Couture: The Great Designers

Details: Couture: The Great Designers by Caroline Rennolds Milbank. Published in 1985. Used copies are available online starting at $50.

Pros: Designers are divided by the prevailing aesthetic of the house rather than chronologically. Sections include The Founders who made couture what it is; The Purists who focus on functional clothes for the active woman; The Entertainers who treat couture like theater; and The Architects who focus on construction.

The section on the originators of modern couture was particularly interesting. That felt like an honest evaluation of a career while some of the chapters on contemporary designers felt slightly fawning.

The big, colorful pictures are such eye candy I think my pupils may need to start a New Year's diet.

Cons: It was published in 1985.

Not only does Milbank lean toward a preppy aesthetic (see 1985), but she almost completely ignores British and Italian fashion houses. Oddly enough, the author is dismissive of Parisian powerhouse Dior.

Favorite tidbits: Coco Chanel was a peasant orphan, a past she never tried to hide. She wore piles of costume jewelry to mock "kept" women.

Modern couture was created by an Englishman.

Rating: 3.5 of 5


becca said…
I'd like the check out the history part of it. That sounds interesting.

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