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The Fashion Industry’s James Frey

When Emily Davies, a former fashion correspondent with the Times of London, inked a very, very significant deal (rumored to be up to $900,000 for US rights alone) for her memoir HOW TO WEAR BLACK last December, naturally it made people sit up and take notice, me included. But as it turns out, all was not what it seemed, and the deal has been struck down, with Scribner cancelling the contract, according to the yesterday’s edition of the NY Daily News.

So what on earth happened? Thank Women’s Wear Daily’s Jeff Bercovici, whose March 17 piece carefully outlined Davies’ purported fabrications and plagiarism, with many New York fashion-types quoted by name in the 79-page proposal stating that they’d never heard of Davies, and certainly had never met her. And one quote that Davies used in her proposal was allegedly lifted from a 1998 New York Times’ article by Monique Yazigi, who was even more miffed because she’s shopping a book proposal of her own — based on that very article.

The further one digs, the more things look shady for Ms. Davies. She was fired from the Times for irregularities in expense claims, and according to the Independent, “in 2004 the Financial Times complained she had used excerpts from a shopping column by Susie Boyt so as to make it appear she had interviewed the writer.” Of course, her boyfriend — Times journalist and author Jonathan Gornall — leaped to Davies’ defense, but it didn’t seem to help in this case.

And though Simon Trewin, head of PFD agency (which represents Davies) was unavailable for comment to the Daily News, he did post to the backblog of romance writer HelenKay Dimon’s site saying the following: “HOW TO WEAR BLACK takes the lid off the fashion world in a way I have never seen done before. It isn’t surface, it isn’t glam-lit and you will have never read anything like it before.” Evidently, Trewin was wrong…

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