Barbara Vinken
Berg Publishers, London, 2005, English
Nonfiction, Fashion Design
ISBN: 9781845200435

From the Publisher. Although it is appealing to think that fashion has taken a sharp turn away from conventions established in the industry over the past century and more, is this really the case? Or are "pioneering" designs simply part of a cyclical revival of forgotten fashions? Looking at some of the most influential designers of the twentieth century, Vinken considers the politics and philosophies that have been the driving forces directing their sense of style. Vinken describes "Fashion Zeitgeist" as a trend characterized by representations of traces of the past. She considers the key concepts behind designers such as Yamamoto, Gaultier, and Lagerfeld. The originality of Yamamoto's multi-layered look stems from his philosophy that it is the individual sum of experience that is important, not the collective consequences of history. Martin Margiela, although he himself refuses to be photographed or appear in the public eye, brings new individuality into fashion. Chanel, under the direction of Karl Lagerfeld, is viewed as the only fashion house to have remained fresh after 100 years, yet is this success essentially proof of the self-referential qualities fashion has adopted? What inspired the fetish for labels at the end of the 20th century? Answering these questions and many more, this concise and thought-provoking book shows how beauty, gender, sexuality, commerce, and dandyism have persisted in defining the fashion system.

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Valerie Steele

A super-brilliant book by a German scholar who explores topics such as Chanel’s female dandy versus Dior’s transvestite, and why the “hundred years of fashion” (from Worth to Yves Saint Laurent) ended with Comme des Garçons.

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