Fashion Drive

Image of Fashion Drive: Extreme Clothing in the Visual Arts
Release Date: 
June 26, 2018
Kerber Verlag
Reviewed by: 

From its title and front cover one might expect that what awaits will be some historical romp through fashion starting with the second half of the 20th century concluding in today’s world of fashion. Something that this reviewer has learned during many years in the fashion business is that assumption is mother of all screw-ups and that’s the sanitized version that best sums up the reality vs. expectation aspect of this book.

“Fashion is both a driving force and a dilemma: it can be unbearably superficial and at the same time a serous indicator of social change.” This quote appears in the introduction followed on the next page by “clothing is a second skin of humans. When it becomes fashion, it expresses something about the intentions of the wearer.”

Instead of those faulty preconceived notions the prospective reader will be faced with an in depth fashion journey from cod pieces to court clothes to cocktail dresses to couture—and that’s an extremely short summary of what is put under this book’s fashion microscope.

All things considered, the authors deliver an almost encyclopedic perspective on the history of fashion starting over 500 years ago—indeed a far cry from most reader’s possible expectations. Had this not been a catalog devoted to a museum show (Kunsthaus Zurich), this reviewer might have called out Fashion Drive as pretentious, pedantic, scholarly and almost thesis like in its excruciating detail and dryness. Many or all of that can be forgiven when you take into account the context of this compendium.

In the end, the Fashion Drive is no easy light read; rather it is a very fact laden informational one that is written in a straight forward, almost textbook like way. Fashion Drive, for this reviewer, caused a slight case of mental indigestion given that there is so much detail and such a huge amount of minutiae that one’s brain is taxed beyond the usual reading experience. Unquestionably, there will be readers who revel in this kind of telling, and rest assured that the imagery in the book is quite wonderful, but in order to really gain the full impact you must read it, and therein lies the fly in the ointment.

Read at your own risk.