This fashion week is also the 25th anniversary of Jay McInerney’s now-classic novel, Bright Lights, Big City. The eighties are all packed up into this book. The fashion, the music, the hair. This story is about a young modern gentleman who moves to the city with his young wife, Amanda. She very quickly becomes the "it" model and muse for many, and leaves for Paris Fashion Week, only to never return.
Hidden inside of this novel are wonderful tidbits about the fashion world (all kinds of salesmen want to sell models insurance on their body parts) and the ins and outs of fashion shows (jealous ex boyfriends are their biggest security threat) as well as how much or little Manhattan nightlife has changed.
Part of the story centers around his young wife modeling for the plaster cast that will become the new mannequin prototype at Oscar de la Renta. The world Amanda leaves her husband to is full of some drastically 80’s vices. The fun really begins when Ted Alagash (a sort of older version of a less-mature Chuck Bass) leads his friend on a get-well tour of excess and debauchery. It is equally as funny as it is touching.
I read it once when I was a younger gentleman, and it seemed fine enough. Then I read it again and was impressed how a novel that was probably dated and seemingly out-of-touch in the nineties could so quickly turn into a time capsule of another era. I was most struck by how much New York City really hasn’t changed.
This fashion week, we’re hearing about the return of shoulder pads and the styles of the eighties. This book is that generation’s voice, crying out on the dance floor just to prove it is still alive.
It is great fun to read and reread, and McInerney even adapted it to the screen with a movie of the same title starring a young Michael J. Fox.
The new book jacket, like our modern city, no longer features the twin towers. As Gawker says
, "This one just looks like the opening credits of Saturday Night Live."
Oh, Gawker, we wouldn’t know. The Modern Gentleman hasn’t seen television on a Saturday night since the eighties. Maybe this fashion week Gawker could join us for a double-vodka-rocks at The Odeon? We’ll call Allagash…