StyleCity (How London Became a Fashion Capital) is a comprehensive look at Britain’s fashion industry from the 1970s to the present. The book looks at how fashion developed in the country at a time when designer fashion did not exist to the current period where London sits alongside Paris, New York and Milan as a global fashion capital. StyleCity looks at the major players on the fashion scene and the influences that have shaped the industry such as music, clubs, parties. The book covers the period from the early 70s with Punk explosion and New Wave with references to Sid Vicious, and the partnership between Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren which led to the launch of their SEX shop in Kings Road. It also covers Zandra Rhodes adaptation of the punk phase in her collection of jersey silk dresses which she sold in her shop in central London. The emergence of designers such as Jasper Conran and Bruce Oldfield are also featured as well. The next chapter covers the 80s phase of The New Romantics with the young Princess Diana at the helm and the birth of London Fashion Week. While the new wave was all about anti establishment the New Romantics strengthened the links between pop music and fashion in Britain. It also touches on the fact that London was full of creativity but lacked the essential commerce aspect that Milan and Paris did.
Which brings me to the section on The Business of Fashion which was in the era where Brit fashion began to stand on its own two feet. This is the time when an astonishing amount of fashion businesses set up. Supported by Margaret Thatcher, designers and buyers were invited to lavish receptions held at Downing Street with everyone basking in their own success. The next chapter, A time of Crisis covers the gloomy recession in which we saw many Brit designers struggle to make ends meet. The 90s was the era of the supermodel but also a time of Cool Britannia and when fashion came back to London Fashion Week. Also a decade which spawned talents such as Alexander McQueen, Hussein Chalayan and Antonio Berradi and when hip magazines such as The Face, i-D and Blitz were launched. Style concludes with The New Millennium which looks at the impact that fashion has had on human causes such as Fashion Rocks and the plans to nurture future designers to make sure that London remains the global capital. StyleCity is a great book for those who are fashion obsessed. It is a bit on the wordy side to be a coffee table book but contains some really good stories about how London became the stylecity that it is. There are also loads of gorgeous photographs and illustrations for you to admire. Style City is given a lot of credibility with quotes from famous British designers as well as influential figures like Lynne Franks, Alexandra Shulman and Wendy Dagworthy. So it is very befitting that Style Cityhas been chosen by the British Fashion Council as book of the year as it celebrates the 25th anniversary.
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