New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981, 1987, 1996. Three volumes, measuring from 9.25 to 8 inches high and 5.25 to 6 inches wide: xii, 270, ; , 204, ; , xv, , 247, . Original cloth spines lettered in gilt, paper boards stamped in gilt, original unclipped color printed dust jackets. Light sunning to jacket of The Fashionable Mind, with one tiny closed tear. Knopf publicity department card printed “with the compliments of the author” laid into Scenes from the Fashionable World. Ornament and Silence inscribed by the author to Ann Thorne; Thorne’s bookplate on half-title and occasional annotations throughout text.
First edition run of Kennedy Fraser’s three collections of essays: The Fashionable Mind (1981), Scenes from the Fashionable World (1987), and Ornament and Silence (1996), inscribed by Fraser in the final volume. Fraser joined the staff of The New Yorker in the late 1960s: “I was twenty-two when [William] Shawn invited me to write for the magazine on fashion, a subject about which I knew nothing apart from what I had absorbed from reading Baudelaire and from being part of that generation in England that first adopted the miniskirt. Shawn seemed to consider my ignorance of my subject and even of the magazine an advantage, on the whole.” Over the next two decades, Fraser learned on the job, producing a series of sparkling, pointed critical essays that have become cult classics. Her first two collections include New Yorker pieces published from 1970 to 1986: featured designers include Balenciaga, Valentino, Calvin Klein, Geoffrey Beene, Anne Klein, Willi Smith, Issey Miyake, Norma Kamali, and Mary McFadden. After Shawn’s departure as editor in 1987, Fraser moved beyond the fashion beat, focusing on the interior lives of “creative women – in love affairs, friendships, marriages, and families; in relation to each other and to talented men.” Her final collection, Ornament and Silence, contains essays on Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, and Nina Berberova, among others. The Fashionable Mind and Scenes from the Fashionable World are both out of print; the first edition of The Fashionable Mind is particularly scarce in collectable condition. This copy of Ornament and Silence is warmly inscribed to philanthropist Ann Thorne (1922-2010): “For Ann / with every good wish / Kennedy Fraser / NY 1997.” For some years, Thorne organized the literary programming at the Colony Club, the first women’s social club in New York City: Thorne's thoughtful annotations suggest that she may have moderated a discussion with Fraser upon the book's release. A near-fine inscribed first edition run of a great essayist.