I decided that in preparation for my LCF short course I would re-read my favourite fashion book, Colin McDowell’s Fashion Today. I’m so glad I did – I’d forgotten how ridiculously good it is.
This is a coffee table book in the realest sense. At 30cm by 30cm, as thick as 4 copies of Vogue, and weighing considerably more than my laptop, this tome could actually be used as a coffee table, let alone put on one. Which makes it pretty unweildy – reading it in bed is not easy. The huge pages are great though because the book is packed with beautiful fashion images from the 1940′s onwards.
See! It’s huge.
The book is basically a history of modern fashion. Starting with Christian Dior’s much-lauded ‘New Look’ collection of 1947, the 13 chapters cover major topics in fashion, from the rise of the model and the designer as celebrity to the influence of vintage and fetishism. It’s littered with references to so many influentials films, books and people that I’ve found myself making a shopping list as I’ve been reading it.
McDowell is probably my favourite fashion writer off all time. His style isn’t the easiest to get through – I frequently have to refer to Dictionary.com to find out the meaning of words I don’t know, but to me that’s a good thing. It’s absolutely inspirational to read – not just because of the tales of fashion designers, models, socialites and celebrities, but because it’s written so darn well. I was lucky enough to meet McDowell at the Masters of Style exhibition that he curated at Somerset House. He was just as posh and proper as I expected him to be, but he was very sweet and kindly answered my questions about the exhibition. I managed not to be a total fangirl and tell him how much I adore Fashion Today, but in hindsight maybe I should have. Not only is this an excellent reference book, it’s really beautiful to look at too. AND considering it’s so humongous it’s kind of a bargain at £35.