Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Not your average coffee table books.

As a perpetual student and lover of books, I make it a point to go to a bookstore every couple of weeks.  It's kind of like a form of yoga for me, in that it is relaxing, I love the smell, and I'm giving myself the chance to learn something, either from a book or about myself.  I've always said that I hope bookstores stay in business for as long as I'm alive and don't die with the advancement of digitil books and technology.  My favorite book store in Chicago was The Book Table in Oak Park.  I always found something right up my alley or discovered something I hadn't heard about yet when I went in there.  In Memphis, I always go to the Booksellers at Laurelwood, formally Davis-Kidd.  All the staff there is so nice and hospitable (as they should be, being Southern men and women..) ANYways, I bring up bookstores because there are a few books dedicated to fashion that I hope to see on the shelves of my favorite bookstore soon.

Hollywood's hold on the pulse of fashion is influential even today.  This book highlights 35 films that have influenced not only fashion but also style in their own time and continue to inspire today.  Not only is the character from one of my favorite movies, "Bonnie and Clyde" with the gorgeous Faye Dunaway, on the cover of this book, but I am also so excited that a book has been written about the actual costume designers of some of the most iconic movies of our time.  So many know of the little black dress from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" or the little white dress from "Seven Year Itch", but how often does anyone hear the accounts of the designers who sketched them or the costume production team that so fatefully choose those garments.  Expect to see this book in bookstores on October 16th.

The memoir of the beautiful Grace Coddington, creative director of Vogue, is bound to be filled with a story worth taking note of for any aspiring fashion die-hard. Out on November 20th, Grace is the memoir of a woman who rose through the world of fashion as a young model in London and would eventually become the right hand woman of Anna Wintour. Her creative vision has shaped the pages of Vogue for many years and a peak inside the world of Grace Coddington is certain not to disappoint.

My first encounter with the work of Antonio Lopez was the drawings included in the Charles James exhibit at the Chicago History Museum last fall. This book cronicles the life and influence of Antonio Lopez.  He created a vast collection of illustrations, photos, and paintings working with some of the most revered and respected designers, including Yves Saint Laurent and Versace among many more.  This book by Roger and Mauricio Padhilha, with an introduction by Andre Leon Talley, an epilogue by Anna Sui and contributions from Bill Cunningham, is the first of its kind featuring Antonio Lopez and will certainly be a must have for the collections of historical institutions as well as fashion moguls worldwide.  Look for it on September 4th!

This book is definitely the most coffee table-esque out of the others just because it mainly features photos.  However, as a forever follower of anything Lagerfeld touches, I will definitely be checking this book out.  This book does reflect on the timelessness of Coco Chanel's oringinal design of the "little black jacket" and its versatillity, so there is definitely some historical referene and provenance to this book.  It also features some of my fashion icons, such as Yoko Ono and SJP, wearing the jacket in their own way. This book is due out on August 25.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Online collections = happy eyeballs

Just in case anyone needs to kill some time on the internet or actually needs to find an object for research's sake, here are a few links that I have been perusing lately.

House of Worth, 1896

Paul Poiret, 1913

and OMG that dress!, which is a blog dedicated to posting images of historical fashion from institutions from all over the world.
Jacques Fath, 1953, The Kyoto Costume Institute

The images in these digital collections are gorgeous and include centuries of history.  So even if you are not looking for academic purposes, just browsing for the sake of your eyeballs is a good reason too.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fashion Journals: Worn and Address

I have come across two fashion publications that I have enjoyed so much in the last few months.  Address, based out of London, is an independent, academic journal that presents fashion through many different creative mediums and perspectives.  Worn, based out of Toronto, is another independent fashion journal that also showcases fashion and the art of appearances from many different viewpoints.

One of the reasons I love these journals so much is the incorporation of different styles of writing, perspectives, cultures, themes, and personalities. Their broad spectrum view of fashion and the ways we encounter and interpret it in our past, present, and future lives is what makes these publications different from fashion journals before them.  While Address has pieces written by those in and out of the fashion industry from all over the world, Worn supports those in its local fashion community and operates in a realm of its own where an extraordinary fashion journal is cleverly disguised as a fashion magazine.  Worn and Address share an important quality, however,  in that they both approach dress as something that is unique and different to every culture and every individual for that matter.

I could not turn a page in either of these publications without finding something that struck me.  These are just a few quotes that I could not help but make note of.

The introduction to the opening article in Address titled "From Out of the Box" by Nathaniel Dafydd Beard: (This article discusses the ever-rising emphasis being placed on fashion exhibitions in cultural institutions and how museums are learning as they go to find the best ways to make their collections accessible to the public.)
"Historically, the relationship between fashion and the museum ended at the cloakroom.  Yet, just as curators began to explore the vast cultural significance of the fashion industry, their spaces saw an explosion of vitality which has now escaped from the boundaries of physical space altogether.  As fashion curators develop an increasing hunger for the digital, what role does clothing now play?"

(from the same article) "Despite their vast wealth of knowledge and expertise, there remains a slight amateurish air over the fashion curator's role, in part because so many had to create their own jobs as they went along."

"Or as Cecil Beaton once put it, 'He who ignores fashion, ignores life itself.'" (My new tagline..)

This opening article in Address meant a lot to me. While I was still interning at the Chicago History Museum, I saw first hand the types of efforts that were being made to catalog images for future public release on the web.  Fashion has always been, well, fashionable, but as for fashion in museums, the public and museum staff themselves are still trying to figure out how to receive it.  I strongly suggest anyone who has any interest in this subject to order the journal from their website.  This article is only one of many gems in their current issue.

(Don't mind it's creased corners, I've been carrying it with me 
everywhere since I got in the mail last week)

I have only been a subscriber to Worn for its last 2 issues. They are a bi-annual publication and their most recent issue was their 14th.  Just as the 13th issue was, the 14th issue has been just as much of a page turner filled with insightful and refreshing articles that do not take themselves too seriously as some long-standing fashion publications might.

Right away in the editor's letter, Worn manages to talk about style in a way that had not occurred to me before:
"When it comes to style, fashion, and taste, WORN is committed to challenging the polarizing concepts of good and bad...We believe we have as much to learn from things we don't like as things we do.  Realizing that there is no one sartorial path is to accept there is no one human narrative; ultimately, our individuality is what we have in common."

Throughout the issue, from the different types of bras and their histories to the affects the military has had on men's fashion ("Shop at all seriously for a suit, and you enter a realm of things you must always or never do."), I learn more and more about the clothing I put on everyday.  I also learn about the clothes that other types of people wear everyday, such as ballet dancers, or even other cultures, such as Mayan women in South America and their traditional huipils.  All in all, Worn presents information about style and dress in such a thought-provoking and witty way that will make me a subscriber to their journal for as long as they keep sending them to me all the way down in Memphis.

The mere existence of these publications gives clue to the rise of this once scoffed at industry of dress as interpretive history.  And as someone who hopes to have the privilege to work in this industry one day, publications, blogs, and other forms of media like these ignite my drive and passion to meet that goal even more.  And for that, editors of Worn and Address, I thank you.