HAS all this talk of vertiginous Hilary reading lists left you wanting to curl up and just forget? Well no fear, as the Oxford Fashion Society is here giving you a privileged glimpse into those tantalising tomes and petite silky volumes that enshrine our heavily laden bookshelves. From the iconic memoirs of a sartorial legend to the screaming pages capturing the exploits fashion’s enfant terrible, this is the only reading list you’ll ever need…

         Vivienne Westwood approaches the narrative of her creative life with homage to the words of Baudelaire, “a child sees everything in a state of newness; genius is a childhood recovered at will”. Indeed, at 73 years of age her child-like enthusiasm and revolutionary voice collide within this unique exposé. In the experienced hands of acclaimed biographer/amanuensis Ian Kelly, she catalogues the rise of her global fashion emporium; from the very establishment of the 70s Punk movement to her environmental activism of the present day. Yet with intimate contributions from friends and family the tale cannot help but turn inwards to revelations of her private life, such as that of her rebellious beginnings and turbulent marriage to Sex Pistols manager, Malcolm McLaren. However, Andrew Wilson’s recent review for the Independent criticised its lack of sensation and eloquently alluded to the difficult construction of the biographic genre, “‘Nothing from the past is entirely true,’ she told Kelly. ‘But you are only in those scenes properly when they are put together. That’s what we should do, you and I, Ian: sew together all the life scenes.’ In this respect, Kelly is a competent tailor, but my guess is that in the future there will be other, more adventurous seamstresses who will come along to unpick and restitch the Westwood story.” Ouch.

         The “Vogue on Designers” series is a must-read for any aspiring fashionista. As a collection they exhibit flair and some serious style in charting the most evocative moments of fashion history- spanning the 20th century until now. After the successful publication of McQueen, Chanel, Dior and Schiaparelli in 2012 (all written by journalists of the revered magazine), a further selection including Balenciaga, Givenchy and Ralph Lauren were released the following year. “From detailing how hard the designers worked to how they lived with their visionary brilliance, the books made a captivating assessment of their power and their legacy today. These aren't vast coffee-table books to gather dust, but new fashion friends to be read, perused and revisited for inspiration.” (Vogue) This collection is set apart by their expert balancing of print and photographic content, making them the go-to reference books. The stunning array of images and illustrations pass a reminiscent glance upon these cultural icons, especially with archived photography of those such as Cecil Beaton and Mario Testino playing a vital role in conjuring an aesthetic that is simultaneously resonant and timeless.

             In the words of Time magazine “If Wintour is the Pope . . . Coddington is Michelangelo, trying to paint a fresh version of the Sistine Chapel twelve times a year.” It’s true. Until The September Issue hit our screens back in 2009, Grace Coddington was a relative unknown outside of high fashion circles; content working in the wings and firmly in the shadows of fashion’s fiercest puppet master, Anna Wintour. Grace’s voice shone through the acclaimed documentary, for the first time exposing both her creative genius and enduring collaborative relationship with Wintour. Compounded by the release of her much-awaited memoirs, we can be closer than ever to the mind of one of fashion’s unsung heroes as she continues to create the transcendent fantasy that is American Vogue. From private insights into her rural childhood in Wales and early career as a model to the devastating car accident which is further testimony of her tenacious nature, Grace will have you hooked from cover to cover.

      Stephen Sprouse is a name that screams the superlative, with his neon graffiti-esque graphics a lasting monument of his vibrant and carefree aesthetic. After exploding onto the New York fashion scene in the 80s, he quickly became known for his unashamed Day-Glo creations that captured the spirit of their colourful and newly commercialised world, eventually collaborating with the likes of Andy Warhol, Halston, Debbie Harry and Louis Vuitton. Since his death in 2004, this book forms a stunning retrospective of his work comprising of images from Sprouse’s personal collections, interviews, runway shots and editorial photography. Its introductory essay by novelist Tama Janowitz, Sprouse's close friend, is especially worth reading for its compelling portrait of this performative and visionary artist at his best.

   By Lottie Jackson

No comments:

Post a Comment