Fashion Criticism: An Anthology

Bloomsbury Visual Arts. Feb. 2021. 240p. ed. by Francesca Granata. ISBN 9781350058811. $100; pap. ISBN 9781350058804. $32.95. DEC ARTS
In her introduction to this volume, Granata (fashion studies, Parsons Sch. of Design) acknowledges that this anthology could have taken other directions. It largely draws from the English-speaking fashion press from the late 19th to the 21st centuries, with an emphasis on the present; she reasons that reaching further back into historical sources often finds fashion disparaged as too frivolous or commercial to be art, or too feminine to be important. Granata positions this weighty anthology as an introduction to serious fashion criticism—though much of the writing is gloriously entertaining. Its three sections—late 19th century to 1960s, 1970s–90s, and 21st century—reflect major shifts in fashion writing. Authors featured include Hilton Als, Bebe Moore Campbell, Vanessa Friedman, Robin Givhan, Elizabeth Hawes, Lois Long, Susan Sontag, Oscar Wilde, and Lynn Yaeger. There are no illustrations; this volume assumes readers’ familiarity with the fashion and photography being discussed.
VERDICT Reprints of lesser-known essays (Campbell’s “What Happened to the Afro?”), plus essays that use a variety of approaches, from glamorous description (Long’s “Feminine Fashions”), to social theory (Sontag’s “Looking with Avedon”), make this a solid primer on cultural criticism and fashion journalism.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing