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Frocking Life Written by BillyBoy*, Foreword by Jean Druesedow, Introduction by Jean Pierre Lestrade a.k.a. Lala
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Frocking Life: Searching for Elsa Schiaparelli

Written by BillyBoy*, Foreword by Jean Druesedow, Introduction by Jean Pierre Lestrade a.k.a. Lala

  • November 22, 2016
  • Hardcover
  • Design - Fashion & Accessories
  • Rizzoli Ex Libris
  • 6-1/4 x 9-1/8
  • $39.95
  • $39.95
  • 978-0-8478-4386-2

About This Book

At an early age, BillyBoy* chose two mentors: Bugs Bunny and Elsa Schiaparelli. From Bugs Bunny, he learned the basics of how to behave in society and how to manage life’s wicked turns; to be coy, smart, witty, and to always dress appropriately with the assurance of Beau Brummell. But most of all, his cartoon mentor taught him a lighthearted approach to life, and an entertaining charm that is to personality what humor is to good conversation. From Schiaparelli, who he discovered at age fourteen through a very strange hat in a Paris flea market, he learned the meanings of love and art. His human mentor opened doors that he “never even dreamed existed,” as the title character says to her nephew in Auntie Mame. As Schiap turned into a genuine passion, she became a golden thread that led to all sorts of discoveries, encounters, and inspirations over the next forty years. A wealthy orphan with a glamorous but complicated background, BillyBoy* adopted the legendary designer as a guardian angel of sorts, and has spent a lifetime searching for her, through her clothes.
 
Inspired by Shocking Life, Schiaparelli's own memoir, FROCKING LIFE will resonate with anyone who loves fashion and flamboyant storytelling. Built around some of the most iconic pieces ever created by the designer, this book is about endless discoveries, and the meaning that can be transmitted, across decades, by a simple piece of clothing. Peopled by dazzling characters from Schiaparelli's own inner circle and the worlds of art and fashion— Saint Laurent, Vreeland, Warhol to name a few—this is a scintillating yet profound homage to a woman who saw life as art, and inspired a young boy to do the same. 
 
BillyBoy* has always been a strange fruit and it must be said, not everyone could have a bite of it. The press adored him since he was, as author Edmund White wrote, “good copy.” In fact, his thrilling journey through fashion, culture, and art are deeply tied to what he wore for each occasion.  One day, it is a skintight silver lamé studded outfit by Nudie Cohen (the designer of Elvis Presley’s elaborate ensembles), which was originally made for David Cassidy. For a tea with the Begum Aga Khan at the Ritz, he played the part of the dandy in a conservative suit with impeccable tie, topped by a Vivienne Westwood/Malcolm McClaren Buffalo hat adorned with a silk lettuce leaf. For an interview at home with German Vogue, he transformed into a sex kitten in hot pants and an Yves Saint Laurent sheer blouse. This book is both BillyBoy*'s personal story of his intense spiritual and metaphysical journey through life, and also his authoritative insight into the life and work of Elsa Schiaparelli who became such an influence on him.
 
As an historian and collector, his close examination of the milieu of European and American, Scandinavian and Asian high fashion and his detailed research into Schiaparelli's haute couture seasonal collections (and her vast number of licensed fashion and accessories) will appeal not only to fashionistas and haute couture devotees and collectors. It explores their relationship to her era, through the many friendships and relationships with the iconic people in fashion he forged over four decades. Anecdotes of varied stars in all aspects of culture will interest those who study 20th-century art and history.

About the Author

BillyBoy* is a collector, artist, and designer whose creations are part of the permanent collections of The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musée des Arts de la Mode, among many other institutions. As a collector, he is famous for his interest in couture and fashion dolls, and he is the owner of the largest private collection of Elsa Schiaparelli garments in the world.

Jean Druesedow is the director of the Kent State University Museum and was formerly the president of the Costume Society of America.

Author Bookshelf

Reviews

  • "Inspired by Shocking Life, Schiaparelli’s own memoir, FROCKING LIFE will resonate with anyone who loves fashion and flamboyant storytelling. Built around some of the most iconic pieces ever created by the designer, this book is about endless discoveries, and the meaning that can be transmitted, across decades, by a simple piece of clothing."
     —City Book Review 

    "We can’t put down FROCKING LIFE: SEARCHING FOR ELSA SCHIAPARELLI by BillyBoy* (Rizzoli Ex Libris). The tome is terrific blend of memoir, fashion history, and insight into the life and work of the legendary fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Inspired by Shocking Life, Schiaparelli's own memoir, Frocking Life will resonate with anyone who loves fashion and flamboyant storytelling. Which we love. A great deal."
     —Brilliant Magazine
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