Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Vintage Style - Book Review!

A quick blog post, just to share the Vintage love! Mamma Merode recently bought me this fabulous book, and it has become my new favourite thing - especially as the weather has been so lovely recently, I have spent several afternoons sat in the sunshine poring over this gorgeous book.

It is an absolute must-have for any lover of vintage: a handy guide for vintage shoppers or a how-to for vintage stylists. And it looks beautiful on display next to my faux-Victorian mirror on my dressing table!

The book begins with an introduction covering the reasons why certain women were included, and how to make various vintage styles work for you. There is also a handy table of the 'icons' included in the book and which body shapes they work for...

The rest of the book then covers almost a century's worth of style icons, beginning with Louise Brooks and the 'Flapper Style' of the 1920's, and ending with Cindy Crawford and her 'Glamazon Style.' There are the obvious icons - such as Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Twiggy and Jackie 'O' - several less obviously influential women (in my opinion) such as Wallis Simpson, Marianne Faithfull, Joan Jett and Kate Bush - and one or two that I'd actually never considered to be a style icon until now, as they have had such a subtle yet profound influence on modern perceptions of vintage style, such as The Mitford Sisters, Talitha Getty, Francoise Hardy and Grace Slick. There are also many more women featured throughout the book, detailing their style and influence.

Beautiful pictures of the icon and their style: ie - Louise Brooks, Flapper or Diana Ross, Diva
Each section opens with a short biography of the icon and their style, along with the context in which they became famous: for example, Bianca Jagger's 'Studio 54' style is placed in contrast to the dominant Punk movement of the 1970's and the civil unrest in New York City as drug barons and gangsters took over the streets.

Each section provides an essential guide to achieving the style: 'The Palette', 'Key Designers' and 'Silhouette and Cut' along with swatches of associated and complementary colours, pictures, and reference boxes of 'Key Looks' and 'Style Tips' to help you create your own versions of each look. 
Garments for each look are given individual mentions (ie: Dresses, or Hats): these sub-paragraphs cover information on the original fabrics used, the way they would have been worn and accessoried, how to make certain garments work for different body shapes, what to 'Shop Vintage For' and the wider influence of each look.  

Alongside garment and shopping information, there are also Beauty Guides and Style Tips to help achieve the overall look associated with each icon, covering make-up, hair and essential features (such as Debbie Harry, New Wave: Smoky Smudged Eye or Lauren Hutton, Simply '70s: Barely There Make-Up) along with a 'Beauty Tips' reference box of key beauty looks for each icon.

Gorgeous pictures throughout are interspersed with interesting facts about each icon or their style: did you know that Diana Ross originally wanted to work in fashion, took classes in millinery, and was the first black employee at Hudson's Department Store in Detroit? Or that the term 'Flapper' was coined by the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald and is thought to refer to the fashion among wealthy American college girls for wearing rubber galoshes over their shoes with the tops left 'flapping' open?

There are also mentions of modern-day or alternative counterparts to the original icon: ie - a modern day Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood Glamour, is cited as Catherine Zeta-Jones or an alternative Kate Bush: Free Spirit, would be Stevie Nicks. This helps see how the essence of each vintage look can translate into a modern context, or how it was interpreted by other icons of the day.

Wonderful quotes from each icon provide a glimpse into their personal lives and style: "Enough is never enough" Liz Taylor: or "I always wanted to be that blonde, glowing woman on film." Debbie Harry: or "You can never be too rich or too thin" Wallis Simpson.

Finally, there is a directory of Hair and Make-Up Services and Vintage Boutiques in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada! There is basic information on each service along with website and contact details - and I was happy to see several names I know among the lists, including 'Burlesque Baby', 'Flamingo Amy' and 'Cherry Pop Pictures'!!

I have spent hours poring over this book - fascinated by the ways in which these women influenced or challenged what was socially acceptable in fashion at the time:

I aspire to Audrey Hepburn: Ingenue, Jean Shrimpton: British Classic and Francoise Hardy: Euro Chic for their classic glamour and pulled-together style. 
I adore Marilyn Monroe: Goddess, Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood Glamour, Bianca Jagger: Studio 54 and Diana Ross: Diva, for their unabashed love of beauty and over-the-top glamour, 
I admire Marlene Dietrich: Femuline, Twiggy: Ultra Mod and Joan Jett: Rock Chick for turning their backs on the accepted fashion mores at the time and celebrating their own style. 
I have realised, however, that my personal style is a combination of Wallis Simpson: Mistress, Brigitte Bardot: Bombshell and Grace Kelly: Ice Princess which is wonderful, and using the hints and tips in this book, I know what to look out for next time I go Vintage shopping!

What do you think? Have you read this book or are you inspired to buy it for yourselves? Whose style do you admire or emulate?

I also blog about Vintage Shopping Finds!

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