Many notable fashion reference works focus on the broad history of costume design, while others concentrate on trends. Curator Martin of The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has instead compiled what is essentially an encyclopedia of the fashion business for the past 50 years. The designers profiled range from Gabriel "Coco" Chanel to the unconventional Todd Oldham, but highly successful retailers (e.g., Banana Republic) that have managed to make an impact on the fashion world are also covered. The biographical information found in the well-researched essays is surprisingly accurate. Although most of the entries focus on American and European designers, some designers from Asia and Australia are noted as well. The black-and-white photographs and illustrations provide definitive samples of the respective collections, and revealing portraits of the designers occasionally are featured. Most importantly, the essays address the motivation behind the creation of major lines and illustrate the impact that each designer has had upon the fashion business. A worthwhile complement to Contemporary Designers (St. James Pr., 1990. 2d ed.), this costly book is recommended for academic art and fashion design collections.-Julie C. Boehning, "Library Journal"
From The Critics
Stars of haute couture and shopping mall alike are represented in this comprehensive reference guide. Designers from Joseph Abboud to Zoran and companies as diverse as Danskin, Esprit, Louis Vuitton, and the Gap are profiled in signed essays ranging in length from one-half page to a page or more. Nearly 400 designers representing 27 countries are included, ranging in time from the late nineteenth century (Fortuny) to today's Donna Karan and Tommy Hilfiger. Each entry includes a capsule biography (or history, in the case of a company), a brief list of publications by or about the entrant, and, in many cases, a quotation from the subject, usually defining a design philosophy. Many of the entries are accompanied by a high-quality black-and-white photograph or sketch of the designer's work or the occasional portrait. These photographs are often full-page size, and many are quite striking "Contemporary Fashion" can be considered a companion to an earlier St. James publication, "Contemporary Designers" (1990), which covered all kinds of design. More than 60 fashion designers are found in both sources, but the entries in the earlier publication are much briefer. The strengths of "Contemporary Fashion" are its international coverage (it has an index by nationality of designer), the credentials of its contributors (fashion editors, costume curators and conservators, and academics), and the amount of information provided (not just essays but citations to other sources). Large public library reference collections and academic library collections serving fashion and design programs will find the most use for this expensive title.
A comprehensive reference that presents the most influential designers since WWII with detailed descriptions of their fashion contributions, enhanced by direct quotes and (frequently full-page) b&w photographs. International in scope, it covers some 400 fashion designers as well as designers of shoes, hats, jewelry, and other accessories from 27 countries. The entries consist of a personal and professional biography; bibliography of works by and about the designer; about half include a statement by the designer about his/her work or design philosophy; and a photograph of the designer or his/her work. Finally, each includes a critical essay by a scholar or critic in the field of fashion and costume history. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)