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Searching for Beauty: The Life of Millicent Rogers Hardcover – 13 Sep 2011


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (13 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312547242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312547240
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 3.4 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,143,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Searching for Beauty "A fascinating portrait of the Standard Oil heirerss and legendary American trendsetter Millicent Rogers "Nobody knew how to live the high life like Millicent Rogers. Born into luxury, she lived in a whirl of beautiful homes, European vacations, exquisite clothing and handsome men. In "Searching for Beauty," Cherie Burns chronicles Rogers's glittering life from her days as a young girl afflicted w... Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER on 18 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Cherie Burns's biography of fashion icon Millicent Rogers, "Searching for Beauty" is a look at a woman who lived a relatively short life but has had an influence on American fashion since the 1930's. Rogers, referred to as the "Standard Oil heiress", died at the age of 50, but managed to put her mark on the fashion world by her choice of clothing and her jewelry designs.

Millicent Rogers was born in 1902 and was brought up in a world of privilege on the East Coast. A bout with rheumatic fever in her early years weakened her heart and probably accounts for her early death, but the recovery from the disease also helped to shape an inquiring mind that may have set her apart from the average society woman of the time. She married, and divorced, three times, and she had three sons from the first two marriages. Never a particularly warm or active mother, her relations with the three boys was challenging, as they were drag-alongs in her peripatetic life before WW2. She lived in Europe and the US, and often traipsed back and forth, complete with dachshunds and baggage, trying to find a place to express her own unique style. Finally, in the last few years of her life, after living in Austria, Paris, Virginia, Washington, Tuxedo Park, Southampton, New York City, and Los Angeles, she found her "home" in Taos, New Mexico.

The section about Rogers' life in Taos - then a backwater in New Mexico - is really where author Cherie Burns shines. Burns lives in Taos and knows all about the character of the town - and the characters who made up the character of the town - in the 1930's, 40's, 50's, and 60's. Taos was a town difficult to reach from Santa Fe and the train stop at Lamy and was only slightly more accessible than Los Alamos from the state capital.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 31 reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A Beautiful Book 14 Sept. 2011
By Brigid Meier - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
One might be tempted to dismiss Millicent Rogers as a spoiled, rich dilettante and as a person relocated to Taos, NM twenty years ago, I already had. After reading Cherie Burns' thoroughly researched biography, Searching For Beauty, I must revise my opinion. Because Burns' beautifully written and fully documented book brings her subject up and off the page as a sympathetic human being full of contradictions and complexities and because Rogers' seemingly glamorous, privileged life was ultimately poignant, I am now eager to dash over to The Millicent Rogers Museum and peruse her treasures on display to confirm that yes, "She really had an eye."

It is also easy to glibly condemn fashion as a frivolous form of artistic expression but Millicent Rogers was a pioneer in raising the bar and simultaneously leveling the playing field to incorporate indigenous and folk costume and jewelry into haute couture thereby creating a brave personal style for herself. Burns does not romanticize Rogers but in her clear-eyed, balanced way she portrays the nuances of a uniquely creative woman living in a unique set of circumstances of tremendous inherited wealth; Rogers not only yearned for but ultimately found, in the deepest spiritual sense far beyond her upbringing and money, True Beauty and even some measure of serenity in nature through exploring the worldview of her Taos Pueblo friends.

Searching For Beauty is a marvelous, almost novelistic, read full of historical gossip and intrigue; it would make a great gift for anyone remotely interested in the world of fashion long before Manolos. Burns' section on Rogers' life in Taos is priceless and far surpasses anything written by or about Mabel Dodge Luhan as far as evoking the spirit of that magical, eccentric enclave in Northern New Mexico. Kudos to Cherie Burns for writing a beautiful book.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Excellent biography. 18 Sept. 2011
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Cherie Burns's biography of fashion icon Millicent Rogers, "Searching for Beauty" is a look at a woman who lived a relatively short life but has had an influence on American fashion since the 1930's. Rogers, referred to as the "Standard Oil heiress", died at the age of 50, but managed to put her mark on the fashion world by her choice of clothing and her jewelry designs.

Millicent Rogers was born in 1902 and was brought up in a world of privilege on the East Coast. A bout with rheumatic fever in her early years weakened her heart and probably accounts for her early death, but the recovery from the disease also helped to shape an inquiring mind that may have set her apart from the average society woman of the time. She married, and divorced, three times, and she had three sons from the first two marriages. Never a particularly warm or active mother, her relations with the three boys was challenging, as they were drag-alongs in her peripatetic life before WW2. She lived in Europe and the US, and often traipsed back and forth, complete with dachshunds and baggage, trying to find a place to express her own unique style. Finally, in the last few years of her life, after living in Austria, Paris, Virginia, Washington, Tuxedo Park, Southampton, New York City, and Los Angeles, she found her "home" in Taos, New Mexico.

The section about Rogers' life in Taos - then a backwater in New Mexico - is really where author Cherie Burns shines. Burns lives in Taos and knows all about the character of the town - and the characters who made up the character of the town - in the 1930's, 40's, 50's, and 60's. Taos was a town difficult to reach from Santa Fe and the train stop at Lamy and was only slightly more accessible than Los Alamos from the state capital. Even today, the "High Road" from Santa Fe to Taos takes two hours or so to drive through breath-taking scenery.

Seventy or so years ago, people really had to want to get to Taos. And many people did. Mabel Dodge Luhan had settled there from the East Coast and served as the mavin of the art/society center of Taos. She sponsored many Native American artists, as did others who had moved from the east coast.Burns quotes an author, Lois Rudnick, who wrote a definitive biography of Mabel Dodge Luhan, when writing about the Taos of that era. Though Rogers only lived in Taos for the final five or six years of her life, her influence in the design of jewelry in the Native American style helped to begin a trend that continues today. Burns gives an excellent overview of the "Taos style", with Rogers' connection to it. And after her death in 1953, her sons set up the "Millicent Rogers Museum" in Taos, which is devoted to her life and work and influence on the arts.

Curiously, even thought I live in Santa Fe and have been to Taos a few times, I had never heard of the "Millicent Rogers Museum". I only knew of Rogers through her chapter in Annette Tapert's "The Power of Style", which was published in the mid-1990's. I learned about Burns' book through an article in David Patrick Columbia's blog, "NYSD", which featured the book and its author. Only after buying and reading the book, did I realise the Taos connection. To me, Millicent Rogers had been an ultra-stylish fashion "muse", who never smiled in her pictures. This last point is fairly important, because in the pictures of her without a smile, she looks lifeless. A "hanger" on which to put beautiful clothes. In a few of the pictures in Cherie Burns' book, she is smiling and her presence is totally transformed into a figure with "life" and pizzazz.

Cherie Burns' biography of Millicent Rogers is very well written and gives her life in the greater context of the world of fashion and the world at-large. (Particularly interesting was an incredibly perceptive letter by Rogers about the role of the United States and the condition of the Germans after WW2).
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Better have a good imagination if you buy the Kindle edition! 29 Sept. 2011
By Adelaide - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was enormously disappointed in the Kindle edition of this book, as in addition to reading it, I had looked forward to seeing what has been described as eight pages of photos--really important to a book so concerned with fashion as this is. As far as I was able to discover--and I've read the Kindle edition through--there is exactly one photo in that edition--a frontespiece portrait of Millicent Rogers. What a disappointment! I would gladly have paid more for the print edition to get the photos.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
SAME OLD STORY 11 Oct. 2011
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've seen Millicent Rogers' name and photograph in fashion magazines, and I was curious to learn more about her life. Alas, she was just another unhappy rich woman who sought fulfillment by acquiring unsuitable husbands, emotionally unavailable lovers, and trunks full of clothing and jewelry, all the while complaining about her finances. Buying homes, furniture, jewelry and clothes were her main occupations. Certainly, she wasn't interested in being a good example to her three sons.
She is quoted as feeling "blood ties" to Taos NM, but her shopping trips to the Taos Pueblo (under the guise of watching Indian dancing and ceremonies) and her habit of serving liquor to the Indians tell us another story. Her admiration for Indian men, "so male and powerful", borders on obsession.
Are descriptions of designer clothing and compulsive shopping enough to fill 350 pages? Unfortunately, no.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Mediocre research + bad editing 28 Dec. 2011
By Jean - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although this work becomes "meatier" when it turns to tracing Millicent Rogers' interest in and influence on fashion and design, much of this biography is thin and reads like a patched-together college-level research project. Who uses Wikipedia as a source in a legitimate work? And the editing is so poor, it made me cringe at the confusing pronoun references, unnecessary tense shifts, and incorrect use of quotes, etc. Odd analogies abound, such as when the author compares Millicent's father's scheming attempts to end her first marriage to "George Steinbrenner's buying and selling a baseball player." Some word choices are just wrong, such as when Burns describes Millicent's first husband's weak financial prospects, saying, "He did meddle in the antique business" meaning, I'm pretty sure, that he "dabbled" in the antique business. Paragraphs are frequently over-long and cover so much ground, it's hard to find the point. All this, and the lack of photographs in the Kindle version, make this a very disappointing purchase.
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