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The year when fashion started reading again

This spring a book under your arm is the best accessory

The year when fashion started reading again This spring a book under your arm is the best accessory

Four days ago, The New York Times published an interesting investigation into a mysterious "book stylist" - a professional with an unspecified identity whose job is to select, on behalf of celebrities and influencers, books to read and be seen with. Think of the success that Grimes had when he was photographed reading Marx's Capital, the times when Gigi and Bella Hadid walked around Milan holding volumes of Camus and Stephen King, the books omnipresent in the Instagram account of Alessandro Michele, Florence Welch, Emily Ratajkoskij, Emma Roberts, Oprah, Sarah Jessica Parker - the list could go on. The owner of The Last Bookstore, one of the largest and best known bookstores in Los Angeles, who has many contacts in the world of celebrities thanks to her previous job as a nail artist, now plays the role of book selector for private clients (according to The New York Times ten of these are big celebrities), taking care not only of the content but also the colors and aesthetics and therefore considering the book, as well as from an intellectual point of view, also an object, an accessory. 

The appearance of the profession of "book stylist", however, is a bit of a sign of the times, which is also reflected in the world of fashion that, for a few months now, has begun to flirt with the world of literature. Last December, Kim Jones used the blow-up of a Jack Kerouac manuscript as a catwalk to show Dior Homme's Pre-Fall 2022 collection, inspired by the works of the American writer, while Maria Grazia Chiuri started the pocast Dior Talks of which books are a frequent subject; Bottega Veneta and Valentino have included in their brand family the poet and musician Mustafa Ahmed, Chanel launched last year the Rendez-vous littéraires rue Cambon with Charlotte Casiraghi as host, the FW21 show notes of Loewe included an excerpt by Danielle Steel while at Etro the books were not only an integral part of the invitations but the models themselves walked the FW22 catwalk carrying an Adelphi book in their hands. A carefully curated selection of books is also omnipresent in Celine's boutiques, while the relationship that binds Alessandro Michele to literature is well known: besides having used vintage books as invitations for the Cruise 2020 collection, Gucci's creative director insists on frequenting the world of books, posting copies on his Instagram feed, quoting philosophers and including them in his shows as happened with Paul B. Preciado for the Overture of Something That Never Ended show.

To make a long story short, the book as an object and literature as a body of art are acquiring a relevance in fashion that, in the past, did not exist. The reason is to be found in the desire of brands to adhere to their new role as producers of culture, to the prestige that has always surrounded education and culture, to the growing importance that the archival fashion movement has given to academic treatises on fashion but also, and this is for celebrities, to flaunt culture and engagement, to inform themselves on social issues such as gender equality and environmentalism that are now part of any interview, not surprisingly many of the books read by celebrities on Instagram are more about non-fiction than novels. Moving from fashion in the strictest sense to the world of social, moodboard pages such as and @archivepdf post content recovered from old catalogs of the brands they are interested in, extracts from books and interviews following a philological method that has a lot to do with the literary sphere: after all, we are always talking about publications and the diffusion and reproduction of cultural artifacts. 

If for years fashion and the world of designers have been synonymous with culture, writing and reading books and surrounding themselves with poets and authors, the cultural aspirations of fashion are only now taking full shape - at a time when digital media channels are being joined by the need for brands to increase their value beyond clothes and therefore not only by building a visual identity, but also by cloaking themselves in all possible signifiers of prestige - books included.