The Blonds: Glamour, Fashion, Fantasy
The Blonds, David and Phillippe, should be more famous than they are. Their work is extraordinary. Their artistry is somewhere between haute couture and a Brazilian Mardis Gras float. Take Bob Mackie and electrocute his sequins, toss in a Lady Gaga Superbowl halftime performance, and blow up a disco ball, and you might have half the visual impact of any one of their garments. To experience one of their runway shows is to see a parade of what any other designer would reserve as their “final look.” A bad day for them is a perfect 10; occasionally, they hit the stratospheric.
And that’s why they deserved so much better than this book.
For the die-hard fans, it does not provide any new or insightful information about the inspiration, process, or history of this incredible design team. There’s nothing a basic internet search couldn’t deliver. There are no notable behind-the-scenes shots, no photographs of fittings or candid imagery of David and Phillipe at work in their atelier.
And for those who just want to look at pretty pictures of epic ensembles, it lacks the opulence, the decadence, of what it’s like to see a piece by The Blonds in person. Instead, it feels like B-roll shots of Fashion Week, cheaply bound in metallic-wrapped cardboard; an art school student’s mood board; a social media account that desperately wants to be verified.
The accompanying celebrity essays and commentary range from banal to idiotic, as if they’ve been churned out by a lackluster PR firm. Can anyone imagine Nicki Minaj, a rapper known for her ability to craft slick, clever phrases, only being able to muster this sentence as her highest compliment for a beloved collaborator: “what I love most about them is their reliability when I’m going on a tour or calling them last minute for something sickening.” There are Uber drivers out there with better reviews, and few of them have spent thousands of hours creating custom corsetry bedazzled with jewels, chains, and mirrored glass.
Fashion icon and personal friend Daphne Guinness does them no better, beginning her foreword with: “The Blonds come from a real place, which stems from the club scene surrounding the late Andy Warhol.” I’m not sure Warhol would ever accuse his devotees of being “real.” The Blonds come from a place of high fantasy, a place of euphoria, a place of never-ending performance. Reality has nothing to do with it.
For better or worse, the rest of the text is easy to miss. Half is printed in gold, the delicate font often disappearing into pale backgrounds. The other half is rendered in nearly illegible handwriting, made more indecipherable by being scrawled over busy photographic details—and it’s not even either of The Blonds’ actual handwriting!
This book should have reflected the idiosyncratic glory of The Blonds’ work. Instead, this is a generic product more akin to an Instagram highlights reel than an exclusive glimpse into one of the most decadent couturiers of this generation. With a roster of repeat celebrity clients longer than the invite list to the Met Gala, this book also should have been a master class on craftsmanship, materiality, and grandeur. Instead, it feels more like the morning after the last party of Fashion Week—some decent camera photos, but no one remembers much of it.