4.5 stars, rounded up because this is a must-read: for those who believe in the transformative power of shopping and those who don't; for people who consider themselves unaffected by advertising and for those who notice the dramatic decrease in the quality of clothing they buy.
A quotation I found (which didn't make it into the book, but encapsulates the message of at least a large portion of it) comes from Jean-Louis Dumas, the late chairman of the Hermès group from 1978 until 2006: "We don't have a policy of image, we have a policy of product." (Source: a Vanity Fair article - http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2007/0... )
The book is about masstige vs. old-school luxury, changing self-perception of social classes, cynical creation of needs by companies such as LVMH, the behemoth of the luxury industry. Dana Thomas taught me to see past the advertising used by luxury brands, cured me of the remainders of my perfume snobbery, gave me numbers proving that buying fakes of any kind means supporting organised crime and terrrorism. Also, I will never shop at Sephora again.
Thomas contrasts LVMH, too strongly at times, with representatives of the last big fashion houses - those independent ones and those with a significant degree of independence - and 'fashion refugees": designers and perfumers who refused to play the game and deliver perfectly crafted, unique products. A great book to set your consumer priorities right.