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Against Fashion: Clothing as Art, 1850-1930 Hardcover – December 1, 2003

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A short window, a span of 80 years, is a microcosm of fashion at a crossroads, a time when artists fully plied their aesthetic touches on fabrics and design. Curator and art historian Stern examines the impact and influence of such well-known practitioners as William Morris and Sonia Delaunay, plus lesser talents such as Giacomo Ballo and Ilia Chasnik, on the shape of women's clothing. The author prefaces 30 essays with some diagnostics of her own, tracing fashion from the 1850s through the Arts and Crafts period and on to the onset of the avant-garde. What perks up an often academic narrative are the illustrations and photographs of actual artwear--including Gustav Klimt adorned in one of his own creations. Quotes, too, help; after all, who could resist Oscar Wilde's notion that "there is hardly any form of torture that has not been inflicted on girls"? Or Darwin's observation that "the development of dress presents a strong analogy to that of organisms"? "Thoughtwear" for a rainy day. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"'Thoughtwear' for a rainy day."
Barbara Jacobs, Booklist

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 213 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; First edition (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262194937
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262194938
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 0.8 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,265,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ru on August 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. I had no idea how interested I'd become in the Artistic Dress/Dress Reform Movements and this book is where I first dove into it. The beginning of the book is an essay by the author about these various opinions and artistic philosophies that eventually led to 20th century clothing (which is so different than anything that proceeded it). The rest of the book is a series of essays written by those who were involved. I had no idea that people like Klimt, Oscar Wilde, and Henry van de Velde were all so concerned with women's clothing. This book actually raised a lot of questions for me which I answered by reading "Politics, Health, and Art: Reforming Women's Fashion, 1850-1920" by Patricia A. Cunningham. "Against Fashion" does have quite a bit of information on men's fashion reform as well where Cunningham's book focuses only on women's dress. I would find the book worth the price just for the wonderful photos and illustrations - but it is definitely worth reading from cover to cover. I have studied the history of fashion for years, majored in Art History in college, and have always been very fascinated with the late 19th / early 20th century time period so how wonderful it was to have a whole new angle on this period in history to love.
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