Morgan's Reviews > 100 Unforgettable Dresses
100 Unforgettable Dresses
by Hal Rubenstein
by Hal Rubenstein
This was really interesting--part fashion history, part American history, and part pop-culture, this book was a really fascinating look at the statement dresses make and how dresses are bigger than the model/actress/ingenue/star wearing it, with a few exceptions: Sarah Jessica Parker, Cate Blanchett, Audrey Hepburn, and Grace Kelly are the actresses singled out for their haute couture fashion and style; for the most part, the person wearing the dress is not even mentioned. The major designers are represented--Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, Versace (Gianni and Donatella), Cassini, Chanel, Donna Karan, Diane von Furstenburg, Valentino, Prada, Gucci, Vivienne Westwood, Carolina Herrera, Jason Wu, Oscar de la Renta, Edith Head--and the people wearing the dresses are often well-known--Princess Diana, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jackie Kennedy, Bette Davis, Kate Moss, Linda Evangelista, and Victoria Beckham. But many of the designers have faded into oblivion or were a one-hit wonder. Rubenstein does an excellent job of including the whimsy--Carol Burnett's "Curtain" spoof dress is included--and includes actresses from movies long-forgotten. He also shows--subtly--how fashion, like everything, is cyclical, how the truly classic fashions and icons never go out of style, and how a dress can transcend a person, despite their fame or beauty. Many of the dresses I was familiar with, but I was really interested in the "behind the scenes" look at the dresses--for example, the designer of Carolyn Bessette's wedding dress gave her everything related to the dress--scraps of the fabric, the designs, etc--so no one else would have her dress. Diane von Furstenburg was a recently separated woman (divorcing a prince!) who needed to survive on her own during the ever-changing fashions of the '70s. Diana bought a dress in 1991 and didn't wear it until 1994, as "revenge" on the day Charles announced he had been carrying on an affair with Camilla. Renee Zellweger's white Herrera dress, worn when she won her Oscar for "Cold Mountain," inspired countless wedding dresses. Fascinating look at how fashion--usually dismissed as frivolous or meaningless--has truly impacted the way Americans have dressed, lived, and been influenced.
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