Gods and Kings: the Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano was the first of a number of books to arrive from a recent order I placed on Amazon. (Among the ones that have yet to arrived is Always Pack a Party Dress, by great English-Countryside-Goddess Amanda Brooks. It came out ages ago (read: this past May) but I still haven't managed to get my hands on it.) Gods and Kings falls right in place with the fashion-history
moment obsession I've been having. I just finished reading The Beautiful Fall, by Alicia Drake, about Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld in 1970s Paris and Gods and Kings follows the story of two London designers in the eighties and beyond.
But those two London designers weren't randomly picked; they were chosen to be the subject of this book because of extreme similarities between both of their journeys in fashion. Both designers came from tough, working-class neighborhoods and families, were bullied as children, had a talent recognized by teachers and peers, and topped the fashion world at one point. Both designers cracked and fell from their thrones, the only difference being their circumstances: John Galliano got fired for a drunken, anti-Semetic rant and Alexander McQueen killed himself.
The title explains it all: this is the story of gods and kings, of genius designers and the powerful titans that rule over them, not quite finding the balance between art and wealth, and causing the sanity of brilliant minds to spoil in the process. Gods and Kings not only explores the rise of each designer, from their humble beginnings to their aggressive falls, but also the bustling community of the 1980s London fashion scene that produced them. Reading this book sometimes felt like an interwoven web of now-famous designers, muses, actors, and models, or maybe just an abundance of unintentional name-dropping. It's truly fascinating to know that so-and-so made their runway debut at one of Galliano's shows, or that so-and-so went to school together at Central St. Martin's.
I'd have to recommend this book to anyone who considers themselves interested in fashion, as it covers different aspects of the industry such as history, design, and business. This book has earned a star spot on my bookshelf.