Icons of Women’s and Men’s Style


I picked these books up when I attended Graduate Fashion Week last summer. There is the first of its kind behind nearly every item in the wardrobe. I enjoyed looking through the books to see that although the definitive example, often created by a single designer, has achieved icon status, its various reinterpretations have become fashion staples season after season. Especially in the men’s style book, definite examples were designed for a specific use; it was interesting to see how the styles have evolved over time.

I love how the books are set out; they are so simple and the illustrations and large imagery really speak for themselves, not needing much of an explanation. On adjacent pages, I saw item by item, the most influential and legendary garments and accessories.

The books gave me a really digestible history lesson and made me more aware of the subtle differences between certain styles.

The men’s cargo pants developed from the medieval period in to a more practical garment with more pockets and movement. I didn’t realise that during Second World War, distinctive pockets on the trousers categorised the uniform worn by US paratroopers - who often added an additional pocket, making them the only servicemen generally permitted to make alterations to their uniform. A type of cargo pants are still worn today which infers that people approve of moving away from the norms; adjusting the traditional aesthetic.

The women’s trouser suit is still being supported today. I am a massive lover of wearing trousers on a daily basis. However, in the 1920’s and 30’s it was bold for women to play with gender stereotyping. Elsa Schiaparelli designed some of the early suits and Frida Kahlo also wore the suits. However I believe that this was more accepted because of their artistic nature and celebrity status. I consider we have gone back to the 1940’s where trousers were worn for sports and leisure. The suit today could symbolise the rise of business women and the power of the female empowerment movement. Suits today range from a softer silhouette, like the one popularised by Yves Saint Laurent in the mid-1960s to a more fitted body and looser leg, combining structure and casual.

These two books will be a great resource for me to use throughout my time on FCP. The provenance and history of each item is explored in-depth which is a good way for me to understand the stories of the designs and appreciate the celebrities who made them famous. It was also clear that some of the styles are recurring today, shaping the way we dress.


FashionRachel Fox