Book Review: Influence

When I heard last year that the Olsen twins would be releasing a book chronicling their fashion influences, my mind immediately flashed towards the Paris Hilton-penned Confessions of an Heiress – after all, it seemed like another set of tabloid darlings were trying to add “author” to their resumés. But, to their credit, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s coffee table book, Influence, is not another collection of gaudy images depicting Chihuahuas in pink tutus. True, neither one of the Olsen twins is a particularly innovative writer, but the content of the book is mostly made up with of the words of others, composed largely of in-depth interviews with a total of twenty fashion designers, models, photographers, artists and editors.

What Mary-Kate and Ashley lack in writing skill, they more than make up for with their eye for talent and knack for asking intelligent interview questions that other publications seem to gloss over. Granted, the artists they talk to are interesting enough on their own, including the likes of Karl Lagerfeld, Terry Richardson and Peter Beard, but the interviews cut to the core of their work, focusing on the entire span of each career from their origins to the struggles faced along the way. They are accompanied by richly detailed visuals, including a 1976 Newsweek cover featuring Diane Von Furstenburg and a letter Diana Vreeland wrote to journalist Bob Colacello concerning a magazine article about Josephine Baker.

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