BOOK & REVIEWS: Bonnie Cashin: Chic is Where You Find it

“I worship at the altar of Bonnie Cashin.”
–Jonathan Adler, in the introduction
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Courtesy Jeanette Abbink, Rizzoli Books, the Bonnie Cashin Archive.  All Rights Reserved.

 

 

“In an era of mass-conformity, Bonnie only becomes more esteemed for her singular aesthetic, her refusal to compromise, and her lasting influence.  She’s one of the great untold stories of the last century.”  –author Stephanie Lake, Angeleno

 

 

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Eye candy it is. Everything about the book is visually arresting, highly personal, and informative, down to Bonnie’s own dictums.” Marilyn Kirschner, The Lookonline / Daily Fashion Report

 

Her influence has made it onto the runways of Tom Ford, Chloé, and even Nicolas Ghesquière’s Balenciaga, but her name is familiar only to costume historians and vintage enthusiasts . . . Though many are unaware, Cashin was in fact a mega talent . . . Most historians will agree that Cashin is one of the most innovative designers America ever produced. And now Rizzoli has lifted her oeuvre out of obscurity with the first-ever book published on the designer, Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It.” –Jeremy Lewis, I-D Magazine

 

 

More than fifteen years after her death, Bonnie Cashin seems to be having a moment.”–Rosemary Feitelberg, WWD

 

 

Bonnie Cashin was one of the great designers.“–Bill Cunningham, New York Times

 

 

Bonnie Cashin “influenced the work of countless designers, but her name has largely faded from the history books.  This may be about to change, thanks to a new book about her life and work.”Fortune

 

 

“Cashin is the subject of a beautiful new book from Rizzoli, Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It, edited and with a text by Stephanie Lake and an introduction by Jonathan Adler. Lake met Cashin toward the end of her life and became a very close friend; she also took over the management of her estate after Cashin’s death in 2000 and has been the single strongest advocate for her work. The book will be a great revelation to many unfamiliar with Cashin’s designs. Others, who have long regarded her as one of the iconic queens of American fashion in the 20th century, will simply let out a sigh of relief that this brilliant woman finally has a brilliant book dedicated to her work.”– Judith Freeman, Los Angeles Review of Books

 

 

“Does the name Bonnie Cashin ring a bell? She’s not only the original founder of the Coach label, but she’s also the most frequently copied designer, with Céline’s Phoebe Philo and Tom Ford counting her as an inspiration. Now, she’s finally being recognized with a Rizzoli tome.”–Observer

 

“It’s fitting that the definitive book on Cashin ‘s acclaimed career as a pioneer of American sportswear comes out this month, in the midst of a season loaded with references to her design influence . . . Lake’s book is more than a compilation of greatest hits. It’s a lively biography and scholarly look at 20th century design, which very much informs what we wear today.” –Allison Kaplan, Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine

 

 

Bonnie Cashin, who helped shape both American Sportswear and the New York Fashion world . . . is the subject of a new career-spanning tome.” —Harper’s Bazaar

 

 

Biographer Stephanie Lake recounts the pioneering designer’s bold start . . . and her indelible influence on the birth of American sportswear.”–Harper’s Bazaar

 

 

[S]ome fashion scholars go so far as to credit her with inventing American sportswear.  Stephanie Lake, is a protégé of Cashin’s who owns her vast personal design archive and is the author of a recent monograph, “Bonnie Cashin: Chic is Where You Find It.”  Fashion generates disciples, but rarely ones as devoted as Ms. Lake. She can tell you the value of Cashin’s first contract with Coach ($2,500 for two collections) and the color of the Nelson Marshmallow sofa in her studio (yellow).”–Christopher Petkanas, New York Times

 

An exhilarating look at the quintessential American modernist, acclaimed for her ‘Auntie Mame’ lifestyle, her iconoclastic approach to fashion, and her visionary designs for the modern American woman.” –Rizzoli

 

A career-spanning tome.” —The Wall Street Journal

 

 

This is an important and overdue portrait of a visionary whose ground-breaking approach to American fashion makes her the earth mother to virtually every New York designer who came after her.“–Colin McDowell, Business of Fashion

 

 

Aesthetically or ethically, there’s probably no one in fashion I admire more than Bonnie Cashin. Decades of well-considered, pragmatic + madcap creativity without compromise,  . . .  This week’s column looks at the lavish new bio that does Cashin justice from her start in stage + film costumes to design work for Sills & Co, Ballantyne, Hermès, Coach + many others. It’s all Cashin’s closet, we just live in it.”—Nathalie Atkinson, The Globe and Mail

 

 

Bonnie Cashin: Chic is Where You Find It is out this week. I’m an ardent admirer of Cashin’s work, and it’s the fulsome biography I’ve been hoping for almost as long as Lake’s been writing it, not least because it confirms both a philosophy of living and a dressing sensibility that seems quintessentially modern. She may have been born in 1907 but Bonnie Cashin could teach today’s fashion a few timeless lessons.”—Nathalie Atkinson, The Globe and Mail

 

It’s making for such rousing reading; Rizzoli’s books are always sensitively made, but this one is unique . . . ” –Katie Haegele, The Lala Theory

 

 

“What’s on your nightstand?”

Stephanie Lake’s Bonnie Cashin: Chic is Where You Find It, a survey of the pioneering fashion designer’s work. I’ve been a fervent fan since junior high.“–Pilar Vilades, Town and Country Design and Architecture Editor

 

 

Though Lake is the eagle-eyed author of this biography, Cashin’s voice come through on every page.” –Katie Haegele, UTNE Reader

 

 

This is the book I’ve spent a year waiting for.  Bonnie Cashin is (in my opinion) an underappreciated American original.  Unconventionally “Auntie Mame”,  she brought true American style to the masses, producing functionally streamlined designs for women that led active American lives.  The foremost Cashin authority, jewelry designer Stephanie Lake, uncovers how her life and style influenced what we wear today.  Published by Rizzoli, you can count on beautifully photographed pages of fashion eye candy.“–Pretty Page Turner, Reading the Runway

 

 

If there has ever been a book of this genre that is long overdue it is this one, and a great debt of gratitude is owed to Stephanie Lake for taking on this monumental effort with such intelligence. Lake has shed a white light on one of the most brilliant designing minds of any century and offers the reader an astounding amount of written and visual information; the bar has been raised. . . . Lake is owed a debt by all fashion readers let alone the entire fashion community that is woefully to blame for ignoring those who truly paved the way for today’s designers, who in large majority have drawn upon the endless ideas of Bonnie Cashin.”—Jeffrey Felner, New York Journal of Books

 

 

THE ABSOLUTE MUST READ FOR ANYONE IN FASHION”—Jeffrey Felner

 

 

From Amazon:

 

“Wonderful book about the work of a woman who really invented American sportswear. Ms Lake’s caretaking of Bonnie Cashin’s personal collection ensures that there are 100s of photos and drawings of pieces you haven’t seen before. Pour a glass of wine and sit down with this beautiful book for an hour or two. This is the perfect gift for anyone who grew up loving Bonnie Cashin, and for those who are just being introduced to her genius.”

 

This book is a visual feast of color, texture and form, an impeccably crafted and ultimately empowering array of clothing design and accessories, also a compelling and truly American narrative of a young girl from an immigrant family who through sheer hard work and determination took her imagination and skills and became one of the most respected designers of her time. I plan to buy a few extra copies for gifts as the designs of Bonnie Cashin remain undiscovered by many who are not design insiders, and will come as a revelation, and is just a grand, heavy, sumptuous looking book to receive.”

 

An excellent overview of one of America’s most original and authentic designers…a long over-due tribute! Lake’s writing captures Cashin’s philosophy that underpins all of her design work and aesthetic choices as well as the trajectory of her career. It is a fabulous and inspiring story!”

 

 

A truly intimate account of Bonnie Cashin. Everything about this publication is well done from writing to photography to editing. The author’s first hand knowledge of this outstanding designer is apparent throughout the book. Be sure you read every word.

 

 

Wish I could give this book 10 stars! An amazing book about an equally amazing woman. Stephanie Lake provides incredible photos and such insightful background about one of the most influential designers of our time. I highly recommend – you will NOT be disappointed!”

 

 

Stephanie Lake has written an instant classic. Her Bonnie Cashin: Chic Is Where You Find It is a major work about a major 20th century fashion designer, and Lake has done right by her subject. This book should be required reading in fashion courses. Additionally, it is a pleasure to look at–the photos of Cashin’s many designs are sumptuous. I will be looking at this book over and over–it simply makes me happy to do so.”

 

 

From the Publisher:

 

 

Author Stephanie Lake discovered Bonnie Cashin while researching vintage fashion for a Sotheby’s catalog, and was shocked to find how little material there was about this seminal contemporary American designer. Through some fortuitous contacts, she came to meet Cashin and they formed one of those rare and immediately deep bonds of people who immediately “click,” so much so that Cashin referred to Lake as her little sister.  For three years, until Cashin’s death, Lake and she met almost weekly and collaborated on, as Lake states, “…my plan to redress historical neglect of her career.”  

 

The result is a comprehensive survey of Cashin’s innovations and signature designs shown in over 300 images of drawings, photos, garments, and ephemera from Cashin’s personal archives—a collection gifted to Lake.  Lake’s work is an exhilarating, lavishly illustrated look at the quintessential American modernist, acclaimed for her”Auntie Mame” lifestyle, her brazen opinions, her iconoclastic approach to fashion, and her visionary designs for the modern American woman.

 

A talented artist who happened to become a fashion designer, Bonnie Cashin was free-spirited and unconventional in all she did. Revered for her intellectual and independent approach to fashion, Cashin changed the way women dressed with her revolutionary, forward-thinking approach by designing chic,functional clothing for the modern woman—women like herself who were relentlessly on the go and defying accepted notions of the era, sharing a belief that practicality and joy in dress were necessary to living a modern, mobile life to the fullest.

 

A designer with an exceptional eye for fabric, shape, and finishing details, Cashin is considered a “mother” of American sportswear and credited with many fashion “firsts” including the concept of layering, and championing such timeless shapes as ponchos, tunics, and kimonos. She was the founding designer of Coach when the house was launched in the early 60s, and was arguably the first to design the It Bags of her day—classic handbags of rugged leather and handsome brass hardware that every woman wanted to carry.

 

Without question Cashin was one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, and is a perennial muse for many contemporary designers. Brimming with the rich evidence spanning seven decades of work, BONNIE CASHIN CHIC IS WHERE YOU FIND IT is the long overdue book celebrating the designer’s life and oeuvre,beautifully written and by a woman who was, and is, a kindred spirit of the irrepressible Bonnie Cashin.

 

About the author: Stephanie Lake holds a PhD from Bard Graduate Center, where she wrote her dissertation on Bonnie Cashin. She inherited Cashin’s personal archive and has curated Cashin retrospectives around the globe. A jewelry designer, Lake’s work consistently garners distinguished industry accolades and editorial attention.  Jonathan Adler is a potter, designer, and home decorative arts guru.