When I first received My Wonderful World of Fashion, my main concern was that I would write such a raving review that I’d sound like the publisher’s flack. Nina Chakrabarti’s lovely line drawings take us on an interactive tour of fashion history, letting her young audience explore their own twists on the designs en route. Opening it made me want to either take a hot tub back in time to play with it as a 12-year-old, or breed purely for the pleasure of giving it to my girls later.
The book contains a mishmash of colouring, design and basic crafty projects, the latter all simple enough that a ten- to thirteen-year-old (which seems to be her target audience) could do them without adult help. My favourite pages let you colour in iconic designs such as Marc Jacobs’ animal-face flats, Elsa Schiaperelli’s shoe hat, Hussein Chalayan’s wooden corset, Ferragamo platforms and two full pages of Roger Vivier pumps! She also includes guides to a mixed bag of sartorial topics, such as basic embroidery stitches, Yoruba Adire textile patterns and antique Bengali jewels, and throws in the odd project like making paperclip necklaces or pom-poms. She is keen to teach, often showing her audience how to draw an article and then giving them space to get creative with it; so, for example, she’ll include several examples of collar lace to colour in, followed by a page of blank collars where her users might render their own lace patterns.
I decided to test drive this bad-boy with an accomplice, the lovely and talented Miss Eva Barney, 11. Eva is a young designer, currently drawing a portfolio of her own dress patterns around a demanding public school schedule. I couldn’t have asked for a more fun book review buddy, and she helped me catch some of the book’s age-appropriate foibles that I otherwise would have missed.