From Joan Juliet Buck, former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris and “one of the most compelling personalities in the world of style” (New York Times) comes her dazzling, compulsively readable memoir: a fabulous account of four decades spent in the creative heart of London, New York, Los Angeles, and Paris—“If you loved The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll adore The Price of Illusion” (Elle).
In a book as rich and dramatic as the life she’s led, Joan Juliet Buck takes us into the splendid illusions of film, fashion, and fame to reveal, in stunning, sensual prose, the truth behind the artifice.
The only child of a volatile movie producer betrayed by his dreams, she became a magazine journalist at nineteen to reflect and record the high life she’d been brought up in, a choice that led her into a hall of mirrors where she was both magician and dupe. After a career writing for Vogue and Vanity Fair, she was named the first American woman to edit Vogue Paris. The vivid adventures of this thoughtful, incisive writer at the hub of dreams across two continents over fifty years are hilarious and heartbreaking.
Including a spectacular cast of carefully observed legends, monsters, and stars (just look at the index!), this is the moving account of a remarkable woman’s rocky passage through glamour and passion, filial duty and family madness, in search of her true self.
From the very beginning of this lapidary memoir, Buck (The Only Place to Be) is immersed in illusion. Her father, Jules Buck, was a cinematographer for John Huston before founding Keep Films with Peter O'Toole. Joan inherited her father's eye for props, but while he used them to create feeling, she read feeling into them. Her elegant descriptions are glued together with a mortar of famous names (Jeanne Moreau, Lauren Bacall, Anjelica Huston). None of her youthful flirtations (Tom Wolfe) and more-than-flirtations (Donald Sutherland) lasted: "I couldn't read humans as easily as I could read the meaning of their clothes." In 1994, she became editor of French Vogue and spiraled into a psychedelic head trip of beautiful objects set against her gathering anxiety and her father's mental illness. She was let go in 2001 after a stint in rehab, not for chemical dependency but for what she sees as an addiction to the "glossy view of life." She relapsed with a puff piece for American Vogue on Bashar al-Assad's wife. For the most part, she shies away from self-analysis: her divorce from John Heilpern, a onetime contributing editor to Vanity Fair, is dismissed with a terse "I'd tried to have a normal life, and failed." Yet overall, Buck includes a brilliant amount of detail in this memoir.