Four memoirs on the world of magazines, from its era of influence to fighting it out in the new, digital space.
In The Land of Men: A Memoir by Adrienne Miller
A coming of age account in the last gasp of the magazine industry’s reign, in an era populated with male writers and their excesses, makes for gripping reading in Adrienne Miller’s In The Land of Men: A Memoir. Miller got her start as an editorial assistant at GQ before taking up the mantle of becoming the first woman literary editor at Esquire.
At both magazines, she was subject to the egos of power-hungry men, but at Esquire, she met David Foster Wallace, who became her friend, professional collaborator, and lover. Their explosive personal and working relationship produced great pieces of work, but in the end, Miller ruminates, “was it worth it?” A highly charged reading experience, this memoir is full of the messiness of that period, and yet is also a fiercely lucid look at the world of professional writing and one woman’s ability to survive.
The Chiffon Trenches by André Leon Talley
Anyone who knows anything about the world of fashion will have heard about André Leon Talley—or at least seen photos of him in his ubiquitous cape. Talley got his first start at Interview, working with Andy Warhol and befriending Karl Lagerfeld. From a career that spans from John Fairchild’s Women’s Wear Daily to Anna Wintour’s Vogue, and friendships with everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Grace Mirabella, he has seen and done it all.
His story is a candid view of the biggest names in the last fifty years of couture. Engaging, ruthless, and honest, Talley’s survival in a beautiful but brutal scene (one rife with racism, backstabbing, and unprofessional behavior) is the inspiration for those who dream of becoming an inspirational voice in this cutthroat industry.
The Glossy Years: Magazines, Museums and Selective Memoirs by Nicolas Coleridge
Released just under a year before André Leon Talley’s memoir, Nicolas Coleridge’s effort has unfortunately been overshadowed. But don’t skip The Glossy Years, because it covers the zenith of the fashion magazine world from the 1970s to the digital-first era of the 21st century, with a uniquely British perspective, in his career that started in Tatler to editor-in-chief of Harpers & Queen.
From stories of Tina Brown, Topshop’s Philip Green, Kate Moss, to Margaret Thatcher’s impact on clothes, and adventures with Bob Geldof, UK Prime Ministers and Princes, this is the definitive account on the glossy industry across the pond.
Everybody (Else) Is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes by Gabrielle Korn
This provocative, eye-opening selection of personal and cultural essays from Gabrielle Korn, the former editor-in-chief of Nylon explores today’s zeitgeist, from feminism on the internet, beauty standards, and evolving views on sexuality. Korn was named the youngest EIC in the edgy publication, and life seemed perfect.
Beneath it all, she was struggling with mental health, imposter syndrome, dealing with her sexuality, and battling anorexia. Korn’s essays take this world of unreachable perfection to task, asking questions on what it means to be truly woke while surrounded by people content on keeping their heads in the sand.
Banner Photo by Charisse Kenion