The Fashion Book
It may look and feel like a coffee table book, but you can buy it and feel good about writing the purchase off to “research.” Phaidon’s The Fashion Book is an A to Z compendium of icons, designers, photographers, editors, models, hairdressers and more – essentially 500 who mattered in fashion in the last 150 years (the book was published in 1998).
The book does an admirable job of not only giving you a Who’s Who of Who — with one page and a fab photo devoted to each who in Whoville — but also making connections among the entries. Its “glossary of movements, genres and technical terms” makes it even more interesting, as does the fact that apparently Suzy Menkes was a primary advisor for The Fashion Book.
What’s fun about Phaidon books is that the editors remain nameless. So who decided that Boy George is a fashion icon (page 72)? And why is he filed under B for “boy” instead of G for “george”? Can we blame Mr. George for millions of suburban women wearing oversized shirts over leggings? Or should we blame Katharine Hamnett (page 203).
So why does this book merit your attention? Because I guarantee you there are designers whose names you have forgotten or never knew embedded in these 512 pages. And though it doesn’t deliver extensive information on any of its listed parties, it will serve as a magnificent source book that will serve as the roots for further research and exploration.