“The Absolute Woman: It’s All About Feminine Power”

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Post Hill Press | 208 pages | ISBN 9781642930092 | October 2018 List Price $26.00 (price may vary by retailer) Ships on or around October 9, 2018

“I Choose,” “No Sex for Shoes,” “Live for Love,” “Don’t Dance with Crazies.” These are a few of inimitable Fashion Designer/Self-Help Advisor/Cross Marketer Extraordinaire Vicky Tiel’s favorite things. The slogans are to be used as logos (Slogos?) on scarves and t-shirts to accompany the fall debut of her new book, “The Absolute Woman: It’s All About Feminine Power,” (the literary embodiment of her 2017 Femme Absolue fragrance available on HSN).  In horse racing terms, if 2011’s memoir “It’s All About the Dress: What I Learned in Forty Years about Men, Women, Sex and Fashion” places sex in a titular third place to show, this new female empowerment guide promotes it to first place for the win.  Of course, Tiel did come of age during the height of the ’60s sexual revolution (she’s now a proud grandma in her mid-’70s), a fact she seems to wear as a badge of honor so brace yourself for the TMI fest.

Vicky Tiel the originator of the mini-wrap dress

Although Tiel began writing her second book in February 2017 before the #MeToo movement reared its ugly head, she still manages to add it to the brew here. Equal parts raconteur and name dropper, the unapologetic femme facile admits to sleeping with her 13-year older husband #1 and her 13-year younger husband #2 on their first date or first meeting. This is apparently not your mother’s (1995)”The Rules”, yet some things remain. The overarching theme of the male of the species being attracted to females who maintain an optimistic point of view (although she no longer drinks alcohol after five car crashes,

Vicky Tiel’s dress being worn by Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman

Tiel always sees the glass half full) is one of them. Her “I Choose” theme invokes the idea that the woman does the choosing — her advice is to always select the man who loves you and pursues you, not vice versa. The book is written in large font bite-sized tidbits making it an ideal interstitial read. It is targeted at the young Millennial reader, but those well into their 40’s and up may also find it interesting and will particularly relate to “Life, Part 2,” the section on reinventing yourself in mid-life.

Vicky and Mia Fonssagrives start the mini in Paris 1964

The creator of the iconic “Pretty Woman” dress (Oprah even wore it in purple!) also lays claim to the miniskirt (sorry Mary Quant who, as Tiel points out, now sells nail polish rather than clothing) as well as the wrap dress (overwhelmingly associated with DVF). She was one-half of the” Youthquake” design team (with fellow Parsons School of Design Graduate Mia Fonssagrives) taking Paris by storm and opening a Mia-Vicky store on the Rue Bonaparte. With all odds stacked against them these two gutsy girls succeeded in becoming French “It girls” designing costumes for Woody Allen’s “What’s New Pussycat?” including the one-piece zip front jumpsuit worn by Ursula Andress, appearing as Americans in Paris sporting minis on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” in 1964 and dressing tout le monde including Elizabeth Taylor. Interestingly, La Liz became a friend who introduced young Vicky to her make-up artist Ron Berkeley aka Husband #1 (1971-1986 ) whom she has two sons with. Husband #2 who Tiel married in 1996 is Mike Hamilton, a Florida fishing boat captain.

“Girlfriend Talk” with Liz Taylor and Vicky Tiel

Dearly departed friends include Emmanuelle Khanh, Sonia Rykiel, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Berge and the most famous Frenchwoman designer of all — Coco Chanel who advised Tiel to create a namesake fragrance (she now has more than a dozen)! If you’re looking for fashion inspo, I would recommend reading “It’s All About the Dress” for more fashion history anecdotes, while here you can see more of Tiel’s sketches of her famous garments worn by famous women, favorite celebrity quotes, as well as personal photographs. If you enjoy wellness tips plus a detailed chronicling of Tiel’s daily diet (including things she finds splurge-worthy) along with some obligatory “New-Age-y” philosophy/life hacks, this is your book.

Vicky Tiel gown

Here is perhaps my favorite paragraph meant to demonstrate how the author goes with her gut when it comes to important decisions.  “I actually had my personal, life-transforming experience in Egypt, seated inside the Great Pyramid at Giza in the Kings Chamber when I felt my choice of my second husband was a mistake, and someone else was out there for me. I called my banker fiancée as soon as I left the Pyramid on my camel, only to find that he had taken the opportunity of my very distant desert holiday with my two sons to cheat on me at the Hilton Head golf club with his partner’s mistress.” Good instincts and even better prose!

I also enjoyed Tiel’s comments on the future of fashion — she believes that are great-grand children we’ll be inhabiting distant planets sporting “spray-on clothing” — actual clothing will reside only in museums. I loved her statement of the “World Uniform” that she observes on just about everyone while people watching in various airports except those in the Middle East. “Only one in 10 women is NOT wearing the world uniform,” she writes, which consists of black tight stretch pants and a soft top or T-shirt — in cold climates accompanied by a black puffer jacket. What struck me funny is that my daughter and I had made this same observation years ago in our suburban weekend home — actually giving it the same acronym of WU (our abbreviation for “Westchester Uniform”).

Make sure you read to the very end – – the last section contains more notable “quotables” from Sophia Loren, Edith Head, Grace Kelly, Jeanne Moreau and some important fashion words from Lookonline’s own Editor-in-Chief Marilyn Kirschner.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.


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