Inspired by Celia Hartmann’s lightning talk Charles James at the annual conference, I poked around Amazon and landed on the new biography Charles James: Portrait of an Unreasonable Man: Fame, Fashion, Art. Sounds like a must for anyone fascinated by this incredible designer!
Check out the review of the book How to Read a Dress: A Guide to Changing Fashion from the 16th to the 20th Century on NPR.org:
Library Journal put together a special set of fashion reviews, and you can read them online whether or not your institution subscribes:
Two reviews are by yours truly!
This past weekend the Adrian G. Marcuse Library at LIM College hosted the fifth annual Fashion: Now & Then Conference. Several of the presenters have recently published fashion titles and I found them quite interesting and wanted to share them with the group.
Daniel James Cole and Nancy Deihl
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
Melinda Camber Porter and Joseph Robert Flicek
With the semester behind us all, it’s a good time to slowly catch up on various books that we’ve had our eye on. There are three recent titles* that have caught my eye that I hope to peruse this summer break:
Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers by Teri Agins
Hollywood stars have always furthered fashion’s cause of seducing the masses into buying designers’ clothes by acting as living billboards. Now, red carpet celebrities are no longer content to just advertise and are putting their names on labels that reflect the image they―or their stylists―created.
Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sean Combs, and a host of pop, sports, and reality―show stars of the moment are leveraging the power of their celebrity to become the face of their own fashion brands. And a few celebrities―like the Olsen Twins and Victoria Beckham―have gone all the way and reinvented themselves as bona fide designers.
Teri Agins charts this strange new terrain with with and insight and an insider’s access to the fascinating struggles of the bold―type names and their jealousies, insecurities, and triumphs.
Dress, Fashion, and Technology: From Prehistory to the Present by Phyllis G. Tortora
Technology has been an essential factor in the production of dress and the cultures of fashion throughout human history. Structured chronologically from prehistory to the present day, this is the first broad study of the complex relationship between dress and technology.
Over the course of human history, dress-making and fashion technology has changed beyond recognition: from needles and human hands in the ancient world to complex 20th-century textile production machines, it has now come to include the technologies that influence dress styles and the fashion industry, while fashion itself may drive aspects of technology. In the last century, new technologies such as the electronic media and high-tech manufacturing have helped not just to produce but to define fashion: the creation of automobiles prompted a decline in long skirts for women while the beginnings of space travel caused people to radically rethink the function of dress. In many ways, technology has itself created avant-garde and contemporary fashions.
Through an impressive range of international case studies, the book challenges the perception that fashion is unique to western dress and outlines the many ways in which dress and technology intersect. Dress, Fashion and Technology is ideal reading for students and scholars of fashion studies, textile history, anthropology and cultural studies.
Fashioning the Body: An Intimate History of the Silhouette edited by Denis Bruna
This unique survey offers fascinating insights into the convoluted transformations employed by both men and women to accommodate the fickle dictates of fashion. With high design, wit, and style, Fashioning the Body tracks the evolution of these sartorial devices—from panniers, crinolines, and push-up bras to chains, zippers, and clasps—concealed beneath outer layers in order to project idealized figures. Women’s corsets constricted waists; exaggerated buttocks and hips counterbalanced jutting bust lines; and chic, aerodynamic silhouettes compressed breasts and flattened bellies. Yet masculine fashion has been no stranger to these tortuous practices. Men flaunted their virility by artificially broadening their shoulders, applying padding to their chests, and slipping codpieces over their groins. With more than 200 beautiful illustrations—including reproductions of superb historic advertisements—Denis Bruna reveals the industry and art of these contrivances meant to entice and beguile as well as assert status and power. Contemporary haute-couture designers Thierry Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier, Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons, Christian Lacroix, and Vivienne Westwood are featured in this indiscreet tour of intimate fashion history.
*Descriptions came from Amazon.com.
Typically a fashion lookbook provides an overview of a designers’ collection as a marketing tool. The Schiffer Fashion Press’s (SFP) Lookbook Series takes that concept to another level by presenting a comprehensive overview of an entire season at New York Fashion Week. You could probably collect this information by browsing through an assortment of magazines and blogs, but this format is a single, cohesive big-picture snapshot, providing an experience that would be hard to replicate. The latest 4th edition, The SFP LookBook Atelier to Runway: New York Fashion Week Spring 2015 follows this template. Like its predecessors, it includes hundreds of full color photos highlighting the trends for the season in clothing, hair, accessories and makeup. For spring 2015 there is a rich and diverse range of motifs, expressed in bold pattern, texture, color and layered structure.
What is new for this edition, as the title suggests, is more of a focus on the process involved in bringing a collection from the “Atelier to the Runway”. Author Andrea Kiliany Thatcher, a fashion journalist and contributor to the Fashion Spot blog, has leveraged her access in the industry, collaborating with photographers and editors to deliver a ‘backstage pass’ to readers. While most collections are represented through runway photos with a brief mention of theme, some include more of a behind-the-scenes perspective with pre-show photos of model preparation, hair stylist interviews, and even nail art. A select few go even further, featuring interviews with the designers themselves, discussions of inspiration and concept development, sketches, swatches and more. This kind of insight into both the art and the work of being a fashion designer is a valuable tool for students and teachers and a delight for fashionistas as well.
At Sandra’s request, a list of my recently-published fashion-related book reviews, in Library Journal and Art Libraries Journal.
Review of A History of the Paper Pattern Industry: The Home Dressmaking Fashion Revolution, by Joy Spanabel Emery. Art Libraries Journal 40:1 (2015).
Review of Cecil Beaton: Portraits and Profiles, by Hugo Vickers. Library Journal139: November 15 (2014): 83.
Review of Vogue: The Gown, by Jo Ellison. Library Journal 139: November 1 (2014): 87.
Review of Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History, by Rhonda K. Garelick.Library Journal 139:September (2014): 110.
Review of The Language of Fashion Design: 26 Principles Every Fashion Designer Should Know, by Laura Volpintesta. Library Journal 139: April 15 (2014): 82.
Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation, “Digging into Digital Art History Data,” at the ARLIS conference! The panel, called Doing Digital Art History, was recorded and should eventually be available on the ARLIS/NA website.