Scrolling through the endless list of fashion bloggers in my Google Reader, I’m often left hazily trying to remember the “who’s who” and the “who wore what” of the fashion blogosphere. Outfit photos are updated daily, new bloggers are constantly emerging, and the images and clothing we love on one day become ephemeral, disappearing into the sartorial black hole we call fashion blogging. Simone Werle’s Style Diaries attempts to pin down the inherently fleeting nature of the “daily outfit shot,” fossilizing these images between cover and spine. The pocket-sized book serves as an interesting freeze frame of indie dress and culture at a particular moment in time and, of course, as seen through Werle’s lens. In just short of 400 pages, Werle profiles dozens of fashion bloggers, who she claims make up “the most visible arm of the indie fashion scene.” While these profiles are predominately made up of striking images ripped straight from the archives of each blog, each blogger is also introduced with a short blurb of personal facts.
Just shy of 200 pages, Fashion for Jewels assumes the daunting task of categorizing the last 100 years of Western jewelery design. In 39 loose chapters ranging from “Art Nouveau” to “Punks, Piercings and Pins,” author (and British Vogue jewelery editor) Carol Woolton attempts to dissect the unending reciprocal pull between fashion and jewelery. She reveals that “in the hands of great designers a piece of jewelery can become a precious, sculpted snapshot, encapsulating the fine and decorative arts, fashion, cinema and architecture of the time it was made, reflecting like a mirror the current zeitgeist and social history of the period.” Quite a mouthful for a coffee table book in which almost two-thirds of the pages picture sparkly stones set in gold.
Nonetheless, Woolton packs the history of each movement (from both clothing and jewelery perspectives) into around four pages: one page detailing the historical context and fashion trends of the movement followed by two brief profiles on jewelers, icons, or specific styles within each category. For example, the section titled “Twinset and Pearls” profiles Japanese pearl farmer Kokichi Mikimoto alongside Princess Diana. Each section is also framed with a full-page colour photograph, most often from a runway show that corresponds to the following chapter.
While the organization may seem fairly straightforward, the extensive amount of information being relayed in such short bursts, combined with the visual overload, left me feeling overwhelmed. Each image provides accurate visual cues for the various topics at hand and is exquisitely rich in detail and colour. However, they don’t always match the pieces described within the text. In a chapter focusing on Rock and Roll inspired jewels, Woolton describes “diamond tattoos in the shape of peace signs, zodiac symbols and spinning star rings,” as well as “a rock and roll version of the ID bracelet using lapis, emeralds, diamonds and heavy-linked macho straps.” My eye darted around the page looking for these pieces, only to be greeted with a fire engine red circular necklace and a set of silver rings. So although it’s one of those books you can flip open at random and enjoy, (the images alone provide ample stimulus for the wandering eye), when it actually comes down to reading, there is an uncomfortable disconnect between text and image; my comprehension of the chapter was more cluttered than my own wooden jewelery box.
If you are looking for a clear-cut, linear history of jewelery, this isn’t the book for you. The chapters jump back and forth in time between movements, so reading it in one sitting may make you feel as if you’re trapped in a cyclone picking up every piece of jewelery from the last century. I was clicking my bejeweled ruby heels, wanting to go home.
Fashion for Jewels: 100 Years of Styles and Icons by Carol Woolton, Prestel, 2010
Review by Casie Brown
Photography by Valentina RossMottley
Originally hailing from Tacoma, Washington, a city with a reputation for being both grimy and gritty, Kat Brightwell is an American girl who recently found her new home in Toronto. Her adoration of architecture is clear in her structured, strong, and often bold clothing choices and her interest in restoration lies not only in buildings, but also in eyewear and shoes. In the future she wants to study architecture, not so that she can create new buildings but so that she can use her knowledge toward sustaining the past.
What’s the first outfit you remember wearing in Toronto?
The first outfit I remember wearing in Toronto consisted of a plaid bubble-hem skirt, and a shirt with a little sailor collar. It was December of 2009, we were going to Casa Loma, and I wanted to look fancy.
Were you sartorially prepared for your first Canadian winter?
Yes – sort of! I bought a pair of good snow boots when we were visiting Toronto last February, so I had those. I still needed a parka, but I got one not long after we moved here before the weather got too cold. My favourite winter accessories, though, are my red-and-white knit maple leaf mittens. I feel more Canadian every time I wear them.
Do you see any connections between your love of architecture and the way in which you choose to dress?
Absolutely! I’ve always loved form and design in general, so I see architecture and fashion as being very complimentary. I love little details, both on buildings and clothes. When people talk about “architectural” clothing, I think they refer to clothing that is very structured and tailored, and I love that sort of thing; I don’t really own anything that could be described as “slouchy”. But I’d love to see more literal architectural detailing on clothes, actually taking ornamental forms from a building and applying the design to a garment. I want to do some of that myself; I love to sew and hope to be making some architecture-inspired clothing in the very near future.
Nikkie To is the kind of girl who steals flowers from a stranger’s garden on late night walks. Her dreamy and fantastical personality not only manifests itself in stealing flowers in the most charming of ways – but also in her clothing and photography. She dresses in a minimal, modern, fairy tale kind of way and her stolen flowers are her most common accessories. Singing, drawing, painting, and photography are all things Nikkie has a talent for. Both of us are proud Hamiltonians and while I moved away for school, she stayed in town and is currently in the fine arts program at McMaster University.
What is your earliest memory of getting dressed?
I can still remember immigrating to Canada and wearing the “I Leaf Canada” sweatshirts. For me, the 1990’s was all about tucking your shirt in and brown corduroy pants. It was never very glamorous on the days I went to school because I was a messy child, but from time to time, I would go full out in buckled shoes, knit stockings, a floral dress and a large bow to top it all off. My older sister also had a big impression on my style while I was growing up. She was the one who pushed me to be daring and to wear lace and sequence and here I am now… pulling off multicoloured feathers in my hair.
Are there any new directions you want to take your style in?
My style often hits a phase and becomes static for a while before changing again. I don’t mean to allude that it is boring in any way, but that if I’m flashy, I’ll be really into it and be flashy for a while. After that I’ll go into a bohemian-naturey phase and play within those confines. When I get bored of that I’ll move on to a playful and professional look. I draw inspiration for fashion through the simple things in my life and I feel my style now turning again toward a more masculine aesthetic because of the work boots that are mandatory for one of my university courses. There are so many wonderful possibilities out there, so why shouldn’t I try them all?
Are you planning on dressing up for Halloween? Why or why not? And if you are what are you planning on dressing up as?
I love Halloween! I think it’s a great way to show your creativity and become someone you would normally be too embarrassed to be. This year I’m going to be Russell from Pixar’s Up because it is hands down my favourite movie of all time. I plan to hand craft all of my Wilderness Explorer badges and hold my Explorer GPS tight in my hands so I’ll never get lost!