Fashion, and indeed anti-fashion, have for centuries been used as a marker of identity, to politicise the body and for public relations. This April, an array of books tap into these themes through the lens of gender. Masculinity materialises in Peter McNeil book that maps the history of macaroni men and Jay McCauley Bowstead’s book explores the more recent menswear revolution. Meanwhile, Tessa Boase’s book ties together fathers, fashion and suffragettes, and Iris Apfel tells her story as a ‘rare bird’.
Pretty Gentlemen: Macaroni Men and the Eighteenth-Century Fashion World by Peter McNeil
The term “macaroni” was once as familiar a label as “punk” or “hipster” is today. In this handsomely illustrated book devoted to notable 18th-century British male fashion, award-winning author and fashion historian Peter McNeil brings together dress, biography, and historical events with the broader visual and material culture of the late 18th century. For thirty years, macaroni was a highly topical word, yielding a complex set of social, sexual, and cultural associations. Pretty Gentlemen is grounded in surviving dress, archival documents, and art spanning hierarchies and genres, from scurrilous caricature to respectful portrait painting. Celebrities hailed and mocked as macaroni include politician Charles James Fox, painter Richard Cosway, freed slave Julius “Soubise,” and criminal parson Reverend Dodd. The style also rapidly spread to neighboring countries in cross-cultural exchange, while Horace Walpole, George III, and Queen Charlotte were active critics and observers of these foppish men.
Published by Yale Books
Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon by Iris Apfel
A unique and lavishly illustrated collection of musings, anecdotes, and observations on all matters of life and style, infused with the singular candor, wit, and exuberance of the globally revered ninety-six-year-old fashion icon whose work has been celebrated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and by countless fans worldwide.
A woman who transcends time and trends, Iris Apfel is a true original, one of the most dynamic personalities in the worlds of fashion, textiles, and interior design. As the cofounder with her husband, Carl Apfel, of Old World Weavers, an international textile manufacturing company that specialized in reproducing antique fabrics, her prestigious clientele has included Greta Garbo, Estee Lauder, Montgomery Clift, and Joan Rivers. She also acted as a restoration consultant and replicated fabric for the White House over nine presidential administrations. Iris’s travels worldwide and a passion for flea markets of all sorts inspired her work and fueled her passion for collecting fashion and accessories.
In 2005, she was the first living person who was not a designer to have her clothing and accessories exhibited at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a blockbuster show that catapulted her to fame and a career as a supermodel, muse, and collaborator for renowned brands, from Citroen to Tag Heuer, and global gigs at Bon Marché in Paris and the Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. In 2015, acclaimed director Albert Maysles released Iris, his last film—now an Emmy Award nominee—to a global audience.
Now, this self-dubbed geriatric starlet, whose irrepressible authenticity, wit, candor, and infectious energy have earned her nearly a million followers on social media, has created an entertaining, thought-provoking, visually arresting, and inspiring volume—her first book—that captures her unique joie de vivre. Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon, contains an eclectic mix of musings and 180 full-color and black-and-white photos and illustrations—presented in the same improvisational, multifaceted style that have made Iris a contemporary fashion icon. Astute maxims, witty anecdotes from childhood to the present, essays on style and various subjects, from the decline of manners to the importance of taking risks, fill the book as do lists, both proclamatory, revelatory, and advisory.
All are paired with a bold, color-filled, exciting design that varies from page to page. Here, too, is a treasure trove of never-before-published personal photographs and mementos, mixed with images from top international fashion photographers and illustrators with enchanting, surprising novelties such as Disney cartoons, vintage postcards, the Iris Apfel Halloween costume for children, and more.
Published by Harper Design
Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather: Fashion, Fury and Feminism – Women’s Fight for Change by Tessa Boase
When Mrs Pankhurst stormed the House of Commons with her crack squad of militant suffragettes in 1908, she wore on her hat a voluptuous purple feather. This is the intriguing story behind that feather.
Twelve years before the suffragette movement began dominating headlines, a very different women’s campaign captured the public imagination. Its aim was radical: to stamp out the fashion for feathers in hats. Leading the fight was a character just as heroic as Emmeline Pankhurst, but with opposite beliefs. Her name was Etta Lemon, and she was anti-fashion, anti-feminist – and anti-suffrage.
Mrs Lemon has been forgotten by history, but her mighty society lives on. Few, today, are aware that Britain’s biggest conservation charity, the RSPB, was born through the determined efforts of a handful of women, led by the indomitable Mrs Lemon. While the suffragettes were slashing paintings and smashing shop windows, Etta Lemon and her local secretaries were challenging ‘murderous millinery’ all the way up to Parliament.
This gripping narrative explores two singular heroines – one lionised, the other forgotten – and their rival, overlapping campaigns. Moving from the feather workers’ slums to the highest courtly circles, from the first female political rally to the first forcible feeding, Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather is a unique journey through a society in transformation.
This is a highly original story of women stepping into the public sphere, agitating for change – and finally finding a voice.
Published by Aurum Press
Menswear Revolution: The Transformation of Contemporary Men’s Fashion by Jay McCauley Bowstead
In recent years, menswear has moved decisively center stage. Menswear Revolution investigates the transformation of men’s fashion through the lens of shifting masculinities, examining how its increasing diversity has created new ways for men to explore and express their identities. Harnessing sustained market growth and creative dynamism on the runway, ground-breaking designers from Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane to Craig Green have revolutionized the discipline with their bold re-imaginings of the male wardrobe.
Analysing the role of the media in shaping attitudes to men’s fashion, Menswear Revolution studies how competing narratives of masculinity are reflected in popular discourse. Taking us from the mod and peacock revolutions of the 1960s to the new wave aesthetics of the 1980s, the book explores historical precedents for today’s menswear scene – and looks at the evolution of the ‘ideal’ male body, from the muscular to the lean and boyish.
Combining interviews with fashion professionals with close analyses of garments and advertising, Menswear Revolution provides an authoritative account of menswear design today. Highlighting its relationship to changing concepts of gender, the book provides a much-needed update to scholarship on masculinity, fashion and the body.
Published by Bloomsbury