City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, from Bohemian to Rock

Image of City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, from Bohemian to Rock
Release Date: 
May 22, 2012
It Books
Reviewed by: 

“. . . most definitely skewed toward the kids . . .”

Los Angeles fashion and style has long been considered a stepchild to New York’s, but in Ms. Magsaysay’s telling, one might consider L.A. a very distant relation, more like a cousin three times removed.

City of Style focuses on the laid back and effortless look that is supposedly attributed to the left coast but what it most certainly hones in on is the youth of the west coast. City of Style: Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, from Bohemian to Rock is most definitely skewed to the under 30 crowd (that’s generous).

There is an immediate loss of gravitas to the book as Ms. Magsaysay chose a former model to be the spokesperson setting the tone for the book. Being a model does not qualify you as an authority on style. Here’s the reality of it: If this were the case then if you stand in your garage you can be a car. A little P.S. here: Ms. Valetta is too old for the author’s target audience.

If one is to ascribe to the aspirational or inspirational “looks” described here, one better be young and not just “playing young.” The romantic bohemian (hippie) glamour is highly suspect here—skaters, chola, indie eclectic, and casual chic are the overreaching classifications described in detail—and when it comes to genuine issues or categories of style on any coast, these seem to be very much on the outer limits unless, of course, you are 22 or younger.

Los Angeles is known for many things when it comes to fashion or style, and one that cannot be ignored is the red carpet or movie star glamour we see it every day and everywhere. Ms. Magsaysay has somehow decided to speak to this category and omit some of the greatest homegrown Hollywood talents that ever lived.

How does an author who delves into this arena omit the genius of Bob Mackie, Orry Kelly or Irene Sharaff? The answer is very simply the same author who manages to omit one of the most influential fashion talents that the west coast ever produced in the 20th century: Rudi Gernreich.

Rather than dwell on the shortcomings of the book, there are a few areas where Ms. Magsaysay deserves some points and one of them is that she clearly avoids the usual suspects when it comes to shopping for “her looks.”

There is nary a mention of Rodeo Drive, Robertson, or Melrose. She instead provides a shopping guide that may take you through some of the great vintage stores in L.A. as well as niche specialty stores—but these may cater to only one specific look. On the other hand, City of Style is adequately filled with photos and illustrations that define these looks, but the visual content is weakly supported by the interviews with her “professionals” and various—sometimes almost stereotypical—Angelenos.

Let’s say that City of Style is most definitely skewed toward the kids to the exclusion of anyone in or entering their third decade or beyond—unless you suffer from the affliction of “you are never too old!” to wear what you want or what your daughter or son is wearing.