(Courtesy of Simon & Schuster)
(Courtesy of Simon & Schuster)

To many, the world of fashion is often viewed as an industry exclusive to the elite and glamorous. As an industry that is founded on what people wear and getting noticed by street photographers, it's difficult not to see as a far away land, especially with shows like "The City" and films like "The Devil Wears Prada," that perpetuate the concept that is fashion: a world of free gifts, clothes, and unlimited access to the top products the world has to offer–not to mention traveling the world for fashion week. Amy Odell gives you the truth of the fashion industry.

In her first book, "Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider's View from Inside the Fashion Industry," Amy Odell, editor of Cosmopolitan.com, gives an inside look at what a job in fashion journalism is like for us mere mortals. Odell talks about the fashion industry in a way the everyday fashion lover will understand–even those not interested in fashion will understand. She breaks the fashion industry down to the stitches, demystifying that entire world.

Known for starting New York Magazine's fashion and beauty blog, "The Cut," back in 2008, Odell writes "Tales from the Back Row" (Simon & Schuster) in a series of brutally honest anecdotes that allow the reader to follow her through her career path as she navigates how one can survive working in such a lucrative, premiere market. In particular, we see the side of fashion journalism that is ever-present on our fingertips–digital platforms. Each chapter features anecdotes of Odell's career, as she justifies sweatpants as fashion to her then-boyfriend-now-husband, reports on parties, interviews with the ultimate fashion idol Anna Wintour, and more. Odell makes the reader feel as though you're her best friend and she's telling you of the latest crazy stories that she calls just another day at work. One of the memorable moments from "Tales from the Back Row" involves shoving a recorder in Jay-Z's face and asking (shouting) what he smells like.

(Photo by Kathleen Kamphausen)
(Photo by Kathleen Kamphausen)

All of these anecdotes give readers an insight into what it's like working in an industry that can be so difficult to break into, and notes that it's not nearly as glamorous as it seems. We join Odell in her journey of t-shirts and jeans in the office in the back row of fashion shows to a coveted interview at Vogue to learning how to pack from Anna Dello Russo, all the while getting the inside look at what it's truly like to be a part of the fashion industry, and where the love of fashion comes from.

Her descriptions of the world of fashion couldn't be any more honest. Amazed at how a pair of ripped tights can be considered fashion and questioning women who can wear the heaviest of sweaters and layers on a blistering hot day, Odell tells it like it is, and isn't afraid of hiding her thoughts. Fashion people such as Anna Dello Russo become larger-than-life characters who define fashion in this hilarious memoir, and we learn that Odell realizes that as she gets closer to the inside.

In the end we all wonder, is fashion really THAT big of a deal? As Amy Odell's journey as a fashion journalism novice to an editor and reach the point of where she is in her career today, we finally learn how fashion plays a role in all of our lives.


An Outsider's View from the Inside the Fashion Industry

Simon & Schuster $25

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