Book Review: The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza


In this digital day and age, a decade is an eternity.  That’s how long those of us at Meniscus Magazine have been attending and covering runway shows at New York Fashion Week, shifting from a print ‘zine to a full-blown website, with a steadily escalating portfolio of events across the world.  Likewise, the transition from a traditional print magazine mentality to an around-the-clock social media blitz has proven to be a boost and a headache to the fashion industry, with tweets and mobile photos in some cases trumping actual editorial content.  Exclusivity is no longer sacred and the actual fashion is secondary, with bloggers and street style photographers rushing past the velvet rope to see how far they can run ahead of each other.

the-knockoff-bookImagine, then, how 15 years must feel to the main protagonist in The Knockoff, a novel co-authored by former Marie Claire fashion director Lucy Sykes (twin sister of former Vogue contributing editor Plum) and journalist Jo Piazza.  Like Sykes, the character of Imogen Tate is a British expat turned New Yorker and a married mother of two.  Imogen finds herself reeling from a forced six-month break, returning to a fashion magazine that she no longer recognizes.  The push for pageviews has transformed Glossy from a monthly print publication to a website and an app, and the former assistant she once carefully mentored, Eve Morton, has been rehired as an editorial director, posing an immediate threat to Imogen’s job as editor in chief.  Can Imogen learn how to tweet, post photos on Instagram and work with a content management system before time runs out?

With an assured, comedic and somewhat terrifying look at the tech changes sweeping the fashion industry, Sykes and Piazza leave no stone unturned with their ripped-from-the-headlines take on Imogen’s fight for professional survival.  Millennials receive a few too many knocks on the side of the head, but in a way this approach makes the Imogen vs. Eve battle more compelling.  Rather than dissect the character of Eve in particular – and figure out why a freshly-minted Harvard MBA graduate would overuse emojis in e-mails or force her staff to attend SoulCycle classes (parodied in the book as “Spirit Cycle”) – one should instead consider her to be a caricature of sorts, a walking encapsulation of every self-indulging behavioral pitfall this current digital age, including but not limited to oversharing, strategically planted leaks to Gawker-like blogs, social media and online bullying.  With these external factors in mind, The Knockoff can be considered The Devil Wears Prada 2.0.  The novel cheerfully manages to stay light despite such heavy topics, although one salivates at the possibility of a much darker movie adaptation.

The Knockoff was the Birchbox Book Club pick for April and is published by Doubleday.  For more information, go to