In this completely unique and innovative book, Kristin Knox (author of MCQUEEN: Genius of a Generation) traces the roots of today’s ready-to-wear fashion designers to “traditional costume” clothing styles from more than 60 cultures around the world and explores how local or “street” fashions are coming back once again and influencing catwalks in fashion capitals from New York to Paris.
“Traditional” refers to any clothing worn locally around the world before the rise of commercially produced clothing and includes the Japanese kimono, the Burqa, Imperial Chinese robes, and Turkish harem pants―all inspirations for top Western designers such as Coco Chanel, Christian Dior and, of course, Diane Von Furstenberg’s classic 1972 wrap dress which many trace back as inspired by the kimono. The book explores the trajectory of fashion design, born as an industry around the same time that Orientalism swept Europe and colonies were established in Africa and India. Fashion incorporated these new exotic themes into its creativity and became inextricably mixed with ethnic and cultural sartorial traditions.
The book’s narrative also comes full circle, going from local to global and back to local again to see what’s happening today in fashion in these countries. As the internet moves the fashion industry to be much more global in approach it also enables designers to be more conscious of what local populations are wearing in the streets, particularly young, trendy designers such as Alexander Wang.
CULTURE TO CATWALK is the first book to explore the cyclical and global nature of fashion’s roots and future on the runway and includes interviews and quotes from leading designers such as Amanda Wakeley and Donna Karan and representatives from bestselling brands such as Aquascutum and Jaeger.
Knox’s book traces cross-cultural references from western designers around the world. From Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress as linked to traditional kimonos to Comme des Garcon taking inspiration from African textiles, reading Culture to Catwalk is one of the best possible ways to brush up on your contemporary fashion history