11 March, 2016

#BookReview :: The X Factor: Confessions of a Naive Fashion Model by Ivan Sivec

It takes three mistakes to be swallowed up and spat out by the fashion industry. You trust the wrong people. You think you know everything there is to know about life. You take drugs. Maja started off as a regular 17-year-old high-school kid, fighting her inner insecurities while dreaming to become an actress like Marilyn Monroe. At a party her boyfriend Klemen introduces her to a renowned modelling agent. He sees a special X Factor hidden insight her. And a great business opportunity for himself... Fast forward a few weeks later. Maja's charm and talent land her a modelling contract in the trendy and exciting fashion capital of Milan. She's completely enchanted and determined to make it in the fashion world. But things don't turn out the way she had planned. Exhausting long photo shoots, stressful fashion shows, strict dieting and wild parties start taking their toll on her soon enough. In desperate search for help Maja reaches out to her agent and other false friends from the fashion industry that emotionally and physically exploit her to the point where 'Maja the Great' is merely a shadow of her former self. She starts battling drug addiction that ends up in a tragic event. Maja has been finally swallowed up and spit out by the fashion industry with its endless traps. What price will the girl with the X Factor have to pay for her naivety? 

Personally I couldn’t care less about fashion or the fashion industry. It is one thing I do not understand at all and whenever I ‘discover’ the latest trends I just shake my head and move on. However, it is the size zero craze that caught my attention as frankly size zero models always looked like they were malnourished and on the brink of death and never sexy to me. Anyway, my point was that I did wonder what went on the minds of these fashionistas and this book seemed to offer a glimpse. So I picked up this book with the hopes of understanding how it all works.

Maja used to be an average girl till she is introduced to an agent from the fashion industry. Charmed by the glamour and allured by the promise of fame and name, Maja soon finds herself in the industry. Her life becomes full of strict diet and long tiring days. The glamourous life, the money and fame came with a price – Maja loses herself in the world of rat races and sharks have her cornered. 

The X Factor is based on a true story and that fact makes it really hard to read some parts of the book and to believe some of the things. This is a really brutal story and I felt really bad for Maja. The worst part was all the betrayals from the people she counted as friends. Toughest times can be handled if one has friends around and Maja was alone. The characters in the book will touch you – you will either love or hate them. They have been well developed throughout and it was not possible to remain indifferent towards any of the characters who played a significant role in the story.  The narrative seemed to falter once or twice – but I do not know if it is because of the translation or not.

I am however in two minds about recommending this book to young minds. On one hand this is like an expose on the fashion industry that could help aspiring models to get into the industry with their eyes open. On the other hand this could be quite a disturbing read as well. So, pick this up with caution. Overall, this book felt uncompromisingly direct and honest and as such made an impression on me.

Review Copy received from the Author

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