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The Most Ambitious Fashion Summary Ever
on 25 August 2004
This is the Reader's Digest Condensed version of the history of fashion over the last 150 years. Unlike Reader's Digest, this book succeeds in capturing the essence in amazing kernals of elegance, curve, design, and motion. Everyone who loves fashion should have this book. There is simply no substitute for it, and you will have many hours of pleasure looking at its exciting images and reading the descriptions. The book is a great value for its price, as well, which will help make it available to more people.
The book is in an unusual format, one page each for 500 icons, models, fashion and accessory designers, make-up artists, hairdressers, retailers, illustrators, and photographers done in alphabetical order. Each page typically has one person (a few have two), with one image, and one brief textual summary of the person's work.
It is an amazing challenge to capture all of a person's work in one image, and some great successes occurred. Some of my favorites were Madonna, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Harry Winston, Naomi Campbell, Coco Chanel, Noel Coward, and Rudi Gernreich.
On the other hand, some of the old black and white images did not reproduce well. Some of the worst examples are Antoine (a hairdresser with a photograph of Josephine Baker's hair), Maria-Louise Bruyere (a designer), Christian Dior, Max Factor, Barbara Goalen (a model), Gucci, and Hermes. In many cases, these choices appear to have been influenced by the desire to have the facing pages converse with one another. So you will see echoes of design, line, and style in these ways. I appreciate that effort (which is often quite eloquent), but it should not slight the individual whose work is being portrayed. I graded the book down one star for the compromises made here not working well in too many cases.
After you have finished reading and enjoying this book many times, I suggest that you think about where else it would be helpful to have a similar work in your life. Perhaps a scrapbook containing photographs of all of your friends who have something in common would be a possibility. You could write a brief text about each. This could greatly add to your pleasure in remembering these friends, and perhaps expand their interaction when they see how you have put them together.
Keep to the essence, but be bold!