We are pleased to announce that Fashion Sourcebook 1920s has now been released in stores!
The first in a series of books documenting fashion, decade by decade, this title is chock-a-block with illustrations and photographs of 1920s women sporting typical fashions of the day.
When one usually thinks of 1920s fashion, flappers in drop-waisted beaded dresses, T-bar shoes and bobbed hair spring to mind. This is not entirely inaccurate, as can be seen in many of the images in this book. But the beauty of this collection is that it not only looks at this stereotypical 1920s style, but also at what everyday women would have worn.
The majority of the images in the book were sourced from antique clothing catalogues and magazines, many of them offering alternatives to outrageously priced designer gear, or patterns for you to run up your own garments - although viewing them now, almost a hundred years on, we must remember that the majority of images are representative of what a bright young thing would have worn. It would appear that in terms of the idolisation of youth, beauty and slenderness, fashion magazines were much the same in the 1920s as they are in 2012. To quote from Emmanuelle Dirix's insightful introduction to the book, "A mature woman in the 1920s was as unlikely to dress in a short beaded dress, as a mature woman would indulge in the latest hot-pants craze [now]."
As true then as it is now, though, is that styles trickled down from the couture 'maisons' in Paris and found their way into women's wardrobes, albeit in a more diluted form. Coco Chanel's use of jersey fabrics for daywear is just one example of the phenomenal influence of high fashion houses on the average woman's wardrobe. Chanel's pauvre chic garments were, as Dirix points out, for the "far from pauvre" - despite the relaxed, leisurewear-influenced look of the clothes, they were still made from the finest fabrics and had a high price. Nevertheless, this influence of casual sportswear made a huge contribution to breaking down the formality and restrictiveness of pre-1920s womenswear.
Along with the idea that all young Twenties women were flappers, another commonly bandied about 'fact' is that black became fashionable in the 1920s (with the Chanel 'Little Black Dress' blazing the trail), previously having been reserved for widow's weeds. Dirix tells us that 'It was still the mourning colour but not exclusively. And as the images in this book demonstrate, the widespread enthusiasm for simple black dresses in both upper and middle-market publications dispels the myth that only after Chanel launched her LBD was it possible for women of all classes to copy it and turn it into a universal uniform.'
The adoption of more casual clothing for the day, the abandonment of restrictive corsetry (although some support was still required for the boyish figure that was so desirable), the shortening of hemlines, and all the other visible changes to women's fashion in this period are contextualised with an analysis of current events which, as well as changing lives, changed fashion.
These women and girls were living in the shadow of the just-ended First World War, a war during and after which women were 'catapulted from the kitchen sink to employment outside the home, and so were now often the principal breadwinners.' As Dirix says, 'Needless to say, in the post-war period women were not prticularly inclined to meekly return to their previous domestic duties of baking and childrearing once their men came home.' Additionally, as millions of women experienced, their men would never come home. The 1920s could be said to be the most revolutionary decade in the 20th century in terms of women's lives and the clothes they wore - which we learn from this book are signifiers of the greater events and changes that were taking place at the time.
This unique collection of images and groundbreaking introduction by a renowned fashion historian make this a truly special new title. Click the image below to get your copy now!
Exciting news, blog readers! We've been working on this for a long time now and we are thrilled to announce that our very first iBook is now available to buy.
For our first foray into the digital publishing world, we chose The Little Book of Shocking Food Facts. When this book series was devised, Charlotte and Peter Fiell instantly knew that it would make a fantastic digital product. With the development of the iPad, and then the iPad 2, it was clear that this book would sing in this medium. The format and the bright and striking imagery could have been designed specifically for this purpose, and this book has truly come into its own in this new digital edition.
Combining thought-provoking graphic imagery with groundbreaking information culled from some of the most authoritative sources around the world, The Little Book of Shocking Food Facts is literally jam-packed with essential truths you need to know about global food politics, fast food culture and healthy nutrition. This informative and visually stunning book is guaranteed to alter the way you think about food production, while also changing your personal eating habits for the better.
The Little Book of Shocking Food Facts iBook features beautiful digital imagery and a high level of interactivity. Not only are celebrated graphic designer Craig Holden Feinberg's images striking, each and every page holds a portal to original sources and scientific papers that lay out conclusive evidence of these facts. This is infographics taken to a whole new level: information literally at your fingertips in a matter of seconds, and presented beautifully.
This innovative new iBook displays a level of interactivity and sensitivity towards user needs that no previous digital illustrated book product has shown.
On until the 11th of March, the latest installation in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern is Tacita's Dean's FILM. An arresting analysis of the digital vs analogue argument, FILM fills a gigantic 13 metre screen at the end of the hall, while viewers watch in silence from the balcony or gaze upwards from the ground floor.
Dean's love of analogue and her despair at the closing of London's last 16mm film developing lab were documented in the Guardian by the artist back in February. The loss of analogue formats has long been lamented by artists such as Dean. The tactile quality and rich detail captured by analogue cameras is beautiful to behold, as admirable for the format itself as its content.
The demise of Polaroid marked a particular milestone for the death of the analogue camera; despite Polaroid being the medium of choice for hipster art students (I myself am in possession of an enormous back catalogue of embarrassingly pretentious Polaroid shots from my art school days) the market was no longer big enough to justify its production.
Dean herself spoke of the fact that "film is chemistry: chemistry that has produced the miracle of the moving image", and this is the miracle of analogue formats. Perhaps it is a somewhat old-fashioned stance to take, but the pleasure of shooting with celluloid film or an analogue camera is in having the skill and knowledge to do this not just correctly but with innovation and vision, and then to witness the magic of photo development or working together with an expert film technician to create something truly individual. As Dean says, "My films are depictions of their subject and therefore closer to painting than they are to narrative cinema." The human touch is what makes her work so special, so different from a digital film as CGI is from painting. Bizarrely, the closure of print labs coincides with a huge increase in filmmakers choosing to use celluloid film.
It is not just the art world where the sudden threat of losing access to such media is spurring a newfound love for traditional processes. The past decade has seen a shift in the graphic design and illustration worlds towards processes such as screen-printing, letterpress, and letraset. Young designers' love of these tactile media is evident in the swathe of hand-printed zines, posters and t-shirts that are available at the numerous design and craft fairs that have been springing up all over London in recent years. A backlash against digital saturation? Maybe. Or perhaps a reaction to the straitened times in which we live, a desire to 'do it yourself'.
Here at FIELL we, like most other publishers, often contend with the idea of "the death of print". We strongly believe that as long as people love illustrated books, they will love print - digital products such as apps and eBooks are as valid a medium and extremely powerful, but a digital product is a completely different product. As with analogue and digital film, the experience is visually completely different. The predominance of digital film or digital book products should not automatically eradicate analogue or printed work. The two should complement each other, and be appreciated for what they are; art forms.
Posted by Isabel
As we are winding up for the Christmas break this week we thought we would join the rest of the blogging world and give you some hot tips on Christmas gifts, for those of you who (like us) inevitably end up spending Christmas Eve running around like maniacs in the gift section of Marks & Spencer. This year our early resolution has been to be slightly more organised, but failing that, the following treats ought to put a smile on the faces of all but the most Scrooge-like gift receivers.
A perfect stocking filler from Toast, and also unbreakable, handy as a gift for the student house-sharer in your life (and also for when you are bashing other Christmas shoppers around the knees with your shopping bags).
The White's Books edition of Sherlock Holmes is beautifully bound with a cover illustrated by Michael Kirkham. Perfect for a fan of the great detective, and with a couple of new instalments coming out on screen this winter (Benedict Cumberbatch vs. Robert Downey Jr as Holmes? No contest. Sorry, Robert!) there are sure to be some avid new fans out there.
This incredibly elegant decanter is a surefire way to impress in-laws, siblings, parents, and friends with your impeccable taste, and it makes a stunning centrepiece for a festive table spread with goodies. Riedel have 11 generations of glass manufacturing behind them, and their wine glasses and decanters are so uniquely well-designed we featured them in Tools for Living.
One of our most recent books here at FIELL, La Dolce Vita embodies the glamour and excitement of Italy in the late 1950s, when celebrities flocked to Rome and Venice, all the while being documented by the paparazzi. Stephen Bayley's incisive introduction and captions are a treat, and anyone with a passion for photography and celebrity culture will love this.
My friend used to bring these round to our house every Boxing Day, and they disappeared within seconds. Lidl has a fantastic range of German Christmas delicacies, and they are all so cheap you will probably buy ten packets and completely ruin your Christmas dinner. So worth it.
Meet Me in St Louis is without question the best Christmas movie of all time, featuring the most poignant Christmas song ever written. Buy a ticket to see it on the big screen for yourself and a loved one at the BFI and you will both laugh and cry your way through this musical masterpiece.
Lego have a collection of 'Architecture' kits with a selection of iconic buildings, for a young budding architect or perhaps the architect who never grew up.
Last but not least, anyone who has read any article about fashion in the past 6 months will know that 2012 has been slated as the year of the 1920s fashion revival - drop-waists and fringing will abound. Any fashionista worth her salt will want Fashion Sourcebook 1920s, and if you miss your Christmas deadline then this will be a lovely new year surprise for them, as it comes out in January.
Happy holidays everyone, see you in the New Year!
Gerhard Richter's Panorama at Tate Modern (on until the 8th of January) is a retrospective of the artist's monumental body of work. The work fills an astounding 14 rooms in the gallery, which is no mean feat, especially considering that the artist is still creating work today.
Each room showcases a particular painting style of Richter's, displaying an array of techniques and ideas. He has said of his multifaceted approach to working, "I hate repeating myself; it gives me no pleasure whatsoever. Once I've understood something, I need to start off on new ground."
Richter's rich collection of work includes landscapes, portraits, and still lives as well as abstractions, glass sculptures, mirrors and metal spheres, all somehow entering into one central dialogue with one another. Each room has its own atmosphere, and walking from room to room the viewer becomes aware of the enormous depth and variety in Richter's ideas and methods.
Richter's career began in the 1960s, when his main focus was experimenting with painting from photography, as well as addressing Germany’s history of National Socialism and the trappings of modern 1960s life. Reflecting this, upon entrance the exhibition showcases black and white canvases of painted photographs from magazines, war imagery and the commodities of domestic life. In these works, he renders his perception of reality as devoid of colour, "because all the newspapers, the daily diet of photographic material, including television, was black and white, and the photo albums and photography itself – all of it was black and white."
What follows in the fourth room is a juxtaposition of grey and colour chart-style canvases. The latter (evocative of 1960s pop art) reflect the range of colours represented in 1960s products, advertisements and packaging, addressing the kind of late 60s consumerism that Richter found himself faced with. These canvases could be described as examples of the Capitalist Realism movement. The greys, on the other hand, indicate an absence of association and opinion, a bleak prospect; Richter comments on the memory of the horror and misery of WWII concentration camps.
Richter continuously questions realism in painting, as proven by some of the responses he produced to other artists’ works. The painting of ‘Ema’ is an antagonistic reaction to Duchamp’s ‘Nude Descending a staircase’. Whereas Duchamp presents a very mechanical, de-eroticised image shrouded in cubist confinement, Richter opposes this certain kind of painting by producing a ‘conventional nude’ and painting it from a photograph, rendering this a strangely impersonal piece. ‘Ema’ appears to be illuminated by a blur, giving an air of mystery.
Many of Richter’s works are painted from photography and ooze blurry mysticism. This poses questions about vision in contemplation, and whether perception enables or confuses our understanding of the world, as he claims: ‘I can make no statement about reality clearer than my own relationship to reality; and this has a great deal to do with imprecision, uncertainty, transience, incompleteness, or whatever.’ These blurry paintings appear again and again, from room to room, exhibiting Richter’s ongoing dialogue with rightness and truth.
‘Stuhl im Profil’ (Stool in Profile) also recalls Joseph Beuys’ ‘Fettstuhl’ (Fat Chair). Beuys’ work utilises symbolism and has a sense of sincerity communicated through the natural materials he collates, as well as opposing society's concept of 'art' by counteracting aesthetic pleasure. Richter however painted a chair that belonged to him, uncovering the daily banality of life – a challenge to reconsider the fundamental function of objects.
As well as responding to various modern works of art, Richter reinterprets classical mastership, resurrecting it in a kind of contemporary renaissance. Ranging from romanticist ideas in his seascapes to works with religious connotations in Annunciation and Cloud Triptych, Richter alludes to the original works of Caspar David Friedrich, Titian and Vermeer, inviting us to reevaluate the meaning of their concepts in the context of the modern world.
Richter’s abstract work begins to question the concept of storytelling itself. The ‘War Cut’ – a book made from newspaper cut-outs juxtaposed with his abstract painting - debates the power of representation, implying that the way texts and images influence each other may change their meaning altogether. In this instance, the text assigns symbolism to non-representational images. Similarly the Cage Paintings series, produced by a process of layering and erasing, make no allusion to realism. The subject no longer counts and the compositions of paint and colour become the subject in itself. These gigantic palettes embody the idea ‘I have nothing to say and I’m saying it’ (John Cage, 1989) and propose a re-imagining of the world as seen by Richter, unlike traditional notions of representation in painting. They seem almost mathematical in their construction, as if being executed to a colour algorithm, constantly diverging and converging in jagged frequency.
Posted by Kristina