Couture: The Great Designers

Caroline Rennolds Milbank, Author Stewart, Tabori, & Chang $90 (432p) ISBN 978-0-941434-51-5
Drawing on noted design houses and fashion designers for choice illustrations, Milbank, former head of Sotheby's costume department, weaves together a handsome collection of 175 color and 225 duotone picturesartists' sketches, house photographs, period magazine illustrations, documents. Her 61 insightful if often flattering cameos of famous couturiers' lives and careers form an engaging social history of changing styles. We learn that Charles Frederick Worth not only pioneered the bustle silhouette, he also created a system of pattern parts allowing for near-perfect fit with fewer fittings. We're reminded that Pierre Cardin in the 1960s was an innovator whose clothes made references to space travel and Op Art, and that Elsa Schiaparelli got her start by filling a rented Parisian studio with Armenian knitters. Contemporary fashions discussed include Armani's impeccable blazers as long as skirts, Pauline Trigere's slim, free-falling look, Kenzo's whimsical folk creations, Perry Ellis's blend of traditional and offbeat. All the big names are here: Dior, Chanel, Givenchy, Patou, Fortuny, Rouff, Blass, etc. Literary Guild bonus selection. November
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
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