Synopses & Reviews
The House of Klein tells the inside story of the rise of a fashion legend and the business empire he built from the ground up. Calvin Klein is perhaps the worlds best-known fashion designer and creator of one of the most recognizable brands in the global marketplace. At the forefront of fashion for more than thirty years, Klein has been no stranger to controversyyet his continued success and profits always seem to answer his critics for him.
In The House of Klein, fashion writer and industry insider Lisa Marsh offers a warts-and-all exposé of the kid from the Bronx who rose from copy boy at Womens Wear Daily to the head of a $3 billion corporation built on the power of sex. First grabbing attention in the 1970s, Klein revolutionized the industry by offering designer jeans at affordable prices. But it was his advertisements, more than his designs, which would land him on the front page.
In the early 1980s, ads featuring teenage beauty Brooke Shields making provocative statements including "Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing." brought charges of sexual exploitation of a child, but the resulting maelstrom only garnered more attention for the thriving brand. Klein followed by introducing his Obsession fragrance in 1985 which was accompanied by an ad campaign that featured the naked arms, legs, and torsos of several unidentifiable models.
In the 1990s, Kleins use of the famously thin "it girl" Kate Moss, prompted more criticism. Her gaunt, boyish features and vacant stare hinted at child pornography, sexual ambiguity, anorexia, and even heroin use, but again Klein managed to leverage the brouhaha to further boost his brand recognition.
Attacked from all sidesby conservative pro-family groups and feminist organizations, among many othersKlein continued to question American taste and morality. But his success eventually led to scrutiny of his personal life, and rumors sprung up about his sexuality, as well as alcoholism and his petty personal vendettas. Marsh uncovers the truth and the fiction behind these claims, revealing Klein as a more complicated figure than both his detractors and supporters would have us believe.
Much like the affecting yet disturbing images associated with his brand, Klein is a contradictory figure capable of both warm charm and icy wrath. As a businessman, he is either a calculated genius or a lucky bumbler whose company succeeds despite his meddling. Above all, he is an entrepreneur who knows that sex sells. The House of Klein presents a revealing portrait of the man behind the brandan inscrutable giant of the fashion industry whose influence continues to shape the American cultural landscape.
Throughout American fashion designer Calvin Klein's 35-year career, he has been "dogged by rumors about his sexuality, illnesses, illicit drug use and shady business dealings," writes New York Post fashion reporter Marsh, who presumably had a front-row seat. Nevertheless, this unauthorized book, which the author refers to as a "business biography," offers little inside information about any of these issues as it tracks Klein and his partner Barry Schwartz's success in creating and transforming Calvin Klein Inc. from a manufacturing company to a design, licensing and marketing firm, which in its last years was averaging earnings of about $3 billion annually. (The Company was sold to Phillips-Van Heusen in early 2003.) Marsh presents her material about the company's evolution in chronological order, exploring how it either tapped into or redirected American fashion trends over the past 30 years-including, of course, the placement of logos on everything from T-shirts to underwear. But she explains little about the man behind the initials - and even less about the people he interacted with. All the major players, in fact, are desc ribed in tabloid terms. Klein and Schwartz, for example, are repeatedly described as either the "scrappy" or "street-savvy" "duo from the Bronx." Rapper Marky Mark, who was featured in Klein's print advertisements for underwear and jeans, is "the boyish man." And Klein foe Linda Wachner, former CEO of the Warnaco Group Inc. (which licensed Calvin Klein underwear) is described as "the ball-busting blonds." Business readers looking for a quick history of the American fashion scene since 1970 may find this book appealing. However, general readers looking for lifestyles of the rich and famous will be disappointed. (Aug.) (Publishers Weekly
, July 21, 2003)
"...your going to love the House of Klein..." (Harpers & Queen, September 2003)
"...it captures beautifully the long hours of hard work and the joy of success..." (Management Today, September 2003)
"...this book offers an informed, insider's account of the defining moments of a fashion legends life..." (Luton News, 10 September 2003)
[the book] "reveals fashion's bottom line". (USA Today, September 29, 2003)
"...this investigation of the controversial New York designer focuses on the business dealings..." (Hot Stars, 11 October 2003)
The House of Klein for the first time tells the inside story of the rise of a fashion legend and the mammoth empire he built. Calvin Klein is the most well known and successful fashion designer in the world, but the tale of his ascendancy to the top of the fashion industry has never been fully told. This is the warts-and-all exposi of a boy from the Bronx who made his name synonymous with high fashion by making his brand synonymous with sex.
A fashion world insider and journalist reveals the secret world of Calvin Klein
The House of Klein for the first time tells the inside story of the rise of a fashion legend and the mammoth empire he built. Calvin Klein is the worlds most well-known (and successful) fashion designer and has created one of the most recognizable brands in existence, but the tale of his ascendancy to the top of the fashion industry has never been fully told. The House of Klein is the warts-and-all exposé of a boy from the Bronx who made his name synonymous with high fashion by making his brand synonymous with sex. This book offers an informed, insiders account of the defining moments of a fashion legends life, a life circumscribed by personal and professional struggle. Fashion writer Lisa Marsh pulls no punches in presenting the true story of this mammoth of the clothing industry, complete with corporate battles, lawsuits, petty personal vendettas and backroom dealings. Marsh reveals the underbelly of the glittering world of high fashion a world characterized not so much by beautiful people and wild parties, as it is by money and power, above all else. The House of Klein brings to life this compelling figure through the authors own research and interviews with the man himself, as well as with other figures in the industry such as Isaac Mizrahi who finally come clean about the man behind the brand.
"The House of Klein" tells the inside story of the rise of a fashion legend, Calvin Klein, and the mammoth empire he built. This is the warts-and-all tale - rife with controversy, personal struggle, corporate battles, lawsuits - of a boy from the Bronx who made good in the fashion world.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 217-219) and index.
"From Mosholu Parkway to the high fashion salons of Paris and Milan, Lisa Marsh takes us on a Mach-1 ride through the world of Calvin Klein. A well-told tale of a boy from the Bronx who revolutionized fashion and made himself rich, yet somehow failed to make himself happy. The essential, and eternal, morality play of business."
Christopher Byron, author, Martha Inc.
"This is more than the rags-to-riches story of a creative genius peddling perfume and denim. Marsh brilliantly traces how our culture evolved in the last part of the twentieth century, as Calvin Klein pushed us toward his minimalist aesthetic and challenged our puritanism with his sexy advertising."
Richard Johnson, Editor, New York Posts Page Six
"Lisa Marsh gives us an informed and never-before-revealed look at the inner business workings of one of fashions most compelling brands . . . Her blending of business with a backdrop of fashion, tells a fascinating story of an iconic American brands struggles and successes, culminating with what seems to be the beginning of a new chapter. Even as an industry insider, I found the book to be fresh with a new point of view on one of the most talked about and written about designers in the business."
Reed Krakoff, President/Executive Creative Director, Coach, Inc.
"More than any other designer, Calvin Klein has relied on advertising to create his companys image. Author Lisa Marsh recognizes the mechanics behind the magic while telling Kleins rags-to-riches story with style from beginning to end. Its a compelling read and one youll learn from."
Donny Deutsch, Chairman and CEO, Deutsch, Inc.
"Calvin Klein is not just a brilliant, creative designer and groundbreaking marketer . . . Calvin Klein is a company that has grown from wheeling a rack of coats from Seventh Avenue to Fifth Avenue to being the most recognized name in fashion around the world. Lisa Marsh takes you on that fascinating business trip."
Fern Mallis, Executive Director, 7th on Sixth, Vice President, IMG
"Calvin Klein found an opening in mens underwear and never looked back. Crack fashion scribe Lisa Marsh gets right there in the closet with him."
Ben Widdicombe, columnist, "Chic Happens"
"The House of Klein" lüftet das Geheimnis der Modebranche und ihrer schillerndsten Figur: Calvin Klein, dem wohl bekanntesten und erfolgreichsten Modedesigner weltweit. Das Buch erzählt eine Geschichte, gespickt mit Kontroversen, persönlichen Schwierigkeiten, Unternehmenskämpfen, Gerichtsprozessen, schockierenden Werbespots, staatlicher Zensur, Verbindungen zur Mafia, wilden Parties und vor allem Kommerz. Mit Interviews früherer Mitarbeiter, Geschäftskollegen und Mode-Insidern, die hier erstmals offen über Klein und die Dinge hinter den Kulissen sprechen. Autorin Lisa Marsh verfügt über ausgezeichnete Kontakte zur Modewelt.
About the Author
LISA MARSH has worked in the fashion industry for more than a decade. She began her career in journalism writing financial news stories for the fashion industry bible Women’s Wear Daily and its brother paper, DNR. She focused on the bottom line instead of the hemline while covering the fashion and retail beat for the New York Post’s business section and was a correspondent for Full Frontal Fashion Daily on MetroTV. She is also a regular contributor to the Australian newspaper. She lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. From the Bronx.
Chapter 2. Working.
Chapter 3. Early Years and Jeans.
Chapter 4. Booming Boxers and Briefs.
Chapter 5. The Cost of Business.
Chapter 6. Obsession.
Chapter 7. Calvin's Kelly Girl.
Chapter 8. Unraveling.
Chapter 9. What is Calvin Klein?
Chapter 10. Fast, Furious and Forte.
Chapter 11. Controversial cK.
Chapter 12. The Trouble with Linda.
Chapter 13. On the Block.
Chapter 14. The War With Wachner.
Chapter 15. Streamlining for Success.
Chapter 16. Phillips-Van Who?
Chapter 17. Tomorrow.