Thursday, 2 April 2015

Last-Year Reads: Style Me Vintage 1940s



Following on from Fashion on the Ration, here's another new book release on 1940s fashion. This one is a completely different proposal however, being one of Pavilion's hugely popular 'Style Me Vintage' series. It's a series I associate more with a 'vintage' lifestyle look, rather than proper fashion history (which they do really well - Style Me Vintage Hair finally helped me master the 1950s 'do' I dreamt about), so I was interested to see how this volume, written by curator Liz Tregenza, would work.

Style Me Vintage 1940s completely won me over. Although the fashion history element may cover familiar turf for those who have an interest in the subject, this is a great example of how to make an introductory book accessible and visually appealing without dumbing down - other publishers of 'decades' books please take note!

Liz's background and MA-training subtly comes through throughout the book. She's clearly wary of making sweeping statements about the period. So you can copy an early 1940s make-up tutorial (yep, the book still has those), but includes a later version too. Trends aren't just talked about as a homogenous mass, you can a brief survey of German and French wartime fashions, as well as what was happening in Britain and the US. Even zazous get a mention.

It's well worth the money if you want to start collecting the period - there are brief lists of jewellery, shoe, compact brands and the like, as well as a more detailed focus on particular labels. I was pleased to see the spread on Horrockses, as I first became aware of Liz thanks to an enthusiastic comment she left on my post about the label back in 2010. There's also a great list of shops - both stocking vintage and repro - at the back.

It is slightly different from most fashion history books, as Liz is not the mysterious, anonymous narrator. She's a model for some of the outfits for starters - which she does brilliantly, as you'd probably guess if you follow her on Instagram. Then there's the brilliant pictures of her Nanna in full-on forties fashion mood, which help add another level to the book. Her genuine interest in the period is palpable.

And - perhaps essential for this kind of book - it's stuffed full of eye-candy. I love the dress on p.76 and the shoes on pp.134/5 just for starters. I encourage you to buy your own copy if you're curious to see what I mean.

Will more decades follow in this series I wonder? They're bound to if this book is successful as it should be. The authors of those other books have a lot to live up to.

*Pavilion were kind enough to send me a copy.*

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