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>When Richard and I went to Paris a few years ago, I was intent upon visiting the House of Balmain, where I purchased a beautiful tie from their small men’s collection. But I was less interested in shopping than I was in seeing the place where Valentine O’Neill began her career as a fashion designer. Valentine is fictional, a character in Judith Krantz’s Scruples, a book that positively sizzles with brand-name-dropping, put there not as paid product placement but as verisimilitude of an especially glamorous kind.

So I’m a little impatient with the argument that we should be worried about brand names in YA fiction. I could certainly get into a fine frothing if the YA series actually whored themselves out to the highest brand-name bidder, which would be both sneaky and lazy: if it doesn’t matter if your heroine wears Chanel or Balmain you haven’t thought hard enough about her. But that’s not what’s happening, and I am more scandalized that the Times article pimped this possibility so heavily only to reveal that it had no basis in fact. Yet.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Brilliant!I’ve been meaning to re-read Scruples. Haven’t read it since I was 14, and how I loved it then!

    But really, why would Chanel product place in a book for Pre-teens? Hardly their target market. Does this person listen to rap music, also a bastion of product placement? And who are these “librarians” asking for the books to be taken off the shelf. Shame on them (if they exist)

  2. janeyolen says:

    >I am more worried about you shopping in the “small men’s collection” as I remember you as tall. (LOL)


  3. Roger Sutton says:

    >I just realized I posted about Paris on Bastille Day. Totally an accident but how magnifique!

  4. Anonymous says:

    >They are promoting COSMETICS, not clothes. Well within the young teen allowance. And by the way, wasn’t it Judith Krantz who was paid by Bulgari to include one of their pieces in a novel – and did not hesitate to let the world know she thought it was OK. Don’t remember the publisher – alas!

  5. Roger Sutton says:

    >No–that was Fay Weldon, and The Bulgari Connection . Interesting that Weldon is considered the higher-brow of the two.

  6. Anonymous says:

    >They are promoting COSMETICS – not clothing – well within the budgets of young teens (and the chick-lit adult readers).
    And wasn’t it Judith Krantz who was paid by Bulgari to feature a piece of jewelry in one of her novels? (And didn’t hesitate to let the world know she thought it was OK.)

  7. Anonymous says:

    >some blunder here re. Bulgari. sorry for the repetition and thanks for the correction

  8. Anonymous says:

    >oops – sorry for the repetition and thanks for the correction

  9. swarmofbeasts says:

    >It’s not something I’ll get all het up about, but I feel like I read fiction – especially in high school! – to get away from the world where it matters so much to have the right jeans and the right cosmetics and the right everything.

    On the other hand, most of the readers of teen boys-and-shopping fic probably feel differently.

  10. Anonymous says:

    >(From one who is late to the party.) Is one permitted to ask: WHO IS TOM GUNN?

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