The Costumer's Manifesto: Objects of Desire:
Expensive and/or Hard to find Books we all wish we had (aka "The Costumer's Xmas List")
Janet Arnold, the late, lamented goddess of costume research did this detailed study of every surviving garment, wardrobe record and portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, where she attempted wherever possible to match up the garments and portraits with the detailed wardrobe accounts kept by the government of the day. The only complaint to be found is that few of the pictures are in color. This large format book is considered the apex of detailed, stringent costume research work. An online
by Betty Kirkie and Issey Miyake has a detailed history of this pioneer of bias cutting, along with many patterns, diagrams and photos of Vionnet's best work.
an artist's riff on the history of dress makes this a decadent little pop up book for adults who drool over fine clothing and fine bookmaking.
A yummy book based on a yummy exhibit Yummy exhibition catalog of the LA County Art Museum's most memorable exhibit. Each chapter is an individual essay on a related topic by an expert in the field, from period movement and dance to embroidery to 18th Century textile designs and more, lavishly illustrated in color & B&W.
Set and Costume Designs for Ballet and Theater Alexander Schouvaloff (I've got it! Courtesy of my Mom finding out I was a footnote in it. Shouvaloff used to be the V&A curator of Theatre Prints, then the first curator of the new Theatre Museum in London. This means all his books are filled with prints few folks have had access to until recently, plus an amazing degree of research and scholarship on the artist's involved. ALL his books are OofD's, not just this one.)
, Alexander Schouvaloff.
is a big heavy stack of color photos of details and overviews of great couture garments of the 20th century, with a bit of text and binding to glue it together. The pictures are the thing, and there are lots of them.
Norah Waugh (The pre-Janet Arnold historic pattern goddess, Waugh made triple duty books that included 1/3 patterns from antiques, 1/3 patterns from historic books, and 1/3 writing from contemporary sources on clothing at the time. Despite their expense, these books are really must-haves, especially this one that has the many patterns for men's clothing during the period covered).
Norah Waugh (ditto what I said above, save only that Janet Arnold has superceded this book's preeminence with her own.)
Also by Norah Waugh, with history and patterns.
Valery M. Garrett (Highly illustrated, and high on drool factor)
Lavish gorgeous and amazing. Memorable pieces of Wearable art from the 1970's-1990's. All color large format, just add legs and it is your coffee table...
Lois Sherr Dubin (Hardback version with fold out chart) (The "Bible" on beads in a gleaming, huge color coffee table book version, without anything missing. If you can't possibly afford it, get the shorter
paperback version, but if you can afford it the bead chart alone makes this version the most useful bead book ever produced.)
Jean Hunnisett, Kathryn Turner (Illustrator) Worth every penny of it's hefty price tag, this book is high on scholarship, illustrations, easy to understand text and diagrams, and is one of the best, most detailed how-to manuals for costumers ever written. I had been working as a costumer for almost 20 years when I first saw this book and still, I'd say lots of it's techniques were a revelation. It shows in essence, how to reproduce costumes in this period in such a way as to make them indistinguishable from originals.
Jean Hunnisett, another volume like the above.
Jean Hunnisett, Kathryn Turner (Illustrator), another volume like the above.
R. I. Davis A very similar book to the above, covering Menswear 1600-1800. I've just got my copy and it is a total drool-fest, with patterns, photos and text showing period reality, and film/theatre designs that attempt to interpret that reality.
Same author, same idea...
Photos and text on the costume objects that The Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired during the 1990's.
Yummy detailed photos of museum garments of the 17th and 18th Centuries. One of the less expensive drool objects to be found, it nonetheless is full of color pictures and clear tiny diagrams.
, Jane Ashelford.Photos from collections held by the National Trust (UK), with an interesting narrative showing how these items relate to and illuminate British social history. Another bargain full of great pictures and interesting text.
This tasty paperback has lots of great photos of early museum originals inside, despite it's rather plain, modernist cover.
by Janet Arnold the late, great, goddess of us all. Patterns from museum originals drawn on a 1/8" grid to 1/8 scale, plus line drawings and construction details telling you exactly how the beasts went together. Great scholarship put into a form that has instant application to reproducing costumes for theatre or reenactment in real life.
Like the above, but further off the diving board. Includes men's patterns too, plus photos and essays on the clothes. You know this woman was truly devoted to her research the moment you start reading about the damage to the original costumes caused by the messy fact that most were once grave clothes.
Issey Miyake is the pattern drafting god of our time. In this book a notable modern photographer shows his best examples of his work in their best light.
Designs by one of the most avant-garde theatre and film designers of our time.
Hand drawn pictures show details of women's clothing construction that can't be made clear in photos. Invaluable tool for museum professionals and vintage clothing collectors to "date" garments by details of sewing construction, also useful for people who want to replicate clothes to a high degree of exactitude.
the big fat book with more information and pictures per inch than any other. I blame this one for having got me into costumes in the first place.
Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd: The inventories of the Wardrobe of Robes prepared in July 1600, edited from Stowe MS 557 in the British Library, MS LR 2/121 in the Public Record Office, London, and MS V.b.72 in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington DC
Corsets and Crinolines Corsets and Crinolines