North & South - - Review - JOANNA WANE

Jane Rocca ( Smith Street Books, $ 35)

One day, it’s pos­si­ble the most en­dur­ing mem­ory of John F. Kennedy will be the pink pill­box hat Jackie was wear­ing on the day the US pres­i­dent was as­sas­si­nated, and her match­ing Chanel suit.

Whether cut­ting its cloth as so­cial com­men­tary (Lady Gaga, Madonna), gen­der pol­i­tics ( power suits, the scan­dalous 1920s flap­per), pop cul­ture (mini skirts, Car­rie Brad­shaw’s Ver­sace dress), or art (Ri­hanna’s stun­ning im­pe­ri­alyel­low Met Gala gown, which took more than 20 months to make by hand), fash­ion man­ages, para­dox­i­cally, to be both at the fore­front of change, yet a prod­uct of its time.

Of course, it’s the high art of com­merce, too. Kylie Minogue picked up her gold hot­pants in a Lon­don mar­ket for 50p, but the red leather jacket Michael Jack­son wore in his 1983 “Thriller” clip sold at auc­tion a few years ago for US$1.8 mil­lion.

Ground­break­ing Fash­ion (on sale in hard­back on April 1) is a sat­is­fy­ing snack of a book, with short, snappy text that’s not too rev­er­en­tial. And in­stead of air­brushed model shots, each “iconic mo­ment” is ren­dered by Melbourne il­lus­tra­tor Juliet Sule­ji­mani with a fresh, stylised charm. Time for my puff­ball skirt to come out of hid­ing.

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