Fashion Forward: 300 Years of Fashion

Image of Fashion Forward: 300 Years of Fashion
Release Date: 
February 13, 2017
Reviewed by: 

Warning: Readers beware!

“There are as many ways to define fashion as there are approaches to understand it . . .”
—Pamela Golbin

Fashion Forward is not some encyclopedic accounting of every fashion trend and every designer of the past three centuries but is instead an incisive and exquisitely curated overview of the world of fashion as seen through the eyes of those at Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The designers, the photographic examples, and the information that these authors proffer is not the usual list or cast of characters that so many books of this genre impart as a rule.

With that said, you must be willing to read the book and not just thumb through to look at pretty pictures as the visual angle of the book is not its primary interest; the book is meant to educate, inform, enlighten, and entertain all the while broadening and increasing your frame of reference when it concerns fashion. In order to move forward you must look back and without question Fashion Forward proves that thought to be true.

“A good coutourier must be an architect for design, a sculptor for shape, a painter for color, a musician for harmony and a philosopher for temperance”
—Hommage à Balenciaga, 1985

Keeping that in mind, the authors provide context for a particular style or for a particular designer by offering a bit of history as well as a mini biography of sorts. One of the most stunning and intriguing aspects of the book is that the visuals that are “attached” to a designer are the not the ones that will come to mind, especially for the more experienced fashion reader. For example, when one thinks of Thierry Mugler, the first thing that comes to mind is strong exaggerated shoulders and an almost futuristic silhouette which is the polar opposite of what is shown here.

Fashion Forward can be a crash course in fashion for the less exposed fashion reader while it may be a source of new insights for the more experienced and educated fashion reader. This is no dry read of facts and data but instead an engaging, provocative read that needs to be considered by anyone who has an interest in fashion.

Having completed this tome, readers will feel saddened if they have missed this wonderful presentation that ended this past spring at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.