Book reviews

I enjoy reading a variety of non-fiction books and over the last few years I’ve published reviews for some of the fashion or textile-related ones. Click on the links below to read my thoughts on them.

Another book review-Gods and Kings

This book is a fascinating insight to the lives and parallel careers of John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. I found it absorbing and very well written with plenty of illustrations.

A review of Vivienne Westwood’s biography

If you’re interested in hearing about the extraordinary and varied career of this hugely influential figure in the world of fashion from her own perspective then this could be the book for you.

The Little Book of Sewing by Karen Ball 

Karen Ball of Did You Make That? blog wrote this lovely little book a couple of years ago now but it’s charming read. It isn’t a ‘how-to’ guide, more of a ‘why you should’ sew book 

Other textiles or fashion-related books I’ve read more recently, but not reviewed here, include The Golden Thread by Kassia St Clair, which is a wordy but enlightening history of the development of fibres, fabrics and textiles from ancient history right up to innovations of the present day, and beyond. My only quibble is that there are no illustrations at all which I found quite strange given that the topic is so very visual. Worth the effort none the less.

The Button Box by Lynn Knight is a lovely book which uses the clever device of the writer’s own button box as the springboard to describe the lives of women in Britain through the 20th century. By taking individual buttons she refers to the garments they came from, which often belonged to the women in her own family, and the purpose or events that the garment was used for. It’s a clever and original way of talking about social history whilst making it personal and relatable. I really enjoyed it.

I read Coco Chanel:the Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie some years ago but it’s a very well written account of one of the most influential women in fashion. Plenty of illustrations in this one too.

Blow by Blow is a biography of the unique Isabella Blow, written by her husband Detmar Blow. She was a stylist and fashion director for a number of high-end publications including British Vogue and Tatler during her career but she is probably most remembered for having discovered, and launching the careers of, Alexander McQueen and milliner Philip Treacy. A fascinating but ultimately tragic woman.

Inside Vogue: My Diary of Vogue’s 100th Year by Alexandra Schulman is exactly what it says it is! Schulman doesn’t always come over as especially likeable, although the position she held as editor of British Vogue for 25 years probably meant she didn’t have to be nice, she had a job to do which could be very stressful quite a lot of the time. As you would expect, the book was well written, and readable, and gives the reader an intriguing insight to organising everything that celebrated one hundred years of Vogue magazine.