The Beat

Madam Reads- The Knockoff; Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza

Its been a long time since I read a good fashion book, everything that comes from the genre is either trying to be Devil Wear Prada or worse. And over the past couple of years we have fallen down the rabbit hole of that other book, you know the one; Fifty Shades…doms, subs and billionaire bad boys.

the knockoffThe Knockoff gives me cause to celebrate the return of a good fashion genre. It’s meaty, it’s ripe, and its right on time.

Imogen Tate, Fashion Editor of Glossy magazine returns to work after dealing with cancer,  to find that she’s being usurped by a brand new, young, tech type who wants to reduce her beloved magazine to an app. A what now? Eve Morton, Miss brand new on the block, is Imogen’s old assistant turned digital whizkid following a spell in Harvard. Imogen has to navigate her way through this new world of tweets, likes, selfies, and blogs. She’s the typical old school editor who believes in real connection over virtual, but in a world quickly becoming disconnected to be connected, she has to fight her way and adapt, before little miss snapchat takes over.

Eve has no concept of fashion or how the world outside of digital and data works. She’s new money; shiny and gauche, less than smart but thinks she has all the answers. Her world revolves around instagram likes and twitter followers. She mocks Imogen’s inability to work the new social media world order, and is constantly trying to change a world she hasn’t taken the time to understand. She plays at being the coolest kid on the block, but comes off and false and self aggrandising. She refuses to acknowledge the history of fashion before her, and shows and abject lack of respect for the institution.

I absolutely love the premise of this novel, it’s the sound of our time, so to speak, because it voices the thoughts of most of us print lovers; how much further before we become completely disconnected? Where is the feeling? The emotion? The connection? Its all so high pitched, sharp, and instantaneous. Momentary; there is no room to take it in and feel. We are inundated with information and images, everything is on the move, no time to slow down and take a breath. It reminds me of that scene from The September Issue when Grace is in Paris, walking the Luxembourg Gardens, marvelling at it, feeling the magnificence and I cannot help but feel sorry for the next generation who cannot understand the point that she labours in that short scene. Those who go charging ahead and don’t look back are the ones that eventually get left behind. Imogen is worldly and wise, compassionate and willing to learn. She is about feeling and connection, knowledge and respect. Emotion. Like Grace, she is very well liked and respected in the fashion industry.

What Sykes and Piazza do, is give us a lesson in how to behave in this brand new world of shiny gadgets and disconnected connections. They tells us to pay attention to the essence of style, not just for clothes, the importance of emotion, and power of knowledge. All that glitters ain’t gold is the grand theme here. It forces a rethink into our interactions with people, to connect on a real level, passions matter and they run deeper than who you know or how deep your pockets are, whatever the industry. Relationships, not data, matter because it makes us human, makes us feel. Because Eve is so desperate to be hip, she helps Imogen shine even more, awkwardness and all, and because she is unafraid to learn the ways of this new world whilst still believes in the ways of the old, she is the ideal heroine.