Vogue: Twentieth Century Fashion

Versace dressDetails: 20th Century Fashion: 100 Years of Style by Decade and Designer by Linda Watson gives a history of the entwined relationship between Vogue's fashion coverage and changes in fashionable tastes. A new edition of this book was released this week. Expect it to include new fashion royalty such as Proenza Schouler, Giles Decon, Donatella Versace, and Zac Posen.

John Galliano for Christian Dior. Karl Lagerfeld for Coco ChanelPros: If you're just getting into fashion, the chronologically ordered chapters are detailed but won't crush you with information. The designer section is succinct enough to get a feel for each house's forte.

The photographs are as brilliant as you'd expect for a book published in conjunction with Vogue.
Designs by Lucile Duff GordonDesigns by Bill Blass and Bella FreudCons: If you've been studying fashion for years, you may find the chapters too sparse. In that case, get drunk on the details in A History of Fashion.

The author, a former writer for Vogue, seems too eager to give the magazine credit where it may not be due.
Designs by Paco Rabanne, Ossie Clark, and BibaFavorite tidbits: Pants became acceptable for women first as pajamas.

The preferred proportions for an Edwardian woman were a 50 inch chest and 15 inch waist. This biological impossibility was acheived through the aid of the ironically titled "Health Corset." Despite being so bound and stuffed into their clothes society women changed their outfits six times a day.

Aldous Huxley wrote for Vogue for years.

Vogue patterns started before WWI. Readers would send in a picture from Vogue and $.50, and one little pattern maker would send them a pattern for that outfit. All patterns were European 36.

From a Vogue article published in 1976: "Style is independent of fashion. Those who have style can indeed accept or ignore fashion. For them fashion is not something to be followed, it is rather something to be set, to select from or totally reject. Style is spontaneous, inborn. It is the gloriously deliberate, unpremeditated but divine gift of the few." Irving Penn photo, Christian Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga


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