Beauties (2)

Cover: Love looks not with the eyesThe big beautiful books just keep on coming and who am I to turn them away? I have a new category (a list can’t be far away) – “Books too big to be taken home”.

Love looks not with the eyes is a collection of over 400 photographs of the work of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Anne Deniau is a French woman who photographed the models backstage at Givenchy, where she met McQueen when he did his first collection there. Their relationship continued for the next 13 years until McQueen’s sad death.

The photographs are very beautiful, but the really interesting thing about them is that they are taken behind the scenes – there are none of the models on the runway and the clothes really star. All the amazing details are here to be examined: the embroidery, the make-up, the hats, the sets. Also seeing how the beautiful genetic freaks that are the models tower over the ordinary mortals who design, make and fit the clothes. And how many of the models smoke.

Cameron Silver has a bachelor’s degree in theatre and after he graduated he began a career as a modern-dayCover: Decades interpreter of Weimar cabaret songs.  While travelling the United States interpreting, he visited second-hand shops, finding some great men’s clothes but lots more women’s. With the soul of a true collector he bought them without quite knowing what he was going to do with them.

Other true collectors also buy things without knowing what they are going to do with them – generally what they do with them is stuff them into already crowded cupboards, telling themselves they will mend, alter, display or in some way use them.  Cameron Silver is made of sterner and richer stuff. He decided to retire from interpreting and open a vintage couture boutique in Beverly Hills, specialising in “only the finest pre-worn clothing”. Not only that, but the clothing had to look modern.

After he’d been buying and selling these clothes for 12 years or so, he decided to write about them. Decades, a look at clothes from the 1900s to the 1990s, is the result. And what a result. The book  combines lovely big photographs from fashion magazines with publicity shots of movie stars, and well-written observations of how fashion changed as society did. It’s really worth a good poring over, but park near the entrance of the library if you plan on taking it home.