Everyone has a memoir in miniature in at least one piece of clothing. In Worn Stories, Emily Spivack has collected over sixty of these clothing-inspired narratives from cultural figures and talented storytellers. First-person accounts range from the everyday to the extraordinary, such as artist Marina Abramovic on the boots she wore to walk the Great Wall of China; musician Rosanne Cash on the purple shirt that belonged to her father; and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley on the Girl Scout sash that informed her business acumen. Read more...
Everyone has a memoir in miniature in at least one piece of clothing. In Worn Stories, Emily Spivack has collected over sixty of these clothing-inspired narratives from cultural figures and talented storytellers. First-person accounts range from the everyday to the extraordinary, such as artist Marina Abramovic on the boots she wore to walk the Great Wall of China; musician Rosanne Cash on the purple shirt that belonged to her father; and fashion designer Cynthia Rowley on the Girl Scout sash that informed her business acumen. Other contributors include Greta Gerwig, Heidi Julavits, John Hodgman, Brandi Chastain, Marcus Samuelsson, Piper Kerman, Maira Kalman, Sasha Frere-Jones, Simon Doonan, Albert Maysles, Susan Orlean, Andy Spade, Paola Antonelli, David Carr, Andrew Kuo, and more. By turns funny, tragic, poignant, and celebratory, Worn Stories offers a revealing look at the clothes that protect us, serve as a uniform, assert our identity, or bring back the past clothes that are encoded with the stories of our lives."
- ISBN-13: 9781616892760
- ISBN-10: 1616892765
- Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
- Publish Date: August 2014
- Page Count: 159
- Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.9 x 0.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-08-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Spivak, creator of the Smithsonian’s fashion blog, Threaded, assembles a charming collection of one- or two-page essays about favorite items of clothing, each one accompanied on the facing page by a photo of the particular item. Contributors as disparate as mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig, attorney Ross Intelisano, music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, chef April Bloomfield, and performance artist Marina Abramovic, among others, are invited to opine here. Highlights include a tribute to a practical dress and to a garment manufacturer grandfather, “the man who dressed New York” from Jill Meisner (of Refinery 29). Also notable is Spivak’s own loquacious ode to a pair of flip-flops worn “precisely, perhaps, because they are so ordinary.” Author Heidi Julavits, meanwhile, closely studies her privileged neighbors’ insouciant style of dress: “threadbare flannels with paint stains, patched jeans, faded and torn polo shirts.” The simple photos of each beloved item—a T-shirt here, a pair of work boots there—are intimate and sweet. Spivak has created a fashion book for everyone who feels that so far they have been left out of the fun. 62 illus. Agent: Jud Laghi, Jud Laghi Agency. (Oct.)
The frivolous and the familiar
Though it evolves constantly, fashion would grow stagnant without personal flourishes like a favorite pair of lived-in jeans. “The best things in life are free,” Chanel famously said. “The second best are very expensive.”
Fashion can be considered trivial or superficial, and in many ways this is true. But at its best, fashion can incite, even disturb, the imagination. Between the pages of W magazine, with its commitment to pushing boundaries and fostering the art of long-form photography, it thrives. Editor-in-Chief Stefano Tonchi collects 10 of the magazine’s finest productions from the past two decades in W: Stories, allowing an unexpected peek behind these remarkable, avant-garde editorials with outtakes, inspiration boards and brief essays from photographers, designers and more. Steven Meisel’s first shoot with W raised questions of beauty and gender with aggressive, androgynous models sprawling up and down half-lit urban alleys. Actress Tilda Swinton recalls her and photographer Tim Walker’s pilgrimage to Iceland, where they shot alien, forbidding images that at times look like stills from Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Photographer Alex Prager describes assembling a lovely and gloomy cast of characters to portray a Hitchcockian day at the races. This is fashion at its most provocative, a necessary book for minds that require a little disturbance.
Tilda Swinton in W magazine, August 2011. From W: Stories, reprinted with permission.
From fantasy we move to reality, and no book better captures the relationship between real women and their clothing than Women in Clothes. The truly stylish—or even those who have given the slightest thought to their style—aren’t taking their every cue from glossy magazine spreads, so editors Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton set out to discover just what women think about when they put themselves together. The result is a truly all-encompassing (but never overwhelming), contemporary “philosophy of style,” a collection of interviews and surveys of more than 600 artists, writers and other women. It’s like a massive conference call with all your friends and everyone else’s friends, too. As Heti writes, “The most compelling women are the ones who are distinctive, who are most like themselves and least like other women.” It’s nice to feel that your idiosyncracies and influences can be considered as important as good tailoring, and you may find yourself polling your friends, looking at other women differently or at least feeling a little better about owning 10 gray sweatshirts.
Or perhaps you have 12 pairs of red shoes or too many wrap dresses—no judgment either way. That being said, you’re likely to have one pair of red flats you love more than any other. Based on Emily Spivak’s blog of the same name, Worn Stories eschews the beautiful side of fashion for the pricelessness and singularity of that one favorite thing. More than 60 cultural figures and celebs, many of whom reside in New York, reveal their personal connections to just one item of clothing, from fashion designer and self-declared “total dork” Cynthia Rowley’s Girl Scout sash to John Hodgman’s Ayn Rand dress. One piece of clothing can tell quite a story, and this book is delightful proof of that.
PEARLS AND FLATS
Time and time again we return to Coco Chanel (1883-1971), the patron saint of classic, feminine style and a cultural force unlike any before or since. Though we recreate her image with our cardigans and taupe flats, biographers who have attempted to capture Chanel are more often than not thwarted by their own subject. Chanel notoriously tried to block anyone from writing her story and repeatedly obfuscated fact with fiction. According to Rhonda K. Garelick, author of Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History, the gaps in Chanel’s story are as essential to her persona as her stylistic revolution. So rather than “pinning down a ghost,” this new bio explores Chanel’s story (as we know it) in relationship to the vast theater of European history. Garelick—who was granted unrestricted access to the Chanel Archives in Paris and to the diaries of Chanel’s lover, Grand Duke Dmitri Romanov—has produced an epic, well-researched balance of historical resonance and breathless admiration.
Fashion on its grandest scale lies within the pages of Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute. The Met’s Costume Institute (reopened this year as the Anna Wintour Costume Center) houses more than 35,000 costumes and accessories from the 15th century on, and has been funded since 1948 by the yearly Costume Institute Benefit, an evening of pretty people dressed in pretty things. This book looks back on the exhibitions and galas of the 21st century, beginning with 2001’s “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years” and ending with the architectural feats of high-glamour ball gowns in 2014’s “Charles James: Beyond Fashion.” Featuring Vogue editorials and essays by Hamish Bowles, this is where art, fashion and history collide, where creativity meets—and manipulates—our culture. It might be frivolous, but it’s far from trivial.