6 books on how fashion contributes to societal change

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Snobs may laugh and say you have style or you don’t; fashion experts know better. They assure us that, like most things, dressing according to your personal style can be learned. What better way to do that than through books that follow trends and choose what’s cool or hot, and are full of stories about how unique ideas are born and translated into fabric as well as who influenced what. .

Fashion is a barometer of the times, with attentive designers, artisans and icons pulling threads from what they see and know and weaving them into garments that reflect what is happening around them, what either rebellion, celebration or innovation. They embellish their designs with color and verve and wear pieces that people identify with and want to wear. After all, as Marc Jacobs said, “clothes are nothing until someone lives in them”.

The United States of Fashion: A New Atlas of American Style

Canceled catwalks and empty catwalks in fashion capitals last year have designers looking for inspiration in their own backyards, literally. An affirmative outcome of the pandemic is a chorus of fresh voices speaking of comfortable clothing, sustainable materials, caring for the Earth, pivoting to stay relevant, and reaching customers digitally.

Vogue America‘s The United States of Fashion captures the stories of new designers across the country who, through images and words, share how they interpret and identify with today’s fashion. The book is the result of a project of the same name launched by the magazine in February, to highlight locally flourishing creations and crafts.

Written by Vogue editors who have traveled from coast to coast, it lists the innovations and companies that define American fashion – which has evolved under difficult circumstances, with consumers wanting more conscious clothing and comfort but spending less, because the coronavirus is changing the way people live, work, shop and play.

Dressing the Resistance by Camille Benda

Focusing on what Mahatma Gandhi wore over the years, the Gandhi Book Center notes that he traded coats, pants and hats for a lungi (traditional garment worn around the waist), then a dhoti (long loincloth wrapped around the hips and thighs, with one end pulled up between the legs and tucked into the waistband) before moving on to a khadi wrap, a hand-spun cotton fabric, which symbolized India’s struggle for independence.

Clothing may not fit the man, but it can certainly spark activism and spur social change, writes costume designer and fashion historian Benda in Dress the Resistance (available from October 19). American suffragists marching to the beat of “Deeds Not Words” wore dresses made from old newspapers printed with voting slogans. Indian farmers wore their wives’ saris to stage sit-ins on the railroad tracks. Safety pins hanging from earlobes or attached to ragged jackets were considered “a cultural expression of angst, emotion and volume,” Billboard magazine said of the punk movement.

From rebellions in Roman times to women crying #MeToo today, clothing, textiles and costumes are seen as tools to agitate for change. Protest fashion – from uniforms and T-shirts to headbands and hats – galvanizes support and communicates discontent. A newspaper article titled “Dressing for Freedom” described Rosa Parks as “impeccably dressed in bespoke clothing” when she was arrested in 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., For breaking a separate seating law in public buses. Her calm style and dignified dress, emphasized by the organizers of the event, helped fuel the struggle for social equality.

Still, she wore it: 50 iconic fashion moments by Ann Shen

Women who dare, wear. In Nonetheless, she wore it, writer and illustrator Ann Shen takes us back to specific times in years gone by when people ignored social norms and chose clothes they liked and adapted lifestyles, paving the way for radical change.

After World War I, American women joined the workforce in droves, gained the right to vote, and had easier access to mobility, thanks to the automobile. These factors are said to have shaped the flapper dress – straight, baggy outfits with a waistline at the hips and a hem that falls between the calf and knee, leaving the arms bare. Young flappers flaunted their “outrageous and immoral” lifestyle in these dresses as they pushed for economic, political and sexual freedom.

The bikini introduced by French designer Louis Réard in 1946, the first war-free summer in years, was named after Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean where the United States tested the impact of atomic bombs on warships. Its liberating effect on women’s swimsuits has gone around the world. To quote French fashion historian Olivier Saillard, “the power of women, not the power of fashion” was the reason these outrageous pieces of fabric spread.

Long before #BlackLivesMatter, the voluminous Afro symbolized rebellion, pride, and empowerment during the Black is Beautiful movement of the mid-1960s. In the decades that followed, individuals made personal statements through fashion, either loud – Madonna flaunted her sexuality on stage in her Cone Bra corset designed by Jean Paul Gaultier – or quietly – the late United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore elaborate frills over her black dresses that were saying the style and what she thought of some people in power. Between her “dissident” necklace and her “majority opinion” necklace, she has been seen, and surely heard.

Designing Motherhood: The Things That Make and Break Our Births by Michelle Millar Fisher and Amber Winick

This book had its seed in the 1956 [Einar] Egnell SMB breast pump made by the Swedish engineer that Millar Fisher, curatorial assistant at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2015, attempted to acquire for his collection. Nothing came of it, but she, along with design historian Winick, began to examine the connection between reproduction and design. This led to the birth of Conceive motherhood, as well as an exhibition of the same title at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, USA, which opened in May and will run until next May.

The authors examine more than 80 objects designed as “iconic, conceptual, archaic, titillating, emotionally charged, or just plain weird,” including home pregnancy test kits, pregnancy pillows, the tie-up skirt. size that women wore in the 1950s for hiding. baby bumps, gender revealing cakes, baby carriers and babywearing in traditional cultures, wooden baby boxes that the Finnish government gave to pregnant women, nursing pods and, of course, breast pumps.

History and history, interspersed with historic photographs, drawings and advertisements, highlight how design and objects have shaped women’s reproductive experiences and the relationship between people and babies over the past century.

Extraordinary Voyages: Louis Vuitton by Francisca Mattéoli

Luxury travel and fashionable gear go hand in hand, and Louis Vuitton combines the two with panache. The brand itself had a foot in the journey, when its eponymous founder (1821-1892) left his hamlet of Jura, France, at age 13 and walked to Paris. The 400 km trip took two years and he did odd jobs to pay his expenses.

Extraordinary trips is far from the Louis Vuitton trek. This book edited by the house and Atelier EXB takes readers across the world by sea, rail or air and land, through 50 true stories from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. Adventurers drawn to modern modes of transportation have boarded trains, liners, junks, automobiles, half-tracks, zeppelins, airplanes and spaceships in search of new experiences. Those who traveled in style took with them trunks, suitcases and hat boxes bearing the iconic LV monogram.

Illustrated with Louis Vuitton archive images, old photographs and travel posters, Extraordinary trips travels alongside explorers, aristocrats, artists and hedonistic globetrotters who have taken to the skies “to escape into a world of dreams come true”, writes Mattéoli. It tells the story of travel and the history of the luggage of the French brand, since its founding in 1854 by the young Louis, who was 17 years the apprentice of master trunk-maker Romain Maréchal.

Peter Lindbergh: on fashion photography

When Peter Lindbergh (1944-2019) looked through his lens at women, he saw raw beauty enhanced by personality. When he pressed the shutter, he captured real people telling real stories. The German fashion photographer avoided stereotypical images of models, movie stars and celebrities and, instead, portrayed them in natural settings and simple clothes and with minimal makeup, breaking the mold of weighted perfect poses. by glitter, big hair and cosmetics.

In this book he talks about iconic images he took for various magazines, especially the first by Anna Wintour. Vogue America cover in November 1988 featuring Israeli model Michaela Bercu – he broke all the rules and Wintour felt “the winds of change” – and working with the biggest names in the industry as well as “extremely intelligent women with strong personalities who knew exactly what they wanted. They were also free from social conventions. ”He referred, in the online magazine LensCulture, to Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz and Christy Turlington, New Faces which he transformed into models with his series White Shirts shot on a Malibu beach in 1988.

This special edition of Peter Lindbergh: on fashion photography has over 300 images, many unpublished, collected from his 40 year career and a 2016 adaptation Vogue interview about her “great supermodel moment” and the personalities who personified the new woman of the 90s. The man who daringly changed the landscape of fashion photography has exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, at the Center Pompidou in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and various other venues.

This article first appeared on September 20, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.


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