• The Beautiful Fall

  • Fashion, Genius, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris
  • By: Alicia Drake
  • Narrated by: Bernadette Dunne
  • Length: 16 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (82 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the 1970s, Paris fashion exploded like a champagne bottle left out in the sun. Amid sequins and longing, celebrities and aspirants flocked to the heart of chic, and Paris became a hothouse of revelry, intrigue, and searing ambition. At the center of it all were fashion’s most beloved luminaries - Yves Saint Laurent, the reclusive enfant terrible, and Karl Lagerfeld, the flamboyant freelancer with a talent for reinvention - and they divided Paris into two fabulous halves. Their enduring rivalry is chronicled in this dazzling exposé of an era: of social ambitions, shared obsessions, and the mesmerizing quest for beauty.

Alicia Drake writes regularly for publications including the International Herald Tribune, British Vogue, Travel and Leisure, and W magazine, for which she was a contributing editor. She has lived and worked in Paris for the last ten years.

©2006 Alicia Drake (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Deliciously dramatic… The Beautiful Fall crackles with excitement.” ( New York Times Book Review)
“Fascinating.” ( New York Times)
“[It] moves stylishly forward, with frequent overtheshoulder glances at some very dishy background…A story constructed as exquisitely as a couture dress.” ( Boston Globe)

What listeners say about The Beautiful Fall

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Fun and immersive -- despite the narrator

An entertaining and informative odyssey through the decadent, hedonistic, and creative world of Paris fashion in the '70s, with an exciting and comprehensive emphasis on YSL and Karl Lagerfeld. But I will never understand why -- for a book that is so obviously focused on France and the French -- would this be given to a narrator who clearly has NO clue as to how to pronounce French words and names, and pronounces them inconsistently throughout, to boot? At the very least, one would expect a reader to make the teensiest effort to check on pronunciations before rattling off words and names?
I was literally gritting my teeth through much of this. At the very least, learn to pronounce "couture." Gaaah.
But a good listen anyway.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A "must hear" for fashion history enthusiasts

Would you listen to The Beautiful Fall again? Why?

Yes! Such interesting subject matter.

Any additional comments?

Very interesting how the author entertwined the lives of the two famous designers.

1 person found this helpful

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Very good except wrong French pronounciations

It's coo-ture, not coe-ture. She gets it right with "boutique," so not sure how "couture" got off the rails. Otherwise, an entertaining story.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful, Glorious, Chic.

Terrific, well written, well read story of the genius that was couture, Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. Really satisfies that craving for tales of exotic and immense beauty, talent, envy, creativity and gossip that we all desire. If you’re interested in fashion, Paris, elegance or decadence, you’ll enjoy this. Bon appetit!

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Great even if you know nothing about fashion

I love business biographies and this is a great one. Try it, you’ll like it

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  • KC
  • 06-19-19

Less fashion; more social life

I didn't learn much about fashion, it's more about the social life of the jet set crowds surrounding YSL and Karl Lagerfeld. The narrator struggles to pronounce French and German words which are rampant in the book. Overall it was okay.

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Use It Up, Wear It Out

Alicia Drake did a good job of piecing together interviews, gossip, and research to create this book. However, the result is very empty and shallow. I waited to write this review hoping that I would change my mind or that I would gain some great insights to share. The IDEA of this book was good - the tale of two hugely successful fashion designers and the ways that their relationship changed them from friends into bitter rivals. I got the sense that the writer chose the easiest path - using gossip and dishy interviews- instead of bringing any kind of insight or compassion to the piece. It is true that there was a lot of excess and shallowness in the 1970's. It was also a time of tremendous creativity and social change. This book was an opportunity to increase the level of understanding about all of this and that opportunity was missed. 

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Sets the scene beautifully

This is a very detailed story of Saint Laurent & Lagerfeld. It sets the tone and scene of the time quite well. Definitely seems to be more favorable to Yves.

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Fascinating life of King Karl and YSL

In my opinion, King Karl is one of the most fascinating people on the planet. This book was a thrilling listen. To get insight on the juxtaposition of YSL and King Karl in their creative process/lifestyle/ indulgences was brilliant. I loved this listen.

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