Archive | January, 2011

Superfreakonomics – Illustrated Edition by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

19 Jan

Take the facts and figures from the desk of an esteemed mathematician and mix them with the zany ponderings of a philosopher and you will have created a concoction of Superfreakonomics.

Superfreakonomics, as debated by Levitt – winner of the John Bates Clark medal, a prize for the most influential economist under the age of forty – and Dubner – a former writer and editor at The New York Times Magazine – are fascinating true stories that are told to remind the reader that the world is a peculiar and extraordinary place. Their original Freakonomics sold over four million copies worldwide in 2005, and has now been revived with images and diagrams to give an extra dimension to the tales at hand. The original book features topics such as ‘assassinating mosquitoes’ and ‘a variety of ways to postpone death’ and is now presented with added pictures, photographs and panels of data because “sometimes numbers and words aren’t enough”.

My favourite chapter was one entitled ‘How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa?’ Exploring, initially, some outrageous statistics that surround the profession of prostitution, the chapter goes on to explore the ever prevalent sexism that exists in the world – for example through the inclusion of a graph that clearly shows male earnings to exceed female earnings in a number of professions – and looks to history to try and explain these inconsistencies. It featured the 10 “rules to live by” of a 1920s Anti-Flirt Group, created by women who were disturbed by the “growing forthrightness of males” and included regulations such as:

Don’t wink: a flutter of one eye may cause a tear in the other.

Don’t accept rides from flirting motorists: they don’t invite you in to save you a walk.

All in all Superfreakonomics uses hard hitting statistics and data to solidify some of the most bizarre elements of human life, thus baffling the reader and reminding them of what a crazy place the world really is. This eccentrically written masterpiece will be sure to give you something unusual to talk about at your next dinner party and is filled with fascinating trivia.

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Superfreakonomics is published by Allen Lane, an imprint of Penguin Books, and will encourage you to ponder all of life’s little issues for £20.00.

Street Art Contemporary Prints by Riikka Kuittinen

17 Jan

Perception is one of the most fascinating notions, particularly when related to art. Differences in perception can lead to so many varying interpretations of a piece of art. Riikka draws upon this sentiment at the beginning of Street Art and reminds us to consider that the very phenomenon that we are reading about was once perceived by some as nothing more than graffiti. For this reason, Riikka leaves personal interpretations to a minimum and instead chooses to allow the prints themselves to speak to each individual reader accordingly.

Compiled using street art prints that have been collected by the Victoria and Albert Museum, the book is mainly a visual guide to street art highlights from all over the world. Prints are celebrated as an “affordable and democratic medium” and the ability to spread such art on a large scale is a point of discussion, “it is no coincidence that the escalators of the London Underground are a popular site for street-art stickers”. Artists such as Banksy, Sweet Toof and Evoker provide examples of art forms from screen prints to stickers and therefore take art from places such as the back of a skateboard to a theatre installation. The collection is punctuated with small explanatory sections and divided in accordance with topics of focus. Rather than giving extended detail on artists in particular, areas such as ‘Politics and Propaganda’ are presented with examples of established artists. The words in the book are not perhaps as important as the visuals and it seems that to engage with the art is the main task at hand when reading. Street Art itself is covered with a paper print of ‘Time Waits for No Man’ by Kerry Roper for the reader to enjoy at their own leisure.

My favourite piece was ‘CMYK’ by Blu.

Concluded with a small paragraph about each featured artist and details of websites to look to for more street art inspiration, this book would be a lovely addition either to an art fanatic’s book shelf or those who are looking to begin their street art education.

A la Mode Appraisal: 7/10

Street Art Contemporary Prints is published by V&A Publishing and will amuse and bemuse you for £14.99.

If you liked this you may also like 1000 Ideas for Graffiti and Street Art by Christian Campos.

What On Earth Are You Wearing? A Michipedia of Fashion by Michi Girl

16 Jan

“If you haven’t heard of Michi Girl, don’t worry, she hasn’t heard of you either.”

Welcome to the world of Michi Girl, a fictional weather girl created by Chloe Quigley and Daniel Pollock and “brought to life” by the illustrations of Kat Macleod. In a follow up to her first book, Like I Give A Frock, Michi Girl has released a Michipedia of Fashion that alphabetises common industry terms and gives playful explanations for them.

Before I began reading the book I was completely taken by its beautiful artwork. Both Michi Girl and the pages that she graces have been sketched and painted in many lovely configurations that have been accentuated further with different fabrics, prints and textures.  Once I had absorbed the prettiness of the book I embarked upon indulging in what I thought would be an idiots guide to fashion and, oh, how wrong I was! Michi Girl’s Michipedia is in fact a satirical guide to fashion for its knowing insiders. She combines quirky explanations for simple fashion terms and a few well crafted in jokes to amuse and inform her reader. Some examples:

Chicken Fillets: the breast friends of an A-cup.

Chanel: Old money.

Lycra: No.

Wig: In the words of a two-year-old I know, ‘a hair hat’.

In addition to acting as a fashion informant, Michi Girl also acts as a tongue-in-cheek agony aunt in little question and answer segments that punctuate the Michipedia. When she receives a letter from someone who was upset to have purchased a fake Chanel handbag her response began like this:

“Born in the early 70s to humble factory workers Louis Veeton and Donna Kebab, Cocoa Channel quickly made a name for herself in the fast fashion industry sewing upside-down crocodiles on polo shirts at her uncle’s Lacrock factory.”

Whether you’re a sucker for sweet, artsy creations or someone who knows their Dior from their Dolce and is looking for a giggle, this Michipedia is the perfect way to celebrate fashion whilst poking some fun at it at the same time. I guarantee you’ll end up being transfixed by the Michi Girl website too!

www.michigirl.com

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

What On Earth Are You Wearing? Is published by Apple Press and will brighten up your bookshelf (and your mood) for £12.99.

If you liked this you may also like Bethanie Lunn’s The Modern Girls Guide to Fabulousness.

Fashion Drawing in Vogue by William Packer

11 Jan

Unveiling the intricate art work behind the gowns and garments that have tantalised readers of Vogue magazine worldwide for years, Fashion Drawing in Vogue gives fashion enthusiasts a rare glimpse into the artistic craftsmanship behind some of the most elegant designs of the century. Focusing predominantly on Vogue from 1909, the year in which it was taken over by Condé Nast, William Packer explores the sketches behind the clothing and how other art movements managed to influence fashion respectively. Packer presents highlights of sketches from seven decades (1920s-80s) of Vogue.

My favourite chapter was one entitled ‘1935 – 1946: Romantic Expressionism and applied Surrealism, Vogue’s eye on society in peace and war’. It begins by giving context to what was happening in the world at this time, speaking of the Great Depression in America and mass unemployment in England for instance. It is stated that “there is a war on, but London life somehow continues, perhaps even more sociable and high-spirited than ever”. Endless sketches of beautiful women give a visual to the usual standards of classic beauty; high cheek bones, small pouted lips and fluttering eye lashes are in abundance. Links between the war and fashion are also established; for example, were you aware that Michael de Brunhoff, editor of French Vogue during the second world war, closed down the publication in the summer of 1940 and did not resume it until the Liberation? I often feel that the fashion industry is overlooked as something superficial and intimidating. Books like this prove fabulously that fashion is merely an extension of society and situations and in appreciating it you can perhaps gain a further understanding of the world around you. (Failing that, you can feel fabulous and brighten it up a little bit!)

The presentation of this book is as sophisticated and chic as Vogue itself. Broken into sections of pink, white and glossy pages, it is easy to decipher different sections and quickly skim to the silky photographs that accompany them. Although we are often told not to judge a book by its cover, it seems unfair not to note that the appearance of this one is delicate and pretty, much like the sketches inside it.

Perfect for art history students, this collection of coveted names (the likes of Edouard Benito, Paul Iribe and Douglas Pollard among them) and ravishing designers amounts to a collection that is as exquisite as it is informative. A classy and indulgent book perfect for all fashion and art lovers.

A la Mode Appraisal: 9/10

Fashion Drawing in Vogue is published by Thames & Hudson and will enlighten you about the process from pencil to Prada for £19.95.

Drinkology, the Art and Science of the Cocktail by James Waller

11 Jan

In the name of animating the words from this book in an unbearably exquisite manner, I have chosen to feature some photographs of Piaget’s Limelight jewellery collection. The range includes a series of precious-stone rings that have been inspired by some of the most famous contemporary cocktails.

www.piaget.com

Picture the scenario if you will.

Your toes have surpassed the stinging sensations and are now comfortably numb in the oh-so-dainty looking heels you purchased with your grocery money. An already delicate waist is being cinched to distraction by an impossibly beautiful belt, creating an alluring hourglass silhouette at the expense of your ribs and, indeed, your breathing.  Those false eyelashes you spent so long in the mirror perfecting lay heavily on your eyelids, causing every blink to require the utmost strength and composure. But, naturally, you couldn’t care less. You’re at the bar, with one set of crimson polished finger nails clutching an exquisitely frosted glass, and elegantly sipping the most luxuriously blended cocktail you have ever had the pleasure of consuming.

This is the scenario of the girl about town who’s bartender has had the intelligence to familiarise himself with Drinkology.

A recipe book with a twist, Drinkology combines the art of creating a perfect cocktail with the fascinating details of how the cocktail came to fame in the first place. Divided into easy to read sections based on the key ingredients that you could use, the book manages to give context and insight to some of the most popular and established drinks that you could think of. Not just catering to the classics, the lovely thing about this book is that it explores cocktails that you could never even imagine had existed, and even acknowledges this sometimes and assures you to trust the unknown.

Here were some of the cocktails that sounded the most exciting to me:

Beer

  • Broadway: Combining lager and coca-cola for a cocktail that is “very popular in Japan”.
 
Brandy
  • Cherry Blossom: “Color is decidedly unlike that of a blooming cherry tree” but very “nicely balanced” and “not too sweet”.
  • American Beauty: A fruity concoction, “the shockingly pink colour resembles nothing found in nature”.

Champagne and Sparkling Wine

  • Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie: A Drinkology original, the “herbal quality of the rhubarb bitters tartly contends with the strawberry liqueur’s sweetness”.

Gin

  • Beauty Spot: A pale concoction, this is described as “a pageant winner”.
  • English Rose: Just like it’s floral companion, the English Rose is “pink and ladylike”.
  • Snowball: A licorice flavoured cocktail, this is creamy and has a “vaguely disturbing greenish tinge”.
 
Liqueurs
  • Banshee: I used to love the legend of the Banshee when I was younger so this creamy cocktail caught my eye.
  • Dreamsicle: A creamy and fruity number, this drink is described as “smashing”.
  • Pink Squirrel: Admittedly I’m not too keen on the recipe for this one, the name was just too good to pass by!

Rum

  • Caribbean Millionaire: Absolutely loaded with rich, fruity blends, and “garishly overproduced” in a good way.
  • Gorilla Tit: A powerful blend of three dark, strong flavours, and “cola-coloured”.
  • Scorpion: A lovely mix that will “sting if you’re not careful”; sounds identical to me, a fellow Scorpio…

 

Sake
  • Asian Pear: Does what it says on the tin and tastes “astonishingly like a tree-ripened fresh pear”.
 
Tequila
  • The most hysterically named of all of the cocktails in the book, I thought it would be poignant (as a literature lover) to finish with this- the Tequila Mockingbird. A lime infused drink, the author himself notes that he would “love to make the acquaintance of the master punster who gave this unusual drink it’s name”.

Having contradicted my expectations that this would merely be a recipe book for the cabinet, I was pleased and excited to find lots of additional information in regard to bar tending and how to maintain your own miniature bar among the blend bible. Catering, too, for those who may be new to experimenting with alcohol, the book gives basic guides to things such as when to use what glass and also what phrases such as “on the rocks” really mean (with ice in that case). If you enjoy taking the time to enjoy the aromatic and sensuous side of drinking alcohol then this book is definitely for you. A la Mode Appraisal: 8/10 

Drinkology is published by Stewart Tabori & Chang and and is available now at all good book stores for £15.99.

www.drinkaware.com

The World According to Vice by Vice

11 Jan

Vice magazine, one of the most outlandish and outspoken magazines around, have decided that their cheeky approach to life is something that is worth capitalising on. They’ve compiled a remarkable scrapbook that has been critically acclaimed by the likes of Dame Vivienne Westwood and are set to enlighten people all over about the Vice way of life. In a collection that is as scandalous as it is irresistible, Vice explore some of their most remarkable features to date and does so in a way that transpires to create a kooky guide to all of life’s little hiccups.

To give you a little insight as to the kind of things they’re addressing, here are some of my favourite pieces:

The Vice Guide to University by Andy Capper, March 2010

 Anyone can enjoy something thoroughly without necessarily being in stitches, but this had me laughing out loud. As controversial as it is accurate, this is a guide to exactly what happens at University and will be appreciated by any past, present or future students. It pokes fun of the filthy states that students let their bedrooms get into, the pompous know-it-alls that stroll around campus with a broadsheet newspaper and patronise you for indulging in a little Paris Hilton perfume, the politics behind people stealing food in halls and the product placement that consumes Freshers Week.

New Frontiers of Sobriety by Hamilton Morris, August 2009

This detailed one man’s findings as he challenged Newton’s third law of motion that every action has an equal and opposite reaction in relation to drugs. A usual drug user, he found equal and opposite drugs that he called the anti-weed, anti-LSD and anti-heroin and took them to see how it felt to experience the exact opposite sensations. His account is comical but nevertheless harrowing, and is told with brutal honesty.

Interrogations: a Woman Who Made a Documentary About Vaginoplasty, October 2008

Vice’s Andy Capper interviewed Heather Leach, a filmmaker who created a documentary about women who have had a vaginoplasty (surgery on their privates). She gives readers an insight into wh girls as young as 16 are feeling pressured to undergo this procedure and how frighteningly popular it is becoming.

Not for the feint hearted or for those who view the world through rose coloured glasses, this book is the perfect thing to make you spit out your tea or choke on your French Fancy. For the truth about every possible scandal I would highly recommend tucking into this book. Told with flair and comedy even when approaching sensitive content, it is the perfect way to enlighten  yourself on everything naughty that you could possibly imagine. It will make you blush… and you’ll love it. Get this for a prudish socialite or a scraggy lad about town and either way you’ll receive rave reviews.

A la Mode Appraisal: 8/10

The World According to Vice is published by Canongate and is all yours for just £20.00.

P.S Did you know that Vice magazine are always looking for people to join their team? They seek to recruit interns, photographers, student ambassadors… the list goes on! Click here to have a look at their job page.

The Modern Girl’s Guide to Fabulousness by Bethanie Lunn

11 Jan

Bethanie Lunn is a power woman that every girl would love to be like. She’s a one woman enterprise and merrily juggles a number of fabulous fashionable responsibilities including the following: a widely read blog called The Modern Girl’s Guide, acting as fashion and beauty expert for Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, being a style expert and online presenter for Very online, and contributing columns to stylebible.com to name just a few. Now, the beauty has wracked her brains to compile an alternative A-Z for the modern girl, giving her the “fast track to the coolest places, services and products around” (quote taken from Bethanie’s blog).

The Guide begins with an introduction that outlines the aim of the book- to pin point the most fabulous things all over the country and enlighten women accordingly. Upon reading this, it has to be said that I felt sceptical. I have read lots of similar books in the past (no names mentioned) that claim to be excited to share highlights of the best regional attractions and then go on to gush incessantly about one city in particular; you’ve guessed it- London. Yes, a mesmerising city it may be, but when I’m in Liverpool and desperately need a manicure I’m hardly going to invest all of that time, money and effort and go all the way to the south for a decent set of nails. (Indeed, I would probably just pop to the nearest Barry M counter instead, but for the sake of this argument that is beside the point). What was refreshing and very engaging, therefore, was Bethanie’s very true representation of the entire country. Surrounded by angry, soaking wet passengers on the train, I couldn’t help but gasp for joy every time I read a reference to somewhere I had been to, knew of and already loved. Knowing that I completely agreed with Bethanie in the recommendations with which I was already acquainted lead me to believe that, if I were to visit another city, I could completely trust her judgement and take all other suggestions by storm and with confidence.

Favourite Birmingham hotspot:
Club Chocolate, home to amazing cocktails.
Club Chocolate on Facebook

Favourite Liverpool hotspot:
Raider’s Vintage, a small boutique that has been known to grace the pages of UK Vogue.
Raiders Vintage on Facebook

Nationwide must have:
Batiste dry shampoo (or for any fellow students that may be reading, a nice hearty dose of talcum powder!)
www.batistehair.co.uk/

Number one website:
A personal favourite of mine, Elsiebelle jewellery- the most quirky and cute retailer of them all.
www.elsiebelle.com

The magic of this girlie guide is that every type of woman needs to have it in her life; the housewife who loves nothing more than to present an exquisite meal for her friends and family and to lay an extravagent dining set, the tearaway who loves to push her limits and wants to fill her Saturday with a spot of risque burlesque, or even the PR executive who loves her fluffy canine friend to death but simply doesn’t have enough time to walk him. Bethanie manages to overcome all of life’s dilemmas and to do so in a way that girls all over can manage in our current economic crisis but still feel fabulous! A thoroughly enjoyable read, and a must have for any students who are planning a girlie getaway to visit one of their friends in another city.

To visit Bethanie on her book tour, why not pop along to her Liverpool signing on Wednesday 1st December at LK Bennett in Liverpool One? All you have to do to book your place is call the LK Bennett hotline on 02076376729. If this date is inconvenient then please click here to check her other confirmed appearances. I am very excited to tell you that I will be interviewing her on the day, so be sure to subscribe to my blog so that you don’t miss any of her anecdotes!

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

Publisher: Book Guild Limited
Price: £9.99

www.bethanielunn.com

Circus: The Bloggers’ Bookazine #1 Fashion by Herznote

11 Jan

Welcome to the eccentric world of the Herznote publishers. A kooky, creative and devilishly stylish team, these are the characters behind Circus, a new fashion bookazine celebrating the best of the fashion industry through the eyes of an international team of bloggers.

                “A bookazine?” was the reaction I met upon gushing to my friend that I had recieved this coveted new publication from Darmstadt in Germany. “What is a bookazine?” I answered in the words of the Herznote team themselves: “Unlike magazines, which appear at short intervals in the same old journalistic corset: bookazines are monothematic, each time new and timeless. Bookazines combine the best of both worlds with the design spirit of magazines and the substance of “real” books”.

                Featuring an impressive prologue from Agyness Deyn and Fiona Byrne, founders of online fashion magazine NAAG.com (Fiona & Agyness) discuss the topic of the internet and how its evolution has changed the fashion industry. This is a key theme throughout this book of online treasures.

                Every kind of fashion issue that you could think of is addressed through Circus, meaning that opinions and perspectives are varied. This helps every reader not only to find something that they personally relate to or enjoy, but also helps to capture the subjective nature of fashion impeccably. From the exploration of child beauty pageant queens in USA to the topic of Style and Spirituality, between discussing the oh-so-controversial size zero debate to finding a place for disabled people in an industry that thrives on perfection, or pleasantly tackling the topic of moles, no stone is left unturned in this chic and peculiar collection. Another delightful component is that being a German publication, you can read each article in either German or English. (The best holiday I ever had was a week in Berlin, and so I’ve been thinking that I could use the bookazine to teach myself German and hopefully visit again a little more familiar with the language!) I spoke to the team themselves to hear their thoughts on their exciting new publication and what it meant to them…

Meet the team:
Rebecca Sandbichler, Editor in Chief

Inga Schörmann, Deputy Editor in Chief

Florian Siebeck, Photo Director

Josef Mayerhofer, Managing Director

Eva Anhäuser, Art Direction

Anke Schuhardt, Advertising and Marketing Director

Tessa Arsovska, Editor

ME: In an age where technology is thriving as a means of communication, debates are rife in regard to whether this is a positive or negative development. What’s your view on the matter?
ANKE: Oh, that’s no easy decision. Every development has a positive and a negative side. A project like our bookazine would have never been possible without the new ways of communication. It is so easy to get in touch with people from all over the world, talk to them by e-mail or to call a blogger in Greece or China by Skype. We love the endless possibilities of the internet, but we still love print as well. That’s why we wanted to combine the best of both worlds instead of choosing one.

How do you feel that being based in Darmstadt impacts on your creative vision? On the Herznote website you mention that in Darmstadt ‘hardly anything flourishes nor is deliberated’. Do you think this drives you to put more passion into your pursuit of all things artistic?
JOSEF: The great thing about the internet is that it doesn’t matter where you are. When we developed the idea for Circus only Inga, Eva and I were in Darmstadt. Anke was in Dublin, Florian was in Beijing and Rebecca was in Vienna. So we don’t see Circus as a project from Darmstadt, it’s a project from wherever you want. After all, it was not Darmstadt that caused us to put more passion into our pursuit, but rather the international atmosphere of our office and the knowledge that there are people out there passionately working for us although we have never met in the real world.

The idea of making ‘Heart Notes’ is among many unbearably unique selling points to the Herznote brand! How do you concoct your unusual ideas?
INGA: I actually don’t really know – it just happens. Probably it is just the atmosphere in the Herznote office as there are so many creative brains meeting. Most of the time we are just talking nonsense and in the end something new ingenious develops as for example The Blog Slam.

I love the graphics on the ‘Team’ section of your website. Do you think it is important to emphasise the Herznote team as individuals as well as a collective force?
TESSA: We are all different people, different individuals. Our diverse personalities are projected onto the bookazine and contribute to a special touch that a team of people who are more alike could not fabricate. However, we work together to make something colourful, new and unique. Having said that, I think it’s important to portray everyone’s unique quality and their personal signature and contribution to the team. To conclude, it’s important to portray the team as a whole, consisting of individuals with unusual, interesting traits that make the team just a little bit better and more diverse.

The Herznote website warmly welcomes contributors. What are you looking for in an idyllic Circus contributor?
REBECCA: We look for people who are talented in their field and passionate about what they are doing – be it writing, photography, illustration or whatever creative way they have to express themselves. In addition, we care a great deal for a professional attitude towards work. That is to say we love it when someone keeps his promises and completes his work within a given deadline. And as Circus is a bloggers’ bookazine we like our contributors to have a blog or some other kind of workspace on the internet.

When compiling Circus, where and how did you find inspiration for your collection?
EVA: Daily life, the world wide web, our office … we find inspiration everywhere. For Circus we had so many ideas that we could not have ever stopped looking for new inspirational blogs and bloggers if we had not set ourselves a deadline at some point. When we had sketched the first ideas for texts, taken the first photos and developed a rough idea about the page amount, we started compiling Circus. Therefore, we printed out dummy pages in a mini format, took needles and started on our big blackboard. The first version of the content plan took us two days.

What is your personal favourite of the pieces in Circus, and why?
JOSEF: I would go with the wool man, but I don’t, because everybody loves the wool man. So I choose the maps. I love beautiful infographics and I know how much work those little fuckers were.
REBECCA: My favourite photo editorial probably is the one by Saga Sig. She and her stylist chose designers from Iceland and the whole thing is just so dramatic in this rough but beautiful surroundings.
ANKE: It’s so hard to decide! But photo-wise I would choose the Showgirls editorial by Burke Heffner. He is one of my most loved burlesque photographers from the United States and I’m so happy that he’s part of CIRCUS.
INGA: I really do not want decide. I just do, because you want me to. My favourite piece is Raphaela Anouk’s poem – I always get goose bumps when reading it.
EVA: I’m the biggest fan of the illustrator duo Ingela Och VI from Sweden. They did the artwork of the story “The F-Word” about the intimate relation between food and fashion. I’m so proud they became Circus artists.

In the future, what sort of Bookazine would you love to create?
JOSEF: Next year we’re doing Gadgets which is pretty much the best thing that could have happened to me. But I also look forward to the Internet issue.
REBECCA: I would like to have a greater variety of cultural backgrounds in the bookazine. I hope we will have even more exotic languages in there next time.
ANKE: I would love to have a topic like music or food in the future. And apart from that I agree with Rebecca; a greater variety of cultural backgrounds and languages would be awesome!
INGA: I want an issue about sex one day, but I really think that pretty much any topic could be interesting!
EVA: I would love to do an issue about food, an issue about animals, an issue about sweets and we could do an issue about clowns … whatever – I hope we get the chance to do many more!

A la Mode Appraisal: 10/10

For an insight into international fashion and sophisticated, in-depth industry debates, you need to join the Circus. Published by Herznote, Circus is available for purchase at a very reasonable price of £12. Click here to buy from the Herznote online shop or to be redirected to Amazon.

Why Girls Love Shoes by Georgina Harris

11 Jan

If you’re looking for the perfect stocking filler for a fellow fashionista then look no further than Why Girls Love Shoes. A small and simple treat, this book is one that is filled with illustrations of all manner of fabulous shoes and captures the no-frills jist of why girls turn to foot candy in times of need.

Upon turning over the front cover, you are greeted with a little to/from gift tag, further supporting the idea that this novelty is intended as a small present. Divided into pensive chapters, shoes are defined by status as opposed to physicality and thus the philosophy behind them is pondered humorously. For example, on the page dedicated to ‘Extra High Heels’, the author asks:

“Are these a pair of shoes or an attitude?”

The idea of shoes contributing to your character was quite amusing to me; I think we can all relate to feeling like Britney Spears in those sky scraper heels and someone from the Rovers Return in our work pumps. However, I must say that I was a little bit disappointed at how vague the book was. Sam Wilson, an illustrator that has previously been commissioned to create for the likes of Tatler and Elle Girl and who illustrates Mimi Spencer’s Fashion for Life column in You magazine every week (a supplement of the Mail on Sunday) provided the illustrations which were very cute. Georgina Harris, famed for having written for The Times and The Daily Telegraph, added her fashion expertise. But together they formed only a tiny tribute to a topic that seemed so exciting to them both. Although inclusive of some lovely snippets of information, such as the title quote above, I think that this book would be best enjoyed as a sweet addition to a large stocking of other bits and pieces.

Ideal for your little sister or for any lady who truly loves her shoes.

Perhaps you could team it with a cute little Victorian Fan Bookmark from Past Times to jazz it up a little? Available in a number of other designs and for only £6, it will surely brighten up your special person’s stocking.

A la Mode Appraisal: 5/10

Why Girls Love Shoes is available from Cico Books and is all yours for £6.99.

Vintage Jewellery by Caroline Cox

11 Jan

Following the success of books such as Vintage Shoes, Lingerie: a Lexicon of Style and Stiletto, Caroline Cox has returned with Vintage Jewellery, a book that explores jewellery from times gone by and how it has related to beauty and culture accordingly.

Caroline is a visiting professor at the London College of Fashion and also works as a cultural trends advisor at Vidal Sassoon. She uses her fashion expertise in Vintage Jewellery to give context and life to the wonderful photographs and illustrations in the book.

Discussing over 100 years of history, this book divides periods of time into decades and explores each 10 year period in terms of how jewellery looked and was celebrated. Here are a few of the highlights:

1940s: F for Fake
Featuring ‘Cocktail Hour’, a piece that divulges all about the all American fashions that prevailed in jewellery, saying of pieces that the general rule was “the more exuberant, the better”.

1950s: Mid-Century Sparkle
Featuring ‘French Figurative Jewellery’, spilling all of the secrets about how coveted French accessories were and those that looked even remotely French; Eiffel Tower pieces abounded by all accounts.

1960s: POP Goes the Future
Featuring ‘Hippie-Chic’, a section that talks about the significance of the Vietnam War and how jewellery was often used as a statement to represent free love.

More than just a photo album or collection of eye candy, this is a book that reminds you not to judge things at face value. Although celebrating the aesthetic qualities of jewellery (and including photographs of the likes of Twiggy and Cher to flaunt them with flair) it gives historical context as to how and why design has evolved in such ways. As well as providing elaborate and varied information about each period, chapters also conclude with a ‘Key looks of the decade’ page to summarise in a few simple words what each jewellery revolution entailed.

All in all, this book would be wonderful for ladies of all ages. From jewellery lovers to design admirers; older ladies wanting to reminisce about the 20s or young souls hoping to explore times gone by; this exquisite accessory timeline would be a luxurious and enjoyable addition to any girl’s bookshelf.

A la Mode Appraisal: 9/10

Vintage Jewellery is published by Carlton Books and can provide you with endless accessory inspiration for £25.00.