Fashion, Subculture, The Reading List

>Get yo’ swag on

>Was Santa good to you this year?  I must have been a good girl, because I got a mighty sack of Christmas swag, mostly in the form of some excellent fashion books.  To be honest, I could have done with a sack of coal too because It. Is. Freezing.

Here’s what I got book-wise, in no particular order.

Blow by Blow: The Story of Isabella Blow by Detmar Blow.  This biography of the famed and much mourned super-stylist purports to be her definitive biography.  But really, it’s not.  It’s not particularly well-written and her husband goes into too much detail in some places (he paints Alexander McQueen as an egocentric, cruel megalomaniac) and not enough in others (Blow’s heroin use and both his and her extramarital affairs are casually touched on or barely acknowledged).  It’s distinctly unbalanced, but I feel as if I know Blow a bit better after reading it.

The Look: Adventures in Rock and Pop Fashion by Paul Gorman.  From Elvis to Gwen Stefani, this book charts the intermingling of fashion and music.  Where the musos bought their clothes, what the trends meant and what people thought of them at the time – it’s a supremely interesting read.  And there’s introductions and forewards by Paul Smith AND Malcolm MacLaren.  AND a free CD.

Style Wars by Peter York.  Published in 1980, this book is now sadly out of print.  If you’re a fan of subculture, then buy it second hand on Amazon.  I got a nice clean ex-library copy.  Reading about the different style tribes in the 80’s and thinking about how radically different the world is now after only thirty years is a bit of a mind-melt.  A good mind-melt.  Chapter on Sloane Rangers = Hilarious.

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A photo from Take Ivy.  Gotta love those preppy boys.

Take Ivy by Teruyoshi Hayashida.  Loads and loads and LOADS of iconic pictures of preppy men (and a few women) at Ivy League universities.  All of the photos were taken in the early sixties, so it’s collegiate cool at it’s most distilled, before Woodstock and Women’s Lib changed the face of the common college uniform.

Face Hunter by Yvan Rodic.  Enough said.

The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970’s Paris by Alicia Drake.  I cannot wait to get my teeth into this book, which tells the story of the friendship and rivalry between Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld before they achieved their godlike statuses.  It’s reassuringly thick, which is always a good thing when it comes to non fiction.  More pages equal more juicy details.

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Knitting Masterpieces via etsy – buy it!

Knitting Masterpieces by Ruth Herring.  This (also out of print) knitting book shows you have to make jumpers with some of art’s greatest works emblazoned across the front.  I will not rest until I figure out how to knit a Mona Lisa sweater.  It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine.

Style and the Man: How and Where to Buy the Best Men’s Clothing by Alan Flusser.  Everything a person could possibly want to know about how to buy a suit, how to wear a suit, the best proportions to suit a man’s figure, how to tie a cravat – basically every GQ fashion article ever written that never actually appeared in GQ.  I’ll be passing it on to the boyfriend according.

Great Fashion Designs of the Sixties: Paper Dolls in Full Colour: 32 Haute Couture Costumes by Courreges, Balmain, Saint-Laurent, and Others by Tom Tierney.  Sixties.  Paper.  Dolls.  Marrying my love of sixties fashion and cutting shapes out of paper.  The words ‘childish glee’ were made for this book

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A plate from Portrait in a Velvet Dress – a beautifully composed and considered shot

Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida’s Wardrobe by Carlos Phillips Olmed and Magdalena Rozenzweig.  Many people love the art of Frida Kahlo, but equally fascinating was her attitude to clothing.  This book is full of pictures of her flamboyant outfits (found in a trunk in a disused bathroom in her house, still smelling of her cigarettes) and essays about the artist’s relationship and attitudes towards her wardrobe.

Coco Chanel:  The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie.  Coco Chanel was so protective of her own life story that it seems that there will never be a totally truthful and authoritative biography written on her.  Justine Picardie grapples admirably with what she has to work with and the book is printed on gorgeous glossy paper with some seriously great, insightful images.

It’s going to take me a while to get though these.  Wish me luck.  Did you get anything nice for Christmas?  Got any fashion-type reads that you fancy sharing?

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13 thoughts on “>Get yo’ swag on

  1. >I needs me one of those knitted sweaters, that stuff is awesome! No fashion books for Christmas (though I was pleasantly surprised when I unwrapped a neat little cookbook – turns out Dad actually listens now and again!), but do a pair of Hello Kitty slippers and a couple of pretty scarves count..? No, didn't think so…XDHope you had a lovely Christmas! :) :) :) Kathryn (Waldron-Hyden :P)

  2. >man that's a lot of books for one xmas, good on you though. i bought my gf the isy blow book, second hand copy. the take ivy book is on my wishlist, with about 30 others. the only two books i got was the QI annual 2010 and a portfolio layout book, il blog them this week

  3. >So blooming jealous of that knitting book! I really need to add learning to knit on my list of things to do :D love the sound of that rock and pop fashion book too!xxxxxxxxxx

  4. >Oooh, must get my hands on that paper doll one … that was one of my favourite things as a child, and what on earth could be better than haute couture paper dolls!xx

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