Tales from the back row An outsider's view from inside the fashion industry

Amy Odell, 1985-

Book - 2015

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New York : Simon & Schuster 2015.
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
Physical Description
viii, 231 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Amy Odell, 1985- (-)
Review by New York Times Review

Odell's memoir lifts the curtain ever so slightly to show the backstage of the fashion industry, where she began working as the inaugural blogger for New York magazine's The Cut in 2008. (She's now the editor of Cosmopolitan.com.) Odell got her start as a freelance party reporter, which she parlayed into a full-time fashion-writing gig, and she's self-deprecating and funny about her uncredentialed entry into this exclusive world. "No one orbits me," she admits, along with the fact that she had "no clue" about what she was looking at when she attended her first runway show, by Alexander Wang. This "not part of the incrowd" attitude is what makes Odell such a good blogger, but in a book her unpretentious manner quickly loses its appeal. When Vogue is considering hiring her as a fashion writer and Odell interviews with its editor in chief, Anna Wintour, her description of their encounter, which dwells on her lack of experience, is uninteresting. (Apparently Wintour wasn't impressed; the offer never came.) Odell's lengthy account of being seated at a dinner next to Richard Gere is similarly disappointing. This book has its charms, but it would have been stronger if Odell had tried to understand the fashion industry instead of making fun of it. In "Tales From the Back Row," her insecurities are better documented than any knowledge gleaned on the job. THESSALY LA FORCE is a writer and senior editor at Travel & Leisure.

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [November 24, 2015] Review by Booklist Review

Odell, a Cosmo.com editor, divides her look at the fashion industry into eight different groups (and, yes, groupies). There are trendsetters who dared to wear sweatpants to dinner way before a very well-known designer captured the look in one of his collections. For bloggers, she relates an absolutely hilarious tale about getting attention by donning street style, or, as she phrases it, lumbering inside of gliding. A person of importance never walks a hallway alone, she says about certain famous designers. And so on with bloggers, celebrities, editors, models, and you and me. This great comic narrative, laced with lots of name-dropping, will evoke chuckles and a sigh of relief that there are no reader portraits.--Jacobs, Barbara Copyright 2015 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Kirkus Book Review

The editor of Cosmopolitan.com dishes on the world of haute couture and its "exclusivity, shameless self-promotion, and extreme ideals of what is and isn't beautiful."In this collection of thoughts about her life as a fashion writer, Odell takes readers on a fun ride through an industry famous for its outlandishness. When she first began as a young fashion blogger for NYmag.com, the author quickly learned that she and her ilk were "like the global warming of the fashion industrytheir impact only selectively acknowledged despite its undeniable existence." As an unknown, she was relegated to the back row of fashion shows top-heavy with celebrities and egotism. She experimented with attention-gettingbut sometimes frankly ridiculousstyles such as pink acid-wash shorts both on and off the job while learning about fashion forecasting from the likes of Li Edelkoort. Odell describes encounters with top designers like Rachel Zoe and Karl Lagerfeld that initially terrified her. Despite having to deal with ferociously protective assistants on the one hand and outrageous eccentricities on the other, her experiences with both left her feeling "delirious." As Odell built her reputation, she caught the eye of Anna Wintour. The legendary Vogue editor interviewed her for a job that Odell characterizes as one for which she would have had to "[go] on valium every day just deciding what to wear every day." Her rising status in the world of fashion blogging eventually led to a coveted invitation to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. There, she met with the impossibly gorgeous women at the heart of the brand's success only to learn that "they, too, are as self-conscious as the rest of us." Odell's insight into what fashion tells us about ourselves is ultimately what makes her book so refreshing. As she observes, "the fashion industry, in many ways, is a study in how deeply we long to stand out in order to fit in." A sharply amusing fashion memoir. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.