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When Fashion Gets Dark: Top 5 Reads On The Perils Of Working In Fashion

You don’t have to read “Devil Wears Prada” to know that strange, and even brutal things happen in the fashion industry. A new book published by anthropologist Giulia Mensitieri has shocked France—and the rest of the world—with her detailed case studies, alleging how multi-billion dollar fashion houses exploit their junior workers for cheap labor.


READ: Fashion Diaries: This Is How I Got My Fashion Job


Mensitieri’s book, titled “The Most Beautiful Job In The World”, is currently published only in French. Although judging from global interest in this study, translations can be expected in due time. In her book, she details how aspirants (mostly in the creative occupation, such as stylists, makeup-artists, writers and young designers) are paid so poorly, they cannot afford rent, utilities and even proper food, despite working for the top fashion names.


Photo from La Découverte


In an interview with the Guardian, Mensitieri explains her findings succinctly, “The message is, you don’t have to be paid, because you are lucky to be there at all. Working in fashion is hyper socially validating, even if you’re unpaid.”

Mensitieri’s book has certainly sparked controversy, with plenty of questions and criticisms raised to the luxury houses. But, her investigation and tell-all isn’t the first (and certainly not the last) to expose the ugly side of the fashion industry. For all of its glitz and glamour, there is struggle, hardship and even drama to be endured.

Check out these other, brutally honest reads on working for the fashion industry:


“The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992” by Tina Brown


An autobiographical account of former Vanity Fair Editor-In-Chief, Tina Brown, “The Vanity Fair Diaries” is her tell-all of the roller-coaster years she spent reviving the (then failing) Vanity Fair magazine. Filled with high-society drama, politics, and plenty of backstabbing, this book reveals the tempestuous times of New York media in the 80’s—and the woman who triumphs above it.


“Gods & Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano” by Dana Thomas



Revolutionary success, like those of fashion legends Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, comes at a high-price. “Gods & Kings” is a biographical and journalistic achievement, part rags-to-richest story and part cautionary tale of ruthless life of an A-list designer. These are the awe-inspiring and tragic stories that make you wonder, how much are you willing to give to be fashion success?


“The Asylum: True Tales Of Madness From A Life In Fashion” by Simon Doonan



Let humor be your coping mechanism in the savage world of fashion! “The Asylum” is a hilarious collection of some of the most outrageous spectacles that’s ever happened within the fashion industry. Eccentric, delusional and sometimes downright psychotic, this book is out to prove that there’s plenty of mad-house worthy characters disguised with glamour.


“The Price Of Illusion: A Memoir” by Joan Juliet Buck



Former Editor-In-Chief of Vogue Paris, Joan Juliet Buck takes readers behind the glamorous curtain of fashion, film, magazines and stardom, to unveil its tumultuous workings. With impeccable prose and attention detail, “The Price of Illusion” is an underrated literary masterpiece of the highs and lows, the joy and pain, as well as the glamour and grit of being in the fashion spotlight.



Lead photos via La Découverte and Julia Dufort. Photos via