fashion wunderkinds, whose careers ended tragically, way too soon.
Dana Thomas has written a real-life saga that is as engaging and compelling as a work of great fiction. By taking us inside the fascinating world of fashion, she gives us a startling tale of ambition, creativity, ambition, fame, and ultimately tragedy. This is a terrific book.
Comprehensive, detailed, coldly accurate yet extraordinarily sympathetic, Dana Thomas's Gods and Kings is a fascinating double biography of two dressmakers of genius. But it's also a riveting, definitive history of the three decades in which fashion devolved from a coddling cottage business to a cutthroat industry quite capable of killing its young. As commerce triumphs over art, you can only cringe, but you also have to admire Thomas's exhaustive account of what fashion folk would no doubt refer to as a moment that will never, and can never, be repeated.
Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Thomas Jefferson and American Lion:
“Dana Thomas has written a real-life saga that is as engaging and compelling as a work of great fiction. By taking us inside the fascinating world of fashion, she gives us a startling tale of ambition, creativity, fame, and ultimately tragedy. This is a terrific book.”
Michael Gross, author of Model and House of Outrageous Fortune:
“Comprehensive, detailed, coldly accurate yet extraordinarily sympathetic, Dana Thomas’s Gods and Kings is a fascinating double biography of two dressmakers of genius. But it's also a riveting, definitive history of the three decades in which fashion devolved from a coddling cottage business to a cutthroat industry quite capable of killing its young. As commerce triumphs over art, you can only cringe, but you also have to admire Thomas's exhaustive account of what fashion folk would no doubt refer to as a moment that will never, and can never, be repeated.”
Teri Agins, author of Hijacking the Runway and The End of Fashion:
“John Galliano and Alexander McQueen raised the bar creatively and theatrically with their high-impact fashion shows. In Gods and Kings, Paris based fashion writer Dana Thomas digs deep with the zeal of a historian, to chronicle the parallel dramas of the British fashion wunderkinds, whose careers ended tragically, way too soon.”
Praise for Deluxe by Dana Thomas
“A crisp, witty social history that’s as entertaining as it is informative.”
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“What Fast Food Nation did for food service, this book does for fashion, exposing the underbelly of the $157-billion luxury industry and the lockstep consumer psychology behind its glamorous veneer.”
Los Angeles Times
“Richly reported…. Deluxe is a melancholy meditation on the fate of the handbag in the age of mechanical reproduction.”
“A scathing exposé demystifies the luxury-goods industry, detailing how venerable fashion houses have traded quality for profits…. Painstakingly researched and deftly written, valuable to fashionistas and fashion victims alike.”
"Meticulously researched and elegantly written…. Lamentation hangs over this book like a perfectly tailored sheath. … The story Ms. Thomas tells is a fascinating one, filled with surprising details, and she tells it well….. The mini-biographies that dot the book are its most engaging feature. Business buffs will relish more tales of buyouts, product placement, marketing and globalization. Prada wins points for some of the most audacious marketing moves while Vuitton loses points for its caving into Vichy and the Nazi regime, gestures by the way that cost them nothing in sales…. [A] wonderful book."
The Washington Times
“Thomas’s astute social history argues convincingly that accessibility has forever tarnished long-cherished status symbols.”
“Thomas does for high-end handbags what Eric Schlosser did for the Chicken McNugget in Fast Food Nation... Consider it required reading for anyone who has ever maxed out a credit card at Bergdorf Goodman.”
“[Thomas] writes with authority, and she knows the players… Unlike many of the authors on this crowded shelf, presumed experts whose intramural tone is aimed directly at executives looking to market their products more successfully, Thomas talks directly to the shopper – the teenager at the mall, the tourist in Vegas. … Thomas is at her best as a reporter, accompanying police in Guangzhou, China, on raids to bust the manufacturers and sellers of counterfeit goods. There is real drama in these scenes, and vivid characters, including tough-talking cops and rock-tossing child laborers angry that their work has been disrupted.”
The New York Times, T Magazine
“Meticulously researched and written with authoritative finesse, Thomas' book creates a devastating survey.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Kansas City Star
“A Paris-based Newsweek writer casts an impressive net over fashion… Thomas’ passion and egalitarianism stand out.”
“Dana Thomas spins a yarn the way Pucci spins silk.”
The Washington Post Express
“The stories of the artisans whose names became big brands – including the likes of Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, and Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel – are fascinating. Thomas…tells these tales beautifully, with rich reporting detail. … Luscious… Thomas has done a marvelous job of chronicling how brands once known exclusively to the super wealthy have become just another item in a shopping mall.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“Lively and incisive.”
“Uncompromising and intriguing.”
Fashion Week Daily
“[M]eticulous research… [Thomas] manages to make the manufacturing process seem absolutely riveting.”
–The Washington Post
“The story of luxury goods today is really about globalization, capitalization, class and culture. Dana Thomas has a feel for all of this and more and has written a fascinating book. A luxury product about luxury.”
Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek
“If you have ever wondered why a woman absolutely needs to buy a $3,000 handbag, or why she might perish without a certain shade of lipstick, this book explains it all in empirical, evolutionary detail. Dana Thomas has brilliantly dissected the fashion phenomenon while the healthy beast still thrives luxuriously on the operating table. Deluxe might make some women pause before spending the rent money on their Manolo Blahniks.”
Richard Johnson, editor of the New York Post's Page Six
“Dana Thomas is a brilliant reporter with a sharp eye for detail. In Deluxe, she provides an illuminating account of how the multi billion dollar luxury industry and the corporate giants that dominate it prey on, and bamboozle, consumers in the United States and the rest of the world.”
Michael Isikoff, co-author of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War
“Deluxe is delicious if you know about fashion; fascinating even if you don’t. Dana Thomas is a fearless reporter who shows how so many designer goods have gone to hell in a handbag. This is a page-turning yarn about the men and women who have transformed luxury into an off-the-rack, global commodity.”
Joel Achenbach, Washington Post columnist and author of The Grand Idea
“Miss J. says don't buy the shoes, buy the book. Perfect front row reading when the shows are late during fashion week. Deluxe is a luxury to read.”
Jay Alexander, America’s Next Top Model
“Through exhaustive reporting and personalized storytelling, Dana Thomas has delivered a historical survey of a business that truly keeps the world going round. She may never again be so readily welcomed in some quarters of this beau monde, but the trade off is an essential reference for any student of fashion, finance or culture.”
Rose Apodaca, former west coast bureau chief, Women's Wear Daily