Reading ‘Fashion Babylon’ by Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous (Edward-Jones’ insider in the fashion industry) was an experience similar to that of drinking a cold cup of coffee; while the coffee will satisfy your caffeine fix, it is lacking in the warmth and pleasure you were expecting.
The novel is an account of six months working as a Fashion Designer, explaining how collections are created and the difficulty in getting them to the catwalk and into stores. While the book does successfully stress the work involved with the arduous job of creating a single show, “nearly five months of hard work and planning is over in eight and a half minutes”, it is also a bland and clichéd report of the industry.
In a society obsessed with gossip, where you can buy ‘Heat’ magazine in every news-stand, Edwards-Jones’ stories are unimaginative and predictable. The novel entices the reader with the promise of unheard stories, but well and truly fails to provide this, merely releasing accounts of magazine editors having big egos, fashionistas taking drugs and, shock horror!, catwalk models having eating disorders. Who would believe such ludicrous tales?
While the grapevine stories are insipid and most characters are highly stereotypical, Edwards-Jones has managed to include facts and figures about mark-ups and other technicalities that the reader may not have previously been aware of. While these do briefly sustain the reader’s interest, they are so rare that they fail to qualify the novel for merit.
Edwards-Jones, along with the aid of Anonymous, attempts to provide a comical, yet factual, behind the scenes insight into the fickle business that is the fashion industry. And while she has created a light and mildly entertaining holiday read, the fact that Edwards-Jones herself has no involvement in the fashion industry shines through, leaving the novel weak and filled with simple, surface knowledge.