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Dressed in Black
by Valerie D. Mendes (Author)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0810966891, Hardcover)Wallis Simpson, the famously well dressed Duchess of Windsor, once remarked that "when the little black dress is right, there is nothing else to wear in its place." And designer Christian Dior was so passionate about the "little black frock" that he once said he "could write a book about black." Dior did not write Dressed in Black--Valerie Mendes did--but the photos and anecdotes in the book affirm that the two renowned trendsetters were not alone in their affinity for the non-color. The core of the book comprises images and histories of 59 black dresses by various designers and one black pantsuit--designed by Vivienne Westwood--all culled from the collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Arranged chronologically, the outfits illustrate the evolution of women's fashion over the last century, from early-20th-century half-mourning dresses--black gowns with small touches of color to signify the end of a long mourning period--to mid-'90s evening gowns. Highlights include an embroidered, drop-waisted Chanel evening dress from 1922; a quilted, full-length evening gown designed by Matilda Etches in 1947 to wear to sparely heated public spaces in postwar London; and a casual cotton summer dress accented by a bright orange asymmetrical hem, created by Yohji Yamamoto in the late 1980s. Calvin Klein, Mariano Fortuny, Balenciaga, and Azzedine Alaia are among the famous and lesser-known designers whose sartorial creations are explored here. Mendes's detailed introductory essay traces the rise of black as a dominant feature in fashion, from its selection as the 15th-century duke of Burgundy's favorite clothing color to Chanel's decision to omit black entirely from its 1999 collection. Dressed in Black is a visual and factual treat for anyone interested in the history of fashion, or the simple pleasure of wearing black. --Jordana Moskowitz
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:11 -0400)
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