Belated Book Notes, Part I.

I am woefully behind in my book reviews and thus, we have something of a list for books published in July. Here’s the first set:

Corsets: Historical Patterns & Techniques
by Jill Salen. Publication Date: July 2008. Including “20 historically correct corsets, ranging from the 1750s to 1950” I suspect that this is more geared towards the re-enactor or costume shop consumer. It would be interesting to see how this book compares to Support and Seduction: The History of Corsets and Bras – a book recently negatively reviewed by Alain (of Gotham Patterns) on Good Reads. Though Corsets is a slim volume and may not have much to offer in terms of history, it could still be of use to those studying corsetry technique within museum collections.

F.C. Gundlach: Photographic Work by Klaus Honnef, et al. Release Date: July 1, 2008. Offering a look at postwar fashion in Germany, Gundlach gained prominence in the 1960s. I’m sorry to say that I don’t know a thing about Gundlach – making this book all that more of a necessity for me. Apparently, though, it isn’t that surprising that I’ve not heard of him as this is the first monograph of his work available in the U.S. More details on Gundlach’s work is available here. The photographs are beautiful and evocative-though it is unclear if there is any academic study of his work in this volume, or if this is simply a coffee-table book.

Women in Weimar Fashion: Discourses and Displays in German Culture, 1918-1933 (Screen Cultures: German Film and the Visual) by Mila Ganeva (Hardcover – Jul 1, 2008) This book, by Mila Ganeva – professor of German – promises to be an academic probe of the iconic fashion if the Weimar period in Germany. Taking a feminist point of view, the book examines women’s self-expression through the medium of fashion during the early years of modernism.

Ganeva’s work thus far has focused on Weimar visual culture, Berlin films of the 1990s, the writings of Judith Hermann, and the fashion writing and photography of Weimar Germany. In 2003, Ganeva published an article in the NWSA Journal examining “The relevance of fashion photography as a source for the study of women’s modernity in Germany between the wars as it focuses on the work of a fascinating and prolific professional photographer of the late 1920s and early 1930s—Else Neuländer Simon—known by her artistic name Yva.” I have a feeling that this new book by Ganeva was informed by her research and analysis of Yva’s work – something I am not familiar with, but would love to know more about. According to Ganeva’s abstract for the paper

“Yva discovered her own unique visual language somewhere between the commercial clichés and the modernist idioms of her time. As a successful professional photographer, she continuously searched for an image of the woman in fashion and advertisement photography that was not reductive and degrading. In an era when images of the woman as a sexual symbol were dominating mass media and were proven to attract customers, Yva positioned her photographed female model in a way that did not diminish her to a mere eye-catcher for the male spectator.”

The full article is available through Project Muse (if you have access through an academic institution). If her book is anything like her previous writing, it promises to be very useful to academics studying this period and style. I’m waiting for my review copy, and will hope to report further on this book.

That’s it for today, but I’ll have more soon.

Until next time,


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