On Teaching Fashion: Summer Reading

I have recently come to the conclusion that I am hopelessly and quite happily addicted to collecting books.  My book shelves are filled to overflowing, some are filled two-deep, and I continue to make weekly trips to the library and regular stops at my favorite used book shops.  Am I delusional about the amount of time available in any given day to devote to reading?  Yes and no.  During the school year, I do not have a lot of time for what my fifth-grade teacher called ‘pleasure reading.’  This summer, however, I have discovered many pleasurable hours free to devote to catching up on reading Vogue magazine, W, Women’s Wear Daily, the latest fashion textbooks, background reading for my discipline, and those books read just for enjoyment’s sake.

One of the first books I picked up this summer was The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde by Neil McKenna, and I have concluded that there is very little of Wilde’s life that was ever secret, but I have found the book to be a useful introduction to the life of Wilde, as it is a chronology of events in his personal life during the writing of each of his major works, and an in-depth look at his trials and imprisonment and the Victorian view of male homosexuality.  On the subject of fashion specifically, there is even some good basic coverage of the origin and meaning of the wearing of green carnations, and the general wearing of the color green by gay men in Europe in the nineteenth century.

Next came Christian Lacroix: The Diary of a Collection by Patrick Mauries, which I recently received as a gift (lucky me!).  The book is a visual treat, and is essentially a scrapbook of Lacroix’s Spring/Summer 1994 Haute Couture collection, with full details on his inspiration and design processes behind it, including his sketches and excellent photos of antique textiles and modern fabric swatches.  Quality images of the finished looks (rather than in-progress-mostly-finished-polaroids) would have made the book complete.

Coming up on my reading list are two textbooks, Fashioning Society: A Hundred Years of Haute Couture by Six Designers by Karl Aspelund and Menswear: Business to Style by Michael P. Londrigan (to be read in between comic books and graphic novels from my local library, of course).  Leave me a comment and let me know your suggestions for summer reads, and perhaps I will cover one in a future post.

Photo Credit:  The Woman in the Woods on flickr.

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  • Mellissa July 09, 2010 11.38 am

    I suffer from a similar affliction! Just recently took a trip to the treasure trove known as the Book Barn in Latham, and was happy to pick up a few more titles to add to my rapidly growing, summer reading stack! These are my top contenders right now:

    “The Devils Cloth: A History of Stripes” by Michel Pastoreau

    “Mallarme on Fashion: A Translation of the Fashion Magazine La Derniere Mode, with Commentary”

    “Seeing Through Clothes” by Anne Hollander

    “Visual Culture: Images & Interpretations” by Norman Bryson, Micheal Ann Holly, and Keith Moxley

  • Heather July 09, 2010 11.58 am

    Seeing through Clothes is definitely necessary reading!


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