Got your scrap of dress and used napkin? Now you know what's chic

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The Independent Online
Diana, Princess of Wales adored the photographer Mario Testino. Perhaps this was because the images he shot of her for Vanity Fair, just before her death, captured not only her looks but her spirit - a woman preparing to start over, excited about the future, writes Andrew Tuck.

Yet, oddly, Testino's most famous subject is missing from the pages of his new book, Chic. Stranger still, in this book which attempts to define what chic really is, both Prince Edward and the Queen Mother make an appearance.

The hardback book, published in a limited edition of 5,000 (not very limited) and priced pounds 65, features photographs by luminaries such as Richard Avedon and David Sims, alongside Testino's work.

Each book also contains a scrap of an emerald-coloured Versace dress that once belonged to Madonna (you also get to see a picture of her in the outfit) and a copy of a letter written by the actress and muse Catherine Deneuve to her close friend and personal tailor, Yves Saint Laurent. Then there's a serviette that's been kissed by the heavily lipsticked lips of Paloma Picasso, swatches of fabric by the Italian designers Missoni and Pucci, and a sexy sliver of Chantilly lace.

Chic is the work of the innovative American publishing firm Visionaire, which puts out four of these desirable style titles each year (European annual subscriptions are $440). Past issues have covered the Japanese fashion firm Comme des Garcons, the seven deadly sins, Cinderella and erotica.

Models (Stella Tennant, Kate Moss), designers (Bill Blass, Manolo Blahnik) and fashion stylists (Hamish Bowles, Isabella Blow) seem to define Testino's understanding of chic, but he also includes more controversial pictures of a golden shower and transvestites.

Finally, he concludes that "Chic is nothing but it is the right nothing." So, now you know.

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