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The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day [Hardcover]

Bronwyn Cosgrave
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

31 Mar 2001
From the first fashion style of the Egyptians to the emergence of "haute couture in the 20th century

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The Complete History of Costume and Fashion: From Ancient Egypt to the Present Day + Fashion (Oxford History of Art)
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Facts On File Inc; Reprint edition (31 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816045747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816045747
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 24.1 x 28.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 732,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and enjoyable 8 Jan 2002
By A Customer
I got Costume and Fashion for Christmas and I have to recommend it as one of the most enjoyable and informative reads I have had in a long time. THe book is a history of women and men's clothing, beauty, grooming, footwear... the works, starting with the ancient Egyptians and ending with chapters on fashion and image today. What I liked about the book was the clear and easy to read style in which it's written as well as the way in which, although it is quite concise it manages to do justice to each of the historical periods in question. When the author makes generalisations they tend to be qualified and the book really manages to avoid being reductive - which seems to me to be a rare feat given the genre of this kind of book. It is filled with beautiful colour illustrations and photographs and I will certainly be giving this book to friends for birthdays and Christmas this year.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
92 of 98 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Useless as a Costume Reference 22 Oct 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Always on the lookout for any new costume reference, I was
eager to leaf through this one. Unfortunately, it was nearly
a waste of time.
I say "nearly", because Cosgrave provides quite a few helpful
illustrations, though the objects depicted are often mislabelled and period paintings are seldom fully cited.
In general, I found this volume to be shallow and badly researched. It's full of bad generalizations and misused terminology. Cosgrave makes numerous statements which are at odds with everything I've come to know about historical costume. Seldom are these bald statements backed by sources discussed in the text. She also has a 'thing' about Byzantine costume. Everything worn in any other place or time suffers in her constant comparisons.
One of my favorite absurdities is that her entire discussion of medieval jewelry is a dismissal of the same as "crude". (Though she does allow that the Irish did some nice work. And, of course, it suffers by comparison to Byzantine jewelry.)
Another example: The caption regarding a painting of people in Burgundian Court Dress urges the reader to "Note the Byzantine influences". Huh?!!
In general I'd recommend that the re-enactor or Costume History
student look at the pictures and ignore the text.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good general costume history 8 Sep 2001
By "daniel0302" - Published on
This is a beautifully designed publication certain to be rewarding to someone seeking an overview of the subject. The text, while not truly in depth, is very readable and is written in a vernacular yet polished style. Customs of the various cultures and periods, along with manners and gender roles in society, are covered as well. Ancient Europe and the Mesopotamian cultures (Sumer, Babylon, and Assyria) are omitted. Some of Ms. Cosgrave's information about other early cultures - especially the Egyptians - does not totally coincide with other authors and should not be taken as gospel, but rather as a possible interpretation. In other chapters, some of the observations and conclusions are quite insightful. The illustrations are wonderful and astutely chosen (with the exception of some 19th century line drawings used to illustrate early Egyptian, Greek and Roman costume.) The illustrations are also reproduced well, and the number of color plates is quite abundant for a book of this price. The books main weakness, and this is a big weakness, is that these beautiful and well chosen illustrations are not consistently attributed with the date, name of the work, artist, or museum, and in fact some of them are incorrectly identified or dated. Also, in the sections of the book on the 19th and 20th centuries - both in the illustration placement as well as the text - the reader does not really get a clear picture of the looks of the individual decades and periods within these centuries. Given the rapid changes of silhouettes and styles that occur in these years, a more thorough and detailed account would be welcome. With these notable reservations, this publication has still achieved reasonable success, and is still a recommendable text on the subject, especially for novices. The attractive price - especially the Amazon price - makes this a good value as well and contributes to its overall rating.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There is nothing complete about this book. 9 Dec 2006
By M. Ashworth - Published on
The most complete book of History of Costume I have found is "Survey of Historic Costume" by Phyllis Tortora and Keith Eubank. The title of this book "The Complete..." and the lack of content simple don't belong together.

This book is a beginners basic introduction to costume. It needs to be reviewed and mistakes need to be fixed.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars didn't like it 10 Nov 2006
By M. Bernis Ozses - Published on
There are cool pictures and all but seriously you cannot cover the whole egyptian, etruscan, greek...periods in 3-4 pages. The book plainly describes what people were wearing in these periods (and it does not give you the complete info) and it does not tell you much about the story behind these costumes which I found pretty lame.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst I've ever seen 9 Jan 2010
By Costuming junkie - Published on
The information is just plain wrong in hundreds of instances and the images and text are frequently not connected. In general if a book says it is a Complete History of Costume from the dawn of time to yesterday, it is probably to be avoided, but this one is truly, truly bad!
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