“Fashion! Turn to the left. Fashion! Turn to the right…”

Fashionby DK

When I was a young girl, my mother bought me a series of historical colouring books of fashion through the ages. I adored these books, and armed with my Caran d’Ache Swiss watercolour pencils, I spent hours devising colour schemes for the costumes.  I then designed my own versions of the outfits for numerous cut-out dolls.  These colouring books were my primary source, backed up with the newspaper colour supplements at the weekends.

I would have killed for a book like DK’s new one-stop fashion bible back then.  When I opened the rather large box this book came in, and saw the pink flocking on the cover and spine, I thought ‘Wow!’ before even opening it. Then I opened it and thought double-wow!

From what the fashion-conscious caveman wore right through to the latest catwalk designs, the whole history of the world of fashion and costume is here.

You expect quality from a DK reference book, and I was not disappointed.  Introduced by Caryn Franklin (whom I’ve always admired), the volume is chronologically presented, with summary timelines for each period, then features analysing the main trends in womenswear and menswear. The twentieth century rightly gets over half of the book, but it’s not all haute-couture. Working clothes, sporting apparel, the rise of blue-jeans are all included, alongside the Hollywood glamour and designer wares.

At the back is a reference section with an extensive glossary, and information on national costumes, plus double-page spreads on the evolution of accessories. It is fascinating to see how often fashion looks back to history to move itself forward.

While I have no interest (or the physique) in being a clothes-horse for any fashion myself – the history of costume is always interesting from afar. My twelve year old daughter and I are going to enjoy this book – it won’t move from the coffee table until at least the New Year and will get pawed/pored over frequently. I’d recommend it strongly too as a great present idea, (for those of you who have started Chr*****s shopping already).  10/10

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I received a review copy of this book courtesy of Amazon Vine. To explore further, please click below:
Fashionby DK, pub Sept 2012, Hardback 480 pages. RRP £30.
Caran D’ache Prismalo Aquarelle Colour Pencil – Assorted (Pack of 18)

6 thoughts on ““Fashion! Turn to the left. Fashion! Turn to the right…”

  1. Ooh I love the look of this (and your David Bowie reference!).
    I might have to invest in a copy of this in time for Christmas as both my daughters will be home and I know that they will love it as much as I will.
    Thanks for the review.

    • Liz – It could only be Bowie for this (he does get a pic inside too). This book is totally fascinating, and it’s the good coverage of everyday clothes and the moving up and down of hemlines etc that is more interesting than the high-end stuff. BTW – it’s £18 online at a certain well-known retailer!

  2. “Fashion” sounds like a lot of fun. Just curious, any literary figures make the pages, or isn’t it that kind of book? (The New York Times just ran an article about American author Mary McCarthy being a fashionable figure of the Mad Men era, but I can’ think of too many others. Collette, perhaps?)

    • The only author I’ve found so far in is Conan Doyle in his double-breasted pin-striped suit! I’m sure there will be others lurking…

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