Chronicle Books, what took you so long to grace us with Fifi’s presence? Despite launching the style bible in the UK in 2010, The Wonderful World of Fifi Lapin landed on this side of the pond in March 2012. Fifi is a convivial, self-obsessed dwarf hotfoot (or so I assume for a bunny that never leaves home without her eyeliner) that guides the reader through “the joyful adventure that is getting dressed.” The book is organized by days of the week with each chapter considering a different atmosphere or event. Everyday wear is covered with the same urgency of date night or a glamourous event. One can never be too prepared!
So what can we learn from this adolescent cony? Her sassy guide to mixing and matching is practical, her overtly self-aware commentary is pure entertainment. The first rule of the book underlines the importance of seeking out designers and following their looks through the seasons. She utilizes stunning looks from the runway to elucidate ‘pretty chic’ or ‘quirky kook’ with tips on how to recreate the shapes and vibe yourself. Voilà: fashion is no longer a wide, murky ocean; it’s as clear as the Smith River! Fifi sculpts an image of the lady you can be depending on ensemble, i.e Audrey Hepburn, who wore predominantly Givenchy, or a businesswoman rocking the “H-line” a la Dior. Other designers such as Missoni or Betsey Johnson are cited for recurring stylistic trends like the sweater dress or babydoll dress, respectively. Fifi invites the novice into the seemingly nebulous world of fashion by even recommending blogs and up-and-coming designers as well. That’s education, people!
Interviews with trendsetters such as Paul Smith, Erdem, Eley Kishimoto, Emma Hill, and Michael van deer Ham, also appear in the pages of her manual. Their insights are a history lesson and diving board for further exploration. The chitter-chatter revolves around their evolution of style and inspiration but feels tense in comparison to the casual squabble of the rest of the text. Barbara Hulanicki converses about style since Biba dissolved in the mid-1970s, for example. Anna Sui waxed poetic about the development of her versatile aesthetic and her recent obsession with mother-of-pearl. Every designer is asked what type of girl wears their clothing and what style is to them; the answers are shockingly uniform and anticlimactic. Lesson: style is about individuality and pretty much every designer wants ‘their girl’ to be fun, assertive, and creative to make beauty look effortless. Tell us something we don’t know, Fifi.
Oh, but she does! The book is riddled with instructional components, from ‘how to apply the perfect lippie’ to ‘how to pose for the camera’ and ‘how to whip up a delicious face mask.’ There’s even a recipe for Fifi’s carrot cupcakes and a detox drink. So who should read this book, exactly? The lingo and foundational knowledge make it ideal for the younger reader who has recently had an epiphany that clothing exists for many more reasons than just keeping you warm. More youngins should be encouraged to march to the beat of their own drum, and this book does just that. Furthermore, it’s a coy “gift” for that friend of yours who continues to wear semi-opaque leggings with tank-tops or over-accesorize. Fashion is fun, but Fifi shows the reader that guidance is key.
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