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Why 'Fashion Design, Referenced' Isn't Just for Fashion Majors

Photo by Lisa Kessler, courtesy of Alicia Kennedy
Photo by Lisa Kessler, courtesy of Alicia Kennedy

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The term "sexy reference book" sums up Fashion Design, Referenced well. Given by its author, Alicia Kennedy, the phrase evokes the combination of attractive and academic—a fashion title suited for students and enthusiasts alike. Kennedy, a professor of twentieth century fashion history at Lasell College, compiled a team of sartorially-driven brains to produce the text: Emily Banis Stoehrer, fashion program director of Fisher College and a former curatorial research associate at the MFA, as well as Jay Calderin of the School of Fashion Design and Boston Fashion Week. What ensued are 416 pages, filled with over 1000 photos and illustrations, wholly outlining the business in an entertaining and easy to digest manner. You'll no longer sit clueless about the difference between crochet and macramé when reading next season's show reviews.

Split into four sections, the book seamlessly moves through historical timelines referencing how clothing is intertwined with cultural and social movements, into the tradition of fashion seasons and specialty systems (including a deep look at haute couture)—then moving into the structure and logistics of the industry as well as the production and design of a garment. Next topic of discussion is what happens to disseminate the work: fashion shows, marketing, branding, retail. Finally, Kennedy and her helpers build case studies of game-changing designers and their influences, such as Issey Miyake, Rick Owens, and more obvious talents like Alber Elbaz and Nicolas Ghesquière.

While Fashion Designed, Referenced is an incredible resource for all fashion students, it should also be required reading for anyone setting foot in the industry—all of whom are guaranteed to continue referencing it throughout their careers. If you're even debating what positions to pursue within the industry at all stages of production and promotion, consider the book your roadmap as it has a full breakdown of roles within the business.

Meanwhile, aesthetically driven lovers of history and sociology will be thrilled to see a framework that supports the study of clothing relative to culture. A chapter on fashion centers—New York, Milan, Paris, London—and top international universities proves useful for high schoolers seeking an opportunity to put down that trig book and pick up a sewing machine.

All in all, this is a book (albeit, a fancy textbook) which is equally at home on a coffee table or a classroom syllabus. Amazon carries the Rockport-publish read for under $40, but the lessons learned are invaluable.
· Fashion Design, Referenced [Amazon]

Disclosure: Racked Boston was gifted a copy of Fashion Design, Referenced to review.