AB: Takeda – Fashioning Fashion

(This is an entry in the Annotated Bibliography.)

Takeda, Sharon Sadako, and Kaye Durland Spilker. Fashioning Fashion: European Dress in Detail 1700-1915. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2010.

Published as a catalogue to accompany the Fashioning Fashion exhibit at LACMA, this large book contains a multitude of glossy, full-color photographs of high quality extant garments. The garments are beautiful and well-displayed, and the layout of the book is lovely, with images of paintings and period illustrations included for context. There is an emphasis on the extremes of high fashion, and on the connections between historical fashion and the modern world of fashion and couture. The book includes an outstanding pair of timelines of fashion using extant garments posed on mannequins; the women’s timeline is particularly striking, as all gowns included are white, while the men’s timeline is more varied. Helpfully, many garments are photographed full-length, but also have detail shots included; by including both approaches, this actually makes for an improvement over the similarly beautiful “Fashion in Detail” series from the Victoria and Albert Museum, which often include only detail shots accompanied by line drawings. The organization of this book is more thematic than chronological, but it is an enjoyable book to peruse, rich in excellent images. I have not fully examined the text, but my limited perusal has not found any glaring errors. The book is not instructional. The images are full-color, glossy photographs, covering most of the pages. There are brief endnotes and a glossary, but no bibliography.

Note: Images of particular interest to me:

  • “Dress, France, c. 1855, Silk plain weave (taffeta)” – vivid large-scale plaid, photographed on a mannequin from the back, m2007.211.767, p. 50
  • “Dress, France, c. 1820, Cotton gauze and cotton bobbin net with wool embroidery and silk satin trim” – a beautiful regency-style gown, on a mannequin with a truly generous bosom, very different from the figure we often picture such gowns as being flattering for, m.2007.211.18, p. 52-53
  • “Corset, England, 1830-40, Cotton sateen, quilted, with cotton twill and cotton plain-weave tape” m.63.54.7, p 86-87
  • “Chemise, Europe, 1835, Linen plains weave” m.2007.211.447, p 87
  • “Petticoat, Europe, 1830-35, Cotton plain weave with supplementary weft-float patterning” – by which it means that cords have been woven into the fabric, so as to make it easy to sew a corded petticoat. The cording is in horizontal rows from the hem up to nearly the knee, with a wide tuck of plain fabric taken just above. m.2007.211.314a-b, p 87
  • “Cage crinoline, England, c. 1865, Cotton-braid-covered steel, cotton twill and plain-weave double-cloth tape, cane, and metal” – appears to be of a shape somewhere between a full bell and a truly elliptical hoop. m.2007.211.380, p. 93
  • “Bonnet (Fanchon), England, c. 1860, Linen net with lace, silk-velvet ribbon, and faux-pearl glass beads” – from the description of materials, it seems as if this object is more likely a cap than a bonnet, but it is nevertheless lovely. m.2007.211.171

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