Book Review: Fashion – A History from the 18th to the 20th Century

On Gigi’s recommendation, I bought this book from Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago. I had eyed this book for quite a while, but its original price (I believe it was around $70) was a deterrent. But it’s on sale now! You can Click Here to see it.

Publishers Information:
Full Title:
The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute
A History from the 18th to the 20th Century

ISBN-10: 0-7607-8202-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-7607-8202-6

18th Century
19th Century
20th Century – First Half
20th Century – Second Half

This book is an encyclopaedic survey of fashions from the late 1500s to the end of the 20th century. It makes me want to fly right over to Japan and spend a week in the Kyoto Fashion Institute. It is loaded with sumptuous photography. The text accompanying the photographs is pretty sparse. Mostly the text is the descriptions of the clothing. From my perspective, it is interesting to see how fashion has sped up since the late 19th century. The styles in the 1600s to the 1800s, while showing distinct evolutionary patterns (ciao, stomachers, helloooo bustles!), changed over longer periods of time. By contrast, the evolution in fashion from the 1890s to present day is head spinningly fast.

Each chapter is written by a different person. Obviously each is a specialist in the fashions of their time period. The book flows beautifully, and while the translation from the Japanese can be awkward at times, it is a fascinating read. The fabric embellishments and underpinnings of the previous centuries get as much play as the styles of dress. The photography and close-ups are just spectacular. The authors highlight the frequent references to Orientalism in fashion. I found it interesting how often the Japonais style reappears, throughout the centuries.The only nit I have to pick with the book is the preponderence of Japanese fashion at the end of the 20th century. I understand this, given the location of the museum, but while they show the minimalist nature of Miyake, Rei Kawukobo and Comme des Garcons, why not mention Helmut Lang? Like I say, it’s a minor point, and it isn’t a deal breaker.

This is a book that should be in every fashionista’s, designer’s or serious sewing enthusiast’s collection. It provides endless inspiration and it is fantastic eye candy.

Happy reading!

About Gorgeous Things

I own an online fabric store, Everything else you need to know about me is what I tell you on my blog, darlings!
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