Dress in Detail From Around the World
by Rosemary Crill, Jennifer Wearden, and Verity Wilson
Dress in Detail is printed by the V&A Museum in London, England, and features many of the garments in their fashion & textiles archives. It is very photo-intensive, but unlike most museum catalog/collection books Dress in Detail zooms into the clothing to reveal special decorative or construction elements, like the lace trim on a neckline or the embroidery at the cuffs. So it will take a garment – say a skirt from Southern China in the late 19th century – and zoom in on the pleats embroidered with blue flowers. The photograph – extremely crisp, clear and colorful – will be a huge blow-up so that you can see in the individual beading and stitching in every blossom. The authors also included a flat line drawing of the full garment, so you can see how the clothing was constructed and where the detail was found on the garment. The book is divided into the following segments/chapters: Necklines, Fastenings, Cuffs Edges & Seams, Contrasting Fabrics, Linings and Pockets, Pleats and Gathers, Applied Decorations.
The V&A tried to showcase a variety of clothes from around the world, but they do not include any offerings from North America or Australia and very few from South American and Africa. The various garments come from China, East Asia, and Eastern Europe. There isn’t a lot of text, although each article of clothing has a paragraph or two detailing methods of construction, historical/cultural significance, and information for about the original owner when possible.
This book is so focused on the details that, tragically, you never see a full-body shot of any of the garments. The reader is shown a line drawing of a coat and a photograph of the coat’s buttons, but never a photo of the coat itself. So I think that this book’s interest may be limited. As a fashion student I find it fascinating, and I’m sure someone who sews would find it inspiring. But for someone who follows fashion casually or not at all, I don’t think this book will be very appealing.