This immense and impressive 650-page undertaking is subtitled as a “cutting-edge anthology” featuring more than 300 established and emerging fashion designers from around the world—but this could not be more misleading.
Of the 300 designers featured, there are, by fashion standards, old, dead-ended brands/designers that are kept alive by a string of licensing deals and other designers who have all but faded from any sort of limelight over the past 30 years. Yes, The Sourcebook of Contemporary Fashion Design does include some designers who would be considered emerging; however, the majority of new designers who are still in their infancy as far as recognition and distribution.
There is great entertainment in perusing the hundreds of pages of lush photos and illustrations, making this a collectible coffee table book simply for the visual aspects it covers so eloquently. The visual index of the designers and explanations is impeccable. And the case studies of every type of design project from ready-to-wear T-shirts to couture evening gowns are interesting and informative.
While there can be little criticism for the execution, which is beyond exquisite, there can be a lot said for its content. The cast of characters featured reads like some Hollywood extravaganza that stars Brad Pitt, Chris Pine, Mae West, John Wayne, and Jayne Mansfield—all in one presentation. The compilation is as incongruous to the title as that cast would be to a movie, setting a misleading premise to this epic tome. No fashion authority or historian would call this a definitive accounting of anything due to the imbalanced cast of characters.
The question that begs to be asked here is “Who is the audience for this book?” This reviewer is perplexed by many aspects brought forth in this volume and would have a lot of questions for the author concerning her choices and who she thought would be the readership.