Though I`d take the title with a grain of salt, this is nevertheless an impressive and extremely useful book.
This is a volume that will find a place not just on the coffee-table of anyone interested in fashion, but also on the work-table of many a working designer; packed with illustrations - paintings, design patterns, drawings and photographs - the general format is to take key examples of periods and trends and to analyse elements like detailing, styling and innovation. My one caveat concerning the presentation as a whole is that it rather concentrates on what the wealthy and -latterly - the high-fashion conscious wore, rather than us peasants. Where the book scores highly, however, is in it`s attempt to provide a global picture of costume across different ethnic and minority groups which have influenced the mainstream. I appreciate the difficulty the authors would have had with this project; compiling a true listing of significant fashion trends as one comes closer to the present day is speculative, as these often only become apparent in succeeding decades - blue jeans, as an example.
The texts are informative and the layout of the book is intelligent and clear.
Any minor issues aside, this is a highly recommendable book for anyone with the least interest in fashion; it is informative, engrossing and a pleasure to look through.
This is a superb sourcebook for anyone truly interested in the history of fashion. It covers a wide range of time periods and cultures in a medium amount of detail. Not deep enough for anyone looking for mastery of a particular era but with a good overview of the historical, political and aesthetic background to clothing styles through the ages. Richly illustrated and a great gift for a fashion or textiles student, as opposed to someone looking for a "how-to style manual". This is a more scholarly work than that.
Thames & Hudson; doing my arts degree they published the best art books, so I was curious when I saw their name across this brick of a book, claiming to tell fashion's "whole story". But true to form, this is excellent, truly great. At 553 all-colour pages (excluding index and references), whether you're a student of fashion or simply want to understand how we got where we are, style-wise, this is a hugely insightful yet commendably accessible work.
Broken down into core sections from 500BC (!) to 1599, 1600 to 1799 and so on, right up to our current age, key stages along the way receive two-page spreads. In each, a brief essay gives social context before highlighting new, defining touches, and a 'focal point' sidebar zooms in to discuss the features in detail (discussing construction, fabrics, influences, etc). So, rather than some whopping great - and dense - written study, Thames & Hudson have found a really engaging balance between images (fashion being visual, after all) and investigation.
Curious enough to appeal to someone who just likes style and pop culture, but informative enough to also provide arguably the perfect support if you're studying fashion in education, Thames & Hudson have done a great job of creating a fashion history for everyone. The tone is just right, that's for sure. Sometimes too many pictures means the text is thin, but here the level of visual and study work really well.
Design-wise, the book bursts with colour; far from some study that saves the bang for key images, this is colour throughout, and comprehensive, too. The pages have sheen, so will endure, and the book itself is soft-cover but sturdily bound - so it's flexible; lying the book open at any page is easy but won't over time destroy the stitching. In short, this is the perfect reference book.
Okay, some of the more contemporary studies are subjective - the same old thing seemed to be said about glam and punk and new romantics, etc; but, given this is a courageous attempt at telling "the whole story" of fashion, I think Thames & Hudson can be forgiven.
For the price, this is a truly, truly fantastic book. And whether you're just a fan, or want a book for historical study, there's a ton to explore here.
This book starts from very early on in the first millennium and the origins of cloth from the orient and Europe. It then proceeds with a timeline of fashion: both for men and women. Many of the early examples are illustrated and discussed by the use of art (paintings) of the applicable era where the dress of the persons in the painting at highlighted and critiqued. Although short, each example covers particular indications of that fashion and why, very well; such as hemlines, trousers shapes, lengths, cuffs, fabrics, colours etc. It is easy to flick through and quite interesting to see how and why fashion has changed and what influences it has followed. However, I was most disappointed that my favourite designer, Franco Moschino, was given a mere paragraph of introduction, considering at his peak in the 90s before his death, he was quite controversial and inspired a lot of more contemporary and daring designers to come forward.
However, still a very interesting book to flick through. Not intended for a design student but has some great images in it.
on 27 November 2013
Fashion: The Whole Story is a beautiful and interesting book. It aims to look at the history of fashion from the ancient world to the present day. This is very ambitious and inevitably it does tend to lack depth and skip some parts of history. I wasn't bothered by this at all as I view this as a book for someone who is new to the subject. There are books that look at the history of costume in great detail and there are books that are only interested in present day fashion. I think this is a decent stab at trying to do something that shows the history of fashion. This is a beautiful coffee table book with lots of wonderful photographs.
Fantastic book about fashion. I am really impressed so far. It could have gone either way but I am happy to say that it's everything that I expected it to be and more. At 576 pages, it's a substantial sized book but it packs a lot into its more compact dimensions. I have been browsing through it so I have not read it cover to cover, rather dipping in and out of it, and reading parts that interest me at the time. Lots of information, great photos, probably can't have everything about fashion in one book, but compared to other books on the subject, it has a lot and I am enjoying it very much. So far, based on my personal experience of reading it this far, I give it 5/5.
This is a really nice book - more practical than 'coffee table'. It is literally the history of fashion - from 500BC to 2012, with every movement, technique, era and style covered, from far eastern pre-Christian, South American ethnic, Africa, Asia to high catwalk European fashion of the 21st Century.
There is one double page per entry and the 569 pages do justice to the superb range of contributors and leading fashion experts who have written the guide. There is comprehensive glossary of terms too. This would be a superb reference book for a designer, painter, design student, photographer, stylist, researcher, etc. It would also be of general interest. Highly recommended.
'Fashion: The Whole Story' attempts to provide a guide to the changing fashions of people around the world through out history. It provides a good range of illustrations - essential in a book like this - many of which are in full colour and a text that is generally well written and often informative. It is, therefore, a perfectly decent book. Where it falls down is by its omissions and by comparison to other, similar, books already on the market, such as DK's lavishly illustrated 'Fashion: The Ultimate Book of Costume'.
The blurb promises a book that is 'ambitious and fascinating [which] traces the history of fashion in every part of the world' from the Classical world to the present day. Perhaps it is unsurprising that a book of some 550 odd pages (of which a significant number are full page illustrations) can only give the quickest of surveys to such a wide ranging subject. Never-the-less, for me at least, it is a disappointment that, given that the book bills itself in this way, it fails to deliver. The history of costume around the whole world up to the start of the seventeenth century is covered in just over 50 pages. A further 60 or so take us up to the start of the nineteenth century. Given the richness of world culture, this seems slightly like short changing the reader especially when clothing since 1990 merits nearly 100 pages by itself.
Where this book does score highly, however, is in its attempts to broaden the view of fashion from the expected review of European - and later American - clothing. Diversions to the far east and Africa both historically and more recently add significant depth and richness to what could otherwise be simply a history of pretty frocks.
The illustrations are generally well chosen. The format largely relies on a photograph of a costume on one whole page and an analysis of it on the facing page. Smaller details are picked out for discussion on the facing page too. This works adequately but is not perfect. It relies on illustrations being chosen display a lot of features that encapsulate the fashions of the time. This is, of course, at times a hard task. DK's 'Fashion' packs in many more colour illustrations of costumes, with a more limited scope, and with occasional well chosen detailed looks: all-in-all a more satisfactory approach in illustrating changing design and clothing (despite some short comings in that book).
The detail illustrations in this book, whilst a nice idea and helpful in illustrating the points under discussion, are often not very useful, however. Because they always come from the main photograph they are not as helpful as a photograph of a detail from another angle or a similar feature on another item of clothing might be.
The text is generally good - there is enough but not excessive detail. Its focus on world fashion means that it often explores an unusual aspect of a subject but can misses other important aspects. Modernist functional clothing of the mid-twentieth century is looked at through the lens of Soviet design, which is interesting, but other similar movements are overlooked. A description of an 'American Drape Suit' worn by Hollywood star, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, in Prince of Wales check and with a Windsor knot tie, largely manages to avoid mentioning Edward VII as Prince of Wales. His role in the popularisation of the Glenurquhart pattern is referred to but not in the development of the Drape suit or that the knot was named after him too - which seems an odd omission.
I have to confess to finding the much of the more recent fashion and clothing explored less interesting. Other readers I'm sure would disagree, but for me much of the high end designer clothing from recent years seems like a waste of space. It reflects a world of fashion that is divorced from what people generally wear, is disproportionately over-represented in this book and which is significantly easier to find a record of than older styles.
Overall, therefore, 'Fashion' is not quite the whole story but it does tell the story with some unusual and worthwhile touches. Its main fault is that it could have been something more.
This is an ambitious project, covering centuries of fashion, from the Romans to super-models and, apparently, everything in between. While there will probably be those, more expert than I, who could point out aspects which are missing or under-explored, this looks like a book anyone with an interest in fashion would find interesting useful and informative. There are illustrations galore, more than 1000 apparently, but you'd expect that in a book about a visual medium, but what was pleasant surprise was the narrative, which accompanied the pictures.
You'll find design milestones, influential individuals and their work, all with explanations of how and why they were so important and how they have influenced those who followed. Both mens and womens fashion is covered and I would recommend this for anyone interested in fashion at whatever level (I should point out that I ordered this via Amazon Vine for my Wife and I need to review before giving it to her, so the impressions are mine rather than her more expert view
This was an enormous remit for any book; the complete history of fashion to date. What is good about it - it covers such areas as African and Oriental fashions, often areas left out of books such as this. The illustration quality is good and I like the way the reader is drawn to different areas of photos via clear key indications. Lots of essential facts and figures here and some really good, clear text as well, as you would expect from this expert in the field. My only concerns; I thought the period prior to 20 century was rushed through a bit in favour of the 20th and 21st centuries - pandering to popular demand a tad? Also, slightly too much focus on the American side of things for me, again maybe attempting to draw in American readers and or a very young/popular appeal audience. Whole sections were about designer fashion and left what the masses were wearing a little aside (OK, they would have been an influence, but not totally). For instance, no mention of working class fashion/costumes, over the centuries, smocks, factory wear,clogs, etc - this is really the history of what people at the top/middle were wearing. With the exception of these few points, I would still say this is worth buying for a general audience as well as students of fashion and textiles.