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Jesse Kornbluth

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Vicky Tiel Dressed Hollywood Women. And Undressed for Warren, Elvis, Marlon...

Posted: 09/12/11 08:47 AM ET

A fashion designer writes a memoir. Yes, she's talented, imaginative, courageous. But she's AARP-aged, and although she describes herself -- accurately, I believe -- as "the longest-surviving female designer in Paris," you don't know anything about her.

So how little could you care about her book?

Forgot to mention: She's extravagantly endowed.

Forgot to mention: She loves sex.

Forgot to mention: She tells so much more than she needs to that I can think of one very married man -- he's always paraded his wife as his partner -- who has to hope the Mrs. doesn't stumble onto this book.

Which is to say: It's All About the Dress: What I Learned in Forty Years About Men, Women, Sex, and Fashion is absolutely delicious, an I-can't-believe-I'm-reading-it-but-I-can't-put-it-down romp of a book, full of celebrity dish, unexpectedly sage advice and a batch of toothsome recipes. (To buy the book from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.)

Who is Vicky Tiel? Her creations are perennials at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. She made a dress for Ursula Andress that lured Belmondo from his wife. That hot bustier Julia Roberts wore in Pretty Woman -- that's Vicky. She dressed Elizabeth Taylor for two decades. (The difference between the caftans she made for Liz and an ordinary caftan: "an empire seam under the bust that pushed up the breasts into a décolleté V so no bra was needed.")

"What are you -- a child or a woman?" Coco Chanel asked her.

"I am you -- when you were young," Vicky said.

But this is less a book about clothes than it is about a high-spirited, fun-loving woman taking off her clothes -- and the men she took her clothes off for, and what they did once they tumbled into bed. Like: Warren Beatty. (He could go for hours, but didn't complete his side of the experience because he had a Serious Lover he was seeing later and she'd know if he was... depleted.) Woody Allen. (Long story, unlikely punch line -- Vicky missed her assignation with him because she'd just met the man she'd marry and she couldn't find her way out of bed.) Marlon Brando. Elvis Presley. And... and....

Advice? Vicky has plenty. Like: How To Dress To Snag A Man:

Wear lace: Specifically black lace with some skin showing through. Or wear spaghetti straps that tend to fall off your shoulders. Show your best part: For many women, that is the shoulders and the top of the breasts. How do you excite a man or your husband if you look like every other girl? Empower yourself! If you have good legs, wear the shortest skirt possible: 'I saw a young woman in Manhattan recently showing off fabulous legs in very short shorts. She wasn't that beautiful, her face was so-so, but she'll get a man in four blocks!'

Stories? They're the meat of the book. Like:

Once Elizabeth Taylor went to a dinner party after Sophia Loren's jewelry was stolen in Paris. The two women had always been competitive. Wearing her emeralds proudly, Elizabeth said, 'I'm so sorry, Sophia, to hear about the robbery. I see you are wearing no jewelry.' 'No, dear,' Sophia said, opening her arms to display her enormous bust and a low-cut Dior. 'I'm wearing my skin.'

The wisest line in the book, though, comes from Vicky's father: "If you marry for security and don't have your own money, you're going to have to have sex with your husband if you want a pair of shoes."

Vicky made her own money. Her second marriage has been a keeper. Now 67, she looks decades younger, thanks to "having a husband 13 years younger, a great diet of healthy foods and a lot of sex."

As role models go, we could all do a lot worse.

[Cross-posted from HeadButler.com]