Natasha Slee and Cynthia Kittler
Wide Eyed Editions
Hats firmly held on and boots duly laced, we’re off on a catwalk extravaganza that embraces cultures, time and much more as it showcases in twenty five scenes, fashion history from all over the world.
We’re in the company of two young fashionistas, one male, one female, as we embark on this globetrotting experience. (It’s fun to locate them looking the part in every scene.)
The journey begins in a high society ballroom over a century ago as elegantly attired dancers and onlookers twirl or stand in their floor-sweeping Edwardian ball-gowns and suits.
Next stop is a performance of the Ballet Russes where dancers drift across the stage clad in voluminous harem pants and feathered turbans, watched by women in empire-line dresses, often wearing huge hats.
Cycling shows women sporting cycle bloomers and sometimes dresses as they pedal their bicycles in early 1900s USA.
‘Shimmying Down’ set at a Harlem Renaissance dancehall, showcases women in brightly coloured flapper fashions and men sporting long jackets or studded waistcoats.
No matter whether you wish to emulate the ’Lost generation’ of 1920s Paris; imagine yourself as a Bollywood screen star gracing the Mumbai (Bombay as it was then) roads during the 1960s, or striding carefree along the London streets of the 1950s and 60s proudly wearing a miniskirt or dress;
glue your hair into spikes like the London Punks of the 1970s; or try ‘Posing with the Girl Gang’ in the uber-cool Harajuku district of Japan from the late 1990s onwards;
or imagine yourself street dancing in South Africa’s townships in the earlier 2000s there’s a vibrant scene to show you how it’s done.
Every single lavishly illustrated spread is inclusive, with diverse characters wearing the distinguishing fashions of the era; and each has a fact box giving information about key designers, hemline and sleeves, and silhouette as well as the when and where, and descriptive paragraphs providing cultural history and influences.
If all that isn’t sufficient for even the most dedicated follower of fashion, then there are also timelines – the first of which gives a summary of key events of the 20th century, and the other four showing silhouettes, shoe styles, and trends in hats and bags. Plus there’s a final ‘Can you find’ challenge that will surely inspire readers to go back and peruse the scenes even more carefully to locate such as ‘a woman watering her flower garden on the streets of Saigon’; ‘a bird enjoying the breeze on a washing line in Canada’ or ‘a waiter dropping his tray of coffee on the streets of Paris’.
For anybody with an interest in fashion, this is a must-have book: I absolutely loved it.