Book Review: 20th Century Fashion: 100 Years of Apparel Ads

Being a girl who once plastered her walls with magazine pages, I was pretty pleased to learn about this book’s existence, which shows just how beautiful and influential fashion adverts can be. 100 Years of Apparel Ads is sorted into decade-spanning chapters, each with its own brief and basic overview of fashion history (also in French and German). The text-heavy ads from the beginning of the century are almost unrecognizable; their copy tells of technological textile triumphs and persuades the customer politely to consider quality and price, alongside a delicate technical illustration. Through this collection, it is fascinating to watch these earnest endorsements of tangible apparel products slowly transform into practically the opposite: glossy photographs of models’ faces with only brand names to accompany them. I can’t think of many industries that could thrive without advertising, but surely fashion is one that wouldn’t even exist without it. This book serves as definitive proof.

by Jim Heimann and Alison A. Nieder – Taschen
reviewed by Alexandra Barton (originally published in Worn Fashion Journal Issue 9)

photography by Jessica da Silva