On the first chapter, I thought I was going to really enjoy this book… but it ended up being too snark-tastic to appreciate. If one imagined Kitchen Confidential as a fashion travelogue, this is what you’d get. Lots of swearing, loads of contempt.
It started out well, as the author described her upbringing and fashion consciousness in SF in the 70s. Honest and brutal, and I “recognized” the gritty California of my own youth. The best thing about Wilson’s book is that she appreciates that style (whatever style you are wearing) is a conversation with the world around you, and she’s happy to deconstruct that style… including her own. The worst thing about Wilson’s book is that she couldn’t recognize goodness or truth if they bit her on the nose.
Wilson finds beauty and style in people on the wrong side of the tracks, and in ways other than the usual, “look thin and rich”. Laudable. But in most other classes of people, she is unable to see beauty. What she finds aesthetically appealing is a bit NSFW to review here.
If Wilson had been as viscerally honest about the fashion travelogue and really gotten to know the people in other areas of the country, I think this book would have been substantially better. It’s not the snark I minded, it was the close-mindedness.
The whole thing reminded me that beauty qua beauty IS important, and that it is worth fighting for.