Winter 2005

The cutting edge of fashion

Sample, 100 Fashion Designers, 010 Curators

Editor: Bronwyn Cosgrave. Design: Julia Hasting. Phaidon, £45, USD85

There is something unfashionably large and ill-fitting about this book in a series that has featured art, product design, architecture, photography and graphic design. Weighing in at three kilos, this 420-page tome features an impressive and eclectic mix of work by 100 fashion designers selected by ten ‘curators’ from the world of fashion.

Each selected designer is given two double-page spreads. Work featured includes jewellery by Lara Bohinc, shoes by Rupert Sanderson, the bespoke suits of Andrew Harmon, Susan Cianciolo’s alternative bohemia and Fötus’ techno cyber-fashion, as well as Yohji Yamamoto and Adidas’ brand collaboration Y-3. The decision to show the work alphabetically renders it not so much an ‘exhibition in a book’, as a directory.

Don’t expect too much critical analysis: the mention of Christopher Bailey’s sexing-up of Burberry by the introduction of a bikini in the famous check is explained by Tim Blanks in his essay as giving the brand ‘a widely democratic appeal, from football fans to supermodels’. We are not shown the bikini, nor is there mention of its role in changing the status of a brand by its subsequent adoption by Chavs.

At 338mm x 291mm, with pleated cover shortened to allow the fore edge to extend in sections to continue the pleated theme, the book is an awkward object; after limited handling it began to look tatty and dated. The gimmicky cover may deter any serious reading of the subject beyond surface, thus unintentionally providing a comment on the industry it is meant to showcase.

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