Below are three reviews of three books that were gifted to me. I actually have planned to write a post about books that I currently possess (because each of them are really pretty and post-worthy), but writing a pretty long review for these three is my attempt to win Haruki Murakami's Strange Library from Periplus Bookstore. Wish me luck!
100 Years of Fashion
by Cally Blackman
Published in 2012
I have been drooling over this book since I saw it for the first time in a bookstore. The first silly reason is because the book jacket comes in pink, which happens to be my favorite color. The second reason is the appearance of Audrey Hepburn on the cover, a woman whom I adore and love so much. But the third reason is the strongest one: the book title. Fashion and history are two of my huge interests, and the sentence “100 Years of Fashion” couldn’t be more intriguing. I gave a hint to my boyfriend about how much I want this book and he bought it straight away for me. Score!
100 Years of Fashion is divided into two chapters: 1901-1959 and 1960-. Each chapter has its own introduction passage, which briefly yet helpfully explains about development of fashion in several notable eras. As a fan of vintage fashion, I’m truly glad to read the whole history as I imagine the ladies in Golden Era. Blackman elaborates the life of High Society women who are the biggest part of social events. And by involving in social events, having a parade of exquisite clothes and trying to be as glamour as possible are very crucial. From rare lace, tulle, corset, embroidery and hats decorated with flowers in early 1900s to sash bow, chic and simple summer dress in 1960s, women in these eras never fails to mesmerize the world; including people who live in the present. Notable fashion designers are mentioned as well, along celebrities, fashion icons and movies.
The most exciting part of this book is definitely the ‘catalogue’. Each chapter got its sub chapters, where all the beautiful pictures of dresses and ladies are. 1901-1959 is divided into High Society, Bohemian, Uniformity, Amazons, Couturiére, Star, Patriot and New Looks. 1960- is divided into Youthquake, Denim and Sport, Outsider, Designer:Minimal, Designer:Color, Designer:Concept, Designer:History and Heritage and Fashion and Fame. Sounds sophisticated? Well, you can see that 100 Years of Fashion doesn’t merely drop you a stack of photos from the past without any clear classification. Instead, it does an excellent sorting of fashion styles according to the timeline. Bohemian flappers have their own sub chapter, punk ladies have their own sub chapter and so do the chic androgynous women.
Overall, 100 Years of Fashion is a great big catalogue to see the evolution of women fashion. Clear categories, quality pictures and very informative captions help me a lot to enjoy and learn from the book at the same time. Not to mention that the smart introduction passages which tells the fashion history make this book more than just a ‘pretty book’. Everybody who puts fashion as their concern will find this book a true delight!
Wreck This Journal
by Keri Smith
Published in 2012 (expanded version)
Here it is, the infamous self-project book. I got it from my besties as a birthday present. My first Keri Smith book is This is Not a Book, a gift from my sister, and I must admit that I like it more than Wreck This Journal, mostly because This is Not a Book declares itself as “not a book”, which I find pretty funny. This is Not a Book encourages us to treat the book as worthless rubbish, and so does Wreck This Journal…but in a different way.
Wreck This Journal comes with the tagline “to create is to destroy”. I like the idea, because by doing so, you will learn that creating things doesn’t actually require crafting skills or fancy equipment. Pompous scrapbooks with decoupages could worth less than a journal full of pressed leaves and chocolate wrappers. And why? It’s because a weary journal definitely tells more valuable experiences and wittiness. Stains will make you recall a hilarious story, rather than a glittery sticker that you bought at a gift shop. If there is an exhibition of Wreck This Journal from all around the world, the diversity will blow everybody’s mind. Because a journal is someone’s personality, you will never find the exactly same journal.
Together with this journal, you are demanded to scribble violently, spill your coffee, glue random stuffs, eat artificially colored candies and lick the pages. You will find bizarre ways to create an actual art, like the page that asks you to drop an ink or paint, close the book and see what the drop makes. It reminds me of my childhood, when I spent a day with my sister by spreading a drawing book with Chinese ink. We would close the book and count to three, and voila! The messy ink smear turned into gorgeous butterflies. Oh, and now I have just realized that Wreck This Journal brings our inner child back too. This journal does not only teach us about the precious thing called effortless creativity, it also wants us to not forget about how creative and wonderful we were as children. This is amazing.
Aside from the nostalgic feelings, Wreck This Journal will give you laughter and disgust. I find it hard to do “glue in a photo of yourself you dislike and DEFACE”. It is a disgusting task, but it makes me laugh. Wreck This Journal also sets my soul as a big hoarder to freedom by giving me a page to “glue random items here: i.e things you find in your couch, on the street, etc”. I have a tendency to collect band-aids, brochures, tickets, stamps, label stickers and wild plants, so…I did have fun with that gluing random items activity. Oh and the “float this page” (as pictured above) gave me a pretty hard time because I did it at the public swimming pool.
You will undoubtedly have fun with Wreck This Journal. It doesn’t matter if people call you a weirdo by doing what the journal tells you to, as long as you are happy.
A Life of Style
by Rebecca Moses
Published in 2010
This book came in the mail, and I was truly surprised when I found out that my dear pen pal was the one who sent it to me. I couldn’t help thinking of my friend’s kindness; how could she give such a beautiful book away? But I’m definitely glad she did. A Life of Style is one thick, colorful joy.
A Life of Style was written and illustrated by Rebecca Moses, an artist and designer who is best known for her fashion label. What I see from this first book of hers, is that Rebecca must have completely poured her heart and soul into it. Total of 207 pages, all of them are fully illustrated, colored and tell a story. Rebecca herself did all of them.
Actually, writing a review of this book will not do it any justice. For me, A Life of Style is a masterpiece. The book encourages the lady readers to believe in themselves and be confident in their own skin and entertains with the playful and quirky illustration. But most of all, A Life of Style makes me feel good. As I have implied, this book teaches to feel comfortable with our very own style. There is no right and wrong, as long as the authenticity lives. One of my favorite quotations says,
“She was part of Marie Antoinette, part Indian princess, part Chinese empress, part Jane and part Mata Hari. She was character out of an exotic Hollywood movie, She was a citizen of the world, she could have been from anywhere… so exotic, so well traveled, so belonging not to one place but to every place. This was her style. The blend is what gives a sense of authenticity to style. Remember, it’s all in the mix.”
Exotic and unique. Something that I always long to see. My surrounding is full of stereotyped style, which makes me not really confident about my own. With Rebecca’s honest statements, this book is like a vacation. I feel like sticking bookmarks on almost every page because the quotes are just simply too good. Another favorite of mine:
“Why is it that what we see isn’t always what we feel? Baggage. We all have it. If we can get rid of those subliminal suitcases, we can find the courage to do what we want to do and live the style we so desire.”
The motivational quotes that Rebecca wrote speak a lot to myself, whether it’s about imperfection, quirks, celebrating the life, or leaving an impression. Some of them make me giggle too, like:
“What could be more fascinating than a King Louis chair with a Knoll marble table? A Chinese chest with a 1960s egg chair? An opulent crystal chandelier with a yellow-lacquered Parsons dining table? Unusual style marriages rarely end in divorce.”
A Life of Style makes me dream of publishing my own illustrated storybook. It simply motivates me in a lot of ways.