Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015

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TAKEDA, Sharon Sadako, Kaye DURLAND and Clarissa M. ESGUERRA (2016). Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015, Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, DelMonico Books. ISBN 978-3-7913-5520-7, hardback, 273 pp., fully illustrated in b/w and colour, bibliography, index. Price: US$ 55.

Catalogue and accompanying book to an exhibition with the same title held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2016. A beautiful book that it is visually very impressive. The book (and the exhibition) looks at men’s clothing as Art.

The book is divided into five sections that look at (a) Revolution/Evolution, (b) East/West, (c) Uniformity, (d) Body Consciousness and (e) The Splendid Man. These sections are filled with fantastic full length and detailed photographs of the many relevant Western garments that date from the eighteenth century onwards, but with a stress on twentieth century dress, which were on display in the exhibition. At intervals there is detailed information about specific trends and groups. Right at the back of the book there are two essays about the history of men’s clothing that put the garments into context. There are many amazing, beautiful and sometimes just puzzling items of clothing and outfits for men illustrated in the book.

Recommendation: This is not the easiest book to use, not just because of its size and weight (large and heavy), but because of how it is organised. For anyone looking for inspiration for looking at and creating men’s fashion then this book can be highly recommended, however, it is not easy to read. Perhaps I am old fashioned but I would like first the background information and then to be thrown into the mass of imagery with some written details, rather than the other way around.

Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood

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