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Meryle Secrest

5 Podcast Episodes

Latest 1 May 2021 | Updated Daily

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Meryle Secrest, “Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography” (Knopf, 2014)

New Books in European Studies

As Meryle Secrest notes in the introduction to her new book, Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography (Knopf, 2014),”The most extraordinary fashion designer of the twentieth century is now just a name on a perfume bottle.” Were it not a book about Schiaparelli, it’s a sentence many people might assume was being applied to Coco Chanel, for Chanel looms large as the fashion designer of the last century. But Schiaparelli was, as Secrest reveals, more than a fashion designer: she was an artist. And, through her collaborations with SalvadoreDali, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray and others, she was in the vanguard of surrealism and transformed women’s fashions into an art form.Who was Schiap? It’s hard to know. But then we can never know everything about another person, which iswhat makes reading biography so beguiling: the illusion that we could. It’s a circumstance Secret openly acknowledges. “A great many aspects of Elsa Schiaparelli’s life will probably never be known,” Secrestwrites. “She was not much of a letter writer… If she had a diary, it has not survived. Her memoir is an example of an evasiveness that was almost automatic.” And yet, there are things we can know: Schiaparelli’s “gambler’s instinct” and “conjurer’s sleight of hand”; that she was famously difficult, a perfectionist, voracious reader, and excellent skier; that smoking was her one indulgence.She was, also, an extraordinarily gifted artist who worked very, very hard. In 1922, she had “no money, no career, no future, and a very sick daughter.” Five years later, Vogue was callingher V-neck sweater with 3/4-sleeves and a trump l’oeil bow “an artistic masterpiece.” Secrest’s biography is, ultimately, a compelling story of a complicated, determinedworking woman, and we need all the stories like that we can get. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/european-studies

33mins

2 Jun 2015

Episode artwork

Meryle Secrest, “Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography” (Knopf, 2014)

New Books in Art

As Meryle Secrest notes in the introduction to her new book, Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography (Knopf, 2014),”The most extraordinary fashion designer of the twentieth century is now just a name on a perfume bottle.” Were it not a book about Schiaparelli, it’s a sentence many people might assume was being applied to Coco Chanel, for Chanel looms large as the fashion designer of the last century. But Schiaparelli was, as Secrest reveals, more than a fashion designer: she was an artist. And, through her collaborations with SalvadoreDali, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray and others, she was in the vanguard of surrealism and transformed women’s fashions into an art form.Who was Schiap? It’s hard to know. But then we can never know everything about another person, which iswhat makes reading biography so beguiling: the illusion that we could. It’s a circumstance Secret openly acknowledges. “A great many aspects of Elsa Schiaparelli’s life will probably never be known,” Secrestwrites. “She was not much of a letter writer… If she had a diary, it has not survived. Her memoir is an example of an evasiveness that was almost automatic.” And yet, there are things we can know: Schiaparelli’s “gambler’s instinct” and “conjurer’s sleight of hand”; that she was famously difficult, a perfectionist, voracious reader, and excellent skier; that smoking was her one indulgence.She was, also, an extraordinarily gifted artist who worked very, very hard. In 1922, she had “no money, no career, no future, and a very sick daughter.” Five years later, Vogue was callingher V-neck sweater with 3/4-sleeves and a trump l’oeil bow “an artistic masterpiece.” Secrest’s biography is, ultimately, a compelling story of a complicated, determinedworking woman, and we need all the stories like that we can get. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/art

33mins

2 Jun 2015

Similar People

Episode artwork

Meryle Secrest, “Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography” (Knopf, 2014)

New Books in Biography

As Meryle Secrest notes in the introduction to her new book, Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography (Knopf, 2014),”The most extraordinary fashion designer of the twentieth century is now just a name on a perfume bottle.” Were it not a book about Schiaparelli, it’s a sentence many people might assume was being applied to Coco Chanel, for Chanel looms large as the fashion designer of the last century. But Schiaparelli was, as Secrest reveals, more than a fashion designer: she was an artist. And, through her collaborations with SalvadoreDali, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray and others, she was in the vanguard of surrealism and transformed women’s fashions into an art form.Who was Schiap? It’s hard to know. But then we can never know everything about another person, which iswhat makes reading biography so beguiling: the illusion that we could. It’s a circumstance Secret openly acknowledges. “A great many aspects of Elsa Schiaparelli’s life will probably never be known,” Secrestwrites. “She was not much of a letter writer… If she had a diary, it has not survived. Her memoir is an example of an evasiveness that was almost automatic.” And yet, there are things we can know: Schiaparelli’s “gambler’s instinct” and “conjurer’s sleight of hand”; that she was famously difficult, a perfectionist, voracious reader, and excellent skier; that smoking was her one indulgence.She was, also, an extraordinarily gifted artist who worked very, very hard. In 1922, she had “no money, no career, no future, and a very sick daughter.” Five years later, Vogue was callingher V-neck sweater with 3/4-sleeves and a trump l’oeil bow “an artistic masterpiece.” Secrest’s biography is, ultimately, a compelling story of a complicated, determinedworking woman, and we need all the stories like that we can get. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/biography

33mins

2 Jun 2015

Episode artwork

Meryle Secrest, “Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography” (Knopf, 2014)

New Books in History

As Meryle Secrest notes in the introduction to her new book, Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography (Knopf, 2014),”The most extraordinary fashion designer of the twentieth century is now just a name on a perfume bottle.” Were it not a book about Schiaparelli, it’s a sentence many people might assume was being applied to Coco Chanel, for Chanel looms large as the fashion designer of the last century. But Schiaparelli was, as Secrest reveals, more than a fashion designer: she was an artist. And, through her collaborations with SalvadoreDali, Jean Cocteau, Man Ray and others, she was in the vanguard of surrealism and transformed women’s fashions into an art form.Who was Schiap? It’s hard to know. But then we can never know everything about another person, which iswhat makes reading biography so beguiling: the illusion that we could. It’s a circumstance Secret openly acknowledges. “A great many aspects of Elsa Schiaparelli’s life will probably never be known,” Secrestwrites. “She was not much of a letter writer… If she had a diary, it has not survived. Her memoir is an example of an evasiveness that was almost automatic.” And yet, there are things we can know: Schiaparelli’s “gambler’s instinct” and “conjurer’s sleight of hand”; that she was famously difficult, a perfectionist, voracious reader, and excellent skier; that smoking was her one indulgence.She was, also, an extraordinarily gifted artist who worked very, very hard. In 1922, she had “no money, no career, no future, and a very sick daughter.” Five years later, Vogue was callingher V-neck sweater with 3/4-sleeves and a trump l’oeil bow “an artistic masterpiece.” Secrest’s biography is, ultimately, a compelling story of a complicated, determinedworking woman, and we need all the stories like that we can get. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/history

33mins

2 Jun 2015

Most Popular

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"Worlds Apart: Romaine Brooks and Amedeo Modigliani" with Meryle Secrest

Talks, Symposia, and Lecture Series

Meryle Secrest is an award winning biographer and winner of the 2006 National Humanities Medal. Her critically acclaimed works include biographies on Romaine Brooks, Frank Lloyd Wright, Salvador Dali, Bernard Berenson, Stephen Sondheim, and most recently, Amedeo Modigliani. As a feature writer for The Washington Post for many years, she wrote profiles of prominent individuals including Leonard Bernstein, Anaïs Nin, and Marc Chagall. From 2002 to 2004 she taught creative writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Secrest lectures widely and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs in connection with her biographies, including NPR's "All Things Considered" and TODAY. She was born and educated in Bath, England, and now lives in Washington, D.C.

1hr 12mins

27 Nov 2013