April 25, 2011- Research

            For my latest research I read Chloe Leiberman (Sometimes Wong), a novel by Carrie Rosten. Now this may not sound like the usual fashion research book, which it isn’t, but this is because I felt it was time for something new. For my past research entries I have written about facts, so I wanted to read a story, something where I would find a character I could relate to. I felt a fictional novel would help me understand the personalities of the business of fashion, not just the façade that all must put on to be professional. So I entered my school’s library and found Chloe Leiberman.
            The novel began with a little opening blurb that told the reader about a high school senior name Chloe Leiberman (sometimes Wong). She was half Chinese, half Jewish and her parents had high hopes of her becoming a doctor/lawyer/person that makes money, but Chloe had other things on her mind. She had a passion for fashion (which was completely unacceptable to her parents), so instead of applying to parent pleasing Ivy League colleges, she applied nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. But Chloe had one dream and that was a fashion school in London, so armed with that one dream “Chloe finally sent this, what you’re about to read, to design school. It’s like an application but not. It’s a little long and strange and unconventional but so, as you shall see, is Chloe” (pg. 1). Thus begins the novel and a journey into the life of a high school fashionista not too unlike myself.
            The book is split up into several parts as you would see on any college application. Part One: Personal Data/Family. Here Chloe tell about her life in Wells Park California (yup, that’s a real place!) and where we first hear about her self-proclaimed FD, or fashion disorder. Chloe claims to experience uncontrollable hallucinations of sorts in which suddenly everyone around her could be turned from frumpy to fabulous featuring looks “she had totally created and approved!” (pg. 22). Part Two: Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you. First we hear about Chloe’s next door neighbor, La Contessa Coco l’Orange, or La Contessa for short. No one is quite sure how she obtained her money, but this woman plays a large role in showing Chloe what high fashion truly is. As a woman who wears a mink coat in the summer heat of Southern California, she is a slave to fashion and the extreme of the novel. Then we hear about Chloe’s friend Spring, whom has no interest in fashion and would prefer to blend in as much as possible. Part Three: Extracurricular Activities. Of course this part can’t be complete without shopping as an activity. Here you truly see Chloe’s creativity and talent for fashion and design. As she creates new looks from old flea market buys the reader realizes that fashion is not just an interest for Chloe but something she is truly talented at. In the end, Chloe goes onto design a line of clothing inspired by California for her portfolio, but we never know whether or not she is accepted into the school.
            This novel showed me that just when you think that you are ‘too strange’ someone will come and prove you are just the right amount of strange. As I read Chloe’s story I found not just a girl I related to on the surface, but emotionally as well. She helped me to realize that there are all different personalities in the industry of fashion, some you will understand and others you will not, but all whom you will have to be able to work with. Although I did not learn much about fashion, styling, or art, I did learn about myself and how necessary it is to believe in yourself no matter your quirks.

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