“. . . a primer into the world of haute couture . . . ”
Although this jewel of a book serves as a catalogue for the Victoria & Albert exhibit, the contents serve many different purposes. First, there is the beautiful photography of David Hughes; second, there are the gowns made famous by the parties worn at, the designers who made them, and then by the wearers of the beauties; and last, Ballgowns reacquaints us with designers who have been all but forgotten in the annals of fashion history.
Obviously, with England a monarchy, there was a huge call for gowns of this nature starting in the 50s and spanning into the 70s when a new breed of designer surfaced to coincide with the cultural zeitgeist. Gone were the likes of Norman Hartnell, John Cavanaugh, and Hardy Amies, and in rode Bill Gibb, Victor Edelstein, Murray Arbeid, Zandra Rhodes, Bellville Sassoon, and Yuki. And after them came their contemporaries such as the late Alexander McQueen, Catherine Walker, Erdem, Mark Fast, and Gareth Pugh. The book gives us the evolution of the gowns, those who designed them, and those who wore them.
Ballgowns is a celebration of an art form that might disappear in this century, and this volume will remain as a photographic history of what and who made London fashion an unmistakable force in the 20th century. The book also explains the needs that necessitated the more prevalent boutique or ready to wear collections that now pervade the fashion scene.
Without hesitation, one can say this is a primer into the world of haute couture that is so often represented by this fashion artform. You will be educated, enlightened, and amused by the text as well as with the gorgeous images that fill the book. One slight criticism is that it might have been preferable were all the photographs in color.