The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris is, hands down, the best book ever on contemporary fashion. Unlike the cheeky roman a clefs that have such currency, it’s non-fiction and courageous: none of the names have been changed (and what names!!!). Which, alas, is why it’s no surprise that it’s gotten next to no attention from the fashion press, for whom protecting their own from inconveniences like the truth is priority number one. But what’s worse, what’s really depressing beyond words, is that it’s gotten precious little notice from the non-fashion press. Chanel’s brilliant designer, the peripatetic polymath Karl Lagerfeld, has railed against it and it’s no wonder, as author Alicia Drake mercilessly deconstructs his carefully contrived image(s). His once-upon-a-time friend and ever-since rival Yves Saint Laurent fares better (if being portrayed as a drug-and-alcohol soaked solipsist is better). The book works despite the fact (or perhaps because) neither protagonist granted an interview to the writer. Besides the obvious fact that Chanel ads are worth a lot more to most newspapers and magazines than a review of a gutsy book, there are two reasons why it currently languishes at number 3,000-something on amazon’s best-seller list: The title tells you nothing. And the cover is equally dreadful, green type over a murky shot of the Eiffel Tower that has nothing whatsoever to do with the secret world Drake reveals in all its decadent glory: a sex-and-drugs-soaked milieu that was the petri dish in which today’s febrile fashion-celebrity culture was born.