Fabric: The Hidden History of the Material World

Pegasus. Nov. 2022. 528p. ISBN 9781639363902. pap. $19.95. DEC ARTS
Continuing in the tradition of her previous works, Finlay (Color: A Natural History of the Palette; Jewels: A Secret History; The Brilliant History of Color in Art) uses her travels to explore the extraordinarily rich and varied history of textiles across the world. Divided into 11 chapters covering everything from barkcloth in the South Pacific to cotton, wool, pashmina, and more, the book interweaves the rich, detailed history of each type of cloth with stories from the author’s investigative travels to the countries and communities that produce these fabrics. Written during a period in Finlay’s life when she experienced significant personal loss, the chapters often focus more on her lived experiences and her own explorations than the in-depth history some readers may be looking for. However, these elements, which help the book read like a travel narrative or memoir as opposed to a more straightforward reference volume, also make the book accessible to a wider variety of readers and researchers. Illustrations, photographs, maps, and extensive notes complete the volume.
VERDICT A solid addition for any library with a particularly robust fashion or textiles collection.
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