Review by Choice Review
An intriguing and provocative study that explains fashion as a multifaceted phenomenon intricately active within the broad framework of social history. Wilson (Polytechnic of North London), author of Women & Welfare State (London, 1977), Only Halfway to Paradise (1980), and Mirror Writing (London, 1982) here discusses several theories of fashion. She rightfully challenges as inadequate the usual feminist explanation of fashion as economic exploitation, and points to unresolved tensions derived from conflicting feminist interpretations of culture. Consistently, Wilson stresses the ambivalence of fashion: "when we dress we wear inscribed upon our bodies the often obscure relationship of art, personal psychology and the social order." She includes the usual association of fashion to eroticism, mass production, and gender, but adds several new "modern" dimensions: fashion as related to city life and popular culture, oppositional dress or deviant forms, and utopian notions of dress. This important work borders on becoming a philosophy of fashion. Literary and historical references fill 19 pages of footnotes. There are both a 10-page bibliography and a 14-page index. Although the 41 black-and-white photographs provide excellent visual complements, a photographic index is needed. All libraries. B. B. Chico Mizel Museum of Judaica
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.