Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Book Spotlight: Whatever Next?

It is always interesting to hear about the lives of others. Hearing about someone's ups and downs, along with their recollections of the people and places they've known, lets us see a side of them that we may not see otherwise.

In the new memoir, Whatever Next?, readers are given a thoroughly entertaining peek into the varied life of Tony Porter. He is one of the people who spearheaded the idea of British Fashion Week 40 years ago, which is now called London Fashion Week. He helped bring British fashion to the forefront on the world stage. This is a great accomplishment on its own, however Tony has had a number of distinct careers in his storied life. He has sold high fashion for the Kensington store Biba, sold paint for ICI, owned his own fashion PR business, and has even owned beautiful Burgh Island off the coast of Devon, along with other roles he's held.

The book starts off telling of his early life, which includes his school days and stories of his parents and family. He was stricken with medical problems in his early life, but he rose above those troubles and has had an extraordinary life.

One story that I enjoyed was his recounting of his meeting as a young man with blonde bombshell Diana Dors, who some say was England's answer to Marilyn Monroe. She was a curvy beauty. Porter was attending the elegant eighteenth birthday party of one of his friends in London. There was a dare going around his group of friends wondering who would ask her for a dance. Porter ended up being pushed towards her by his friends and he got his dance with her, while all the time trying to avert his eyes from her cleavage. I found this to be an amusing anecdote that captures the fun of being young and just having a good time.

Porter came into contact with many people of note during the swinging sixties in London. This was especially true during his time working at Biba, his sister-in-law Barbara Hulanicki's Kensington store. He shares:

“Biba’s fame grew and grew on an international basis, and brought famous stars of the sixties into the shop. Twiggy, a close friend of Barbara and her husband Fitz, was often around. During my time there, Marianne Faithful, Mia Farrow, Cilla Black and Yoko Ono all came in. On one occasion, word went round that Brigitte Bardot was in the shop, and I couldn’t resist going in to see my favourite star.”

Whatever Next? is written in an entertaining and funny conversational style. I loved this book! It's like having the privilege of sitting in Tony Porter's presence as he tells the intriguing story of his life so far. As a reader, I found myself getting to the end of the book and saying the title out loud to myself as I truly wondered, whatever next for this interesting man. What a life!

Tony Porter

Whatever Next? is available here or on Amazon UK.

*Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. All opinions are mine.

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