‘Fffashion… It’s loud and tasteless and I’ve heard it before’ are words from a David Bowie song that have always intrigued me with their apt application to the topic of fashion. 391 covers the topics of Costume and Personal Appearance and clearly, over time, ideas about what is acceptable or desirable attire have changed.
100 Ideas That Changed Fashion by Harriet Worsley looks at a range of concepts, styles, accessories, fabrics and eras around the world that have had lasting impacts on our attitude to what we wear and how we look. Nothing is sacred or secret it seems, when it comes to fashion: Holly Madison would ‘rather go naked than wear fur’ – and does; Underwear becomes Outerwear when Madonna ‘struts her stuff’ and ‘sex sells seats’ when Texan Southwest Airlines dresses its hostesses in hot-pants. The history behind the 100 ideas is both intriguing and thought provoking.
Why’d They Wear That? Fashion as the mirror of history
by Sarah Albee is a National Geographic look at costume and fashion throughout key historical periods in the Western world from ancient times to the 20th Century. While the book is aimed at a younger audience and has a USA bias, it is fact-filled with some excellent illustrations taken from both photographic and artistic sources.
The Little Black Dress Vintage Treasure by Didier Ludot is a photo-journal look at the ‘Little Black Dress’ that made its debut in the 1940s but swept the world in the 1960s to become a fashion basic in many wardrobes. The text is brief (only 13 pages) but the black and white photographs and drawings tell their own story about this fashion sensation.
Indigo: In Search of the Color That Seduced the World
by Catherine E. McKinley is the story of the precious dye that has been the centre of many human activities including slave trading, religious and spiritual events and colonial economic history. It is also the story of fashion and a biographical account of those involved in bringing the colour to the world of fashion.
The titles in the 391s are as diverse as the items we choose to wear and have chosen to wear over human history. They include such titles as:
The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion by Tim Gunn and Johny Miller
Dress Code: The Naked Truth About Fashion by Mari Grinde Arntzen
Fashion Theory by Malcolm Barnard
Hair: Fashion and Fantasy by Laurent Philippon
The Sustainable Fashion Handbook by Sandy Black
Music Fashion and Style by Matthew Anniss
and many, many more. There are books on shoes, bags, fabrics, colours, jewellery, hair, make-up, designers and designs. There are books about why we wear what we wear and how it makes us feel. Then of course, there’s the making of what we wear – but that’s another dewey.