Friday, 23 September 2011

Silence in the Library!

Hello! Me again, and this time wearing a beautiful white blouse and eye-popping pink Yves Saint Laurent lipstick... not that you can really tell in the dismally poor Photos. 

This was originally going to be about my five favourite books. Full Stop. Then the voice of reason in my head (not that he is often at home) murmurs quietly, 'Is this not supposed to be a Fashion Blog?'
So, after a little thought, I came up with a better idea. My five favourite fashion-orientated books! The truth is: there are more of them in my life than I could have ever thought. Books about individual designers, Hats, Handbags, Shoes, Japanese Fashion (the one I can not find) Vintage Fashion with sub-categories including books on Art Deco, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s... bref, the list goes on - and it can only grow bigger! I am currently saving up for, among a very wide range of other things, an enormous book on Dior from 'Waterstones'. I am certain it will be worth the cost, considering that I am a huge fan of Dior.

Anywho, let us start the list, counting down to my all time favourite.

5) - Fifty Fashion Designers you should know.

First and foremost, this is not a collection of obscure or niche designers. In fact, it is basic beginner level with all the mainstream designers that everyone really should know, regardless of whether they are interested in fashion or not. These are the movers and shakers, those who created a new way of thinking and looking at Fashion... mostly rather obvious - such as Chanel, Dior, Armani and Versace - with some variety including the greats - Madeleine Vionnet (A favourite of mine) Elsa Schiaparelli (photo above, showing the famous lobster dress based on Salvador Dali's lobster phone) - and even the avant garde (Yohji Yamamoto and Hussein Chalayan) 
Bref, for a first insight into the world of fashion, accompanied by brightly coloured photos and a timeline going from the second half of the 19th century to the present day, you can do no wrong with this number.
Warning: The Book is slightly out of date, 2010, and harking back to happier times when John Galliano was not fired from Dior on anti-semitic charges  and Alexander McQueen had not commited suicide.

4) So, in joint fourth position, 'Manolo Blahnik drawings' and 'Vogue Covers: On Fashion's Front Page' Both of these books are simply rife with glorious images. In the case of the latter, starting with a Vogue Cover from 15th September 1916, it leads us on a whirlwind of colour and a myriad of eclectic designs to finish with a sleek Kate Moss for September 2006. Ninety years between these two Vogue covers and oh, how much life has changed. Not only fashion, but morals and what is socially acceptable, even what is considered beautiful. Included within the pages of this book, a treasure of a cover from early August 1917 depicting a woman in full winter gear spearing to death a polar bear (On a more serious note, I do not in any way support or defend the spearing to death of polar bears or any other animal)  The only reasonable criticism is the overly large amount of Kate Moss Covers; half the amount could have been used to prove the same point.                       In the case of the Manolo Blahnik book, I am afraid that the small size of the book, pocket-sized if anyone is interested, means that I was unable to take a photo of the inside of the book. I hasten to assure you that the book is well worth it, and that the drawings portrayed within are very vibrant and thought-provoking images of shoes.

3) Fashion Algebra de Anna Piaggi. This book by the legendary Anna Piaggi (flamboyant Italian fashion writer and style icon, having written for fashion magazines such as Italian Vogue and, in the 1980s, the avant-garde magazine Vanity) is 'The logic of Fantasy and the careful deciphering of all the essential elements of today's style.' and done to brilliant effect, touching on every aspect, every possibility of Fashion in an eclectic and wholly creative way brimming with mischevious wit and years of experience. Let me but assure you that each double page spread is a work of art (and those who have seen some of Anna Piaggi's double page spreads for Italian Vogue will have little trouble believing it)
No aspect has been left untouched and delving into the pages of this book, is like diving into an extravagant and beautiful dream. There is nothing more vibrant; more mind-opening than these pages upon pages of spellbinding designs. This book is a treasure... but I also borrowed it from my School Library.


2) 70s Style and Design
- Oh, the Horror of the 70s. The so-called terrible costumes that your parents were photographed in - pastel green jumpsuits with sequins and flares while their hair is curled into a wild submission. Oh yes, not everybody looks back on the clothing of the 70s without embarassment, and even disdain.
However, with the rise of retro, the 70s are experiencing a resurgence of cool, though some people may not believe it - surely going there once was bad enough?
I am not one of those people.
I have always liked the 70s. The colour, the madness, more freedom of sexuality. An era that united such defining trends as 1920/1930s Art  Deco and 1960s pop movements. An era that saw the rise of Ethnic designs, nudity to sell a large range of products - Levi's Jeans being an example - and a love of the natural.

Punk, Avant-Garde, neoclassical and, a favourite of mine, new romantic. Each aspect is explored in detail with quiet respect and sparkling wit.

Androgyny, freedom of sexuality and sexual ambiguity... the cult phenonemon that was 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' and, another favourite of mine, David Bowie.... this book gives so much and even those who are not altogether interested in Fashion could not fail to find this book interesting. Some may be shocked, some may be amused, some may look at certain shoes within the book with a small sigh. Either way, it will not fail to make an impact, if only for the highly vivid images.


1) Swinging 60s Fashion Style.
    - 'From elegance to individualistic casual. The 1960s was a cataclysmic period in fashion history. The world underwent significant political and economic upheaval, and so did the world of fashion. Early 1960s fashion had inherited the elegance of the 1950s, where clothing was refined and somewhat conservative. By the middle of the decade, however, the flashy mods and the freedom-loving hippies had emerged and fashion moved in a more hip and cool direction. Fashion in the 1960s was a veritable treasure trove of styles.' - and there is no better book to demonstrate this. Perhaps the contents of the book are minimal if you are looking for facts and information, but the photos inside are bright, colourful and, in their multitude, offer a wide view of fashion in 1960s. From Swimming costumes to suits and hairstyles, every detail tells its own story.  The story of why the 60s is seen the way it is within the world of Fashion.
It is a book that inspires, that gives one a base when looking at the 60s. Starting from the front cover, so enveloped in bubblegum pinks and baby blues that one cannot fail to be reminded of a barbie, or at least of Katy Perry's California Gurls video, and all the way through, crossing tartans, furs and corals in all manner of guises.
A psychedelic mess but a truly enjoyable one, gripping you to each page as you float dream-like through a veritable Aladdin's cave of colours and delightfully Kitsch patterns.

Once again, thank you for reading. Follow me if you like. Comment.

 << A note on the clothes. The Blouse is a beautiful Laura Ashley piece adopted from my Mother (Go recycling!) The Black Scarf is one of those many accessories that I feel like I have had forever though, on second thoughts, have probably had less than a year. The Belt is a lovely light grey/cream affair with a little bow. The skirt is actually my school skirt. Though I was intending to wear a pencil skirt, stolen from a large black binbag of interesting clothes chez my grandmother's, I could not find it so instead opted for my school skirt. The Shoes are beautiful, bought for a third of the original price (£25 down from £75) and, if you would like to know where you can buy them online, you need only leave a comment and I will reply.


Caroline said...

oh my gosh! your shoes are absolutely gorgeous!!! i like the sound of the first and fourth book :)

Zoé said...

Thank you - I appreciate the compliment! Oh, and yes, the first and fourth book are excellent. So are all of them. :)