FASHION FROM BEHIND THE SCENES
When I read in the introduction that the interviews were conducted between 2005 and 2013 and that only three conversations were done specifically for this book, I though that first of all it would be probably accidental selection-wise and secondly, given the pace of changes in the fashion world, the material would be out-of-date but I couldn’t be more wrong.
25 in-depth interviews have been conducted with great knowledge and humour. The Jan Kedves’ aim, as the author outlines it in the intro, was to bring together a number of different perspectives, which has been executed in a brilliant way through the book. Those insightful conversations present a complex picture of fashion that has become an important part of our culture. The author is very knowledgeable and well-prepared so it’s a pleasure to immerse into the world of each fashion professional, especially that vital issues are discussed here, they not only share experience but also comment on the market pressure, the idea of belonging to a huge group or the role of technological innovations etc.
In short – amazing, as first-hand, insight into the world of fashion on all possible levels. Let me mention some of my favourite conversations: Jean-Paul Goude, designer who processes photographs as illustrations, speaks on Photoshop and his famous X campaign for KENZO. Designer Rick Owens comments not only on his signature bias cut but also his sculptural furniture (that include most surprising elements like human skulls). Trendsetter Nick Knight discusses the power of the Internet, embracing technological innovations and why the online platform SHOWstudio.com has been revolutionary. Iris van Herpen who is an extremely creative designer tells why she injects her work with knowledge from other disciplines, how ballet helps her to understand the human body and what does it mean to use 3D printing in the process. Loic Prigent, the leading documentary film-maker, describes how he documents leading designers’ process and their ateliers. Vera von Lehndorff, one of the first top models, reveals ‘Veruschka’ strategy or details on her friendship with Diana Vreeland and criticizes model-casting TV shows. Charlie Le Mindu, edgy hairdresser, discusses haute coiffure and his amazing wigs (Lady Gaga is a huge fan!). Vivianne Sassen explains how she works on campaigns that result with blurring the boundaries between art and fashion photography. Finally – from theoretical perspective Barbara Vinken (author of ‘Fashion Zeitgeist’ by Prestel) defines where fashion finds itself today and Valerie Steele (fashion historian and curator) comments on the global boom of fashion museum exhibitions.
This is just a small selection of topics and people, you will find much more in the book. In ‘Talking Fashion’ the author gathered quite a crowd of fashion professionals and each field is originally represented by people who either play crucial roles in revolutionary moments in the history of fashion like Jean-Paul Goude or are “pushing fashion into the future” as Nick Knight described his activities at SHOWstudio. All conversations bring lots of inspiration as they’re about the power of creative minds and the challenges taken up successfully by the interviewers. Fashion is in a state of flux and it more and more often converses with art, technology or science, which makes it fascinating.
Last but not least – ‘Talking Fashion’ is well-designed (all looks so good, even the paper) and nicely illustrated (newest campaigns included!) so that everyone knows exactly what the interlocutors speak about. Next week, I will tell you about another good book published by Prestel. Stay tuned!
Jan Kedves: To truly understand the phenomenon of fashion one has to look at related fields as well – and ask, for instance, how clothes are staged by photographers, how they are worn by models and stars, how journalists and bloggers write about collections, and how conglomerates market their brands. The work of curators who exhibit fashion and theorists and historians who evaluate it form a scholarly standpoint also forms and important part of the picture.
* The cover features Victoria Beckham (btw Happy 40!) stuck into a large shopping bag so that we can only see her legs. The photo was taken by Juergen Teller for a Marc Jacobs campaign in 2007.