Ready To Wear: There may well be more to a dress than meets the eye

I love a fashion book divided into easily assimilated, bite-sized chunks.

I also love a fashion book that includes its fair share of words, not to mention one that you can pick up without the aid of a forklift truck. Hal Rubenstein's 100 Unforgettable Dresses (HarperCollins) fulfils all of these criteria. Better still, and also unusual, it caters both to the fashion trainspotter and the celebrity/gossip obsessed follower alike. Mr Rubenstein has found just the right balance between flash trash and hard-earned knowledge here.

A case in point: the opener is Elizabeth Hurley in "that" Gianni Versace safety pin dress. Everyone over the age of 25, say, remembers the impact this slither of brilliantly engineered black fabric had on its wearer's career. Rubenstein, though, takes the time to review the entire show it appeared in and to point out that it was Gianni Versace who chose it for Hurley when today a celebrity stylist would call in any number of gowns. Almost as famous is the vintage Valentino gown Julia Roberts wore when, in 2001, she won the best actress Oscar for Erin Brockovich. "Even prior to Roberts's appearance, the gown was always one of Valentino's bestsellers," Rubenstein argues, "so much so that variations of it appeared in his collections for several seasons after its initial presentation".

Some dresses have been chosen simply for their fashion credentials – Yves Saint Laurent's safari or Mondrian dresses, for example – others for their notoriety or camp factor – Cher in Bob Mackie at the Oscars again. Alongside a floral print dress from Marc Jacobs's infamous 1992 grunge collection for Perry Ellis is Sarah Burton's wedding dress for Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. "A memorable dress has to do more than merely look amazing," opines Alber Elbaz who writes the foreword and, as designer at Lanvin, he should know. Every one in this volume tells its own sparkling story.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative / Forklift Driver

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Through a combination of excell...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Manager

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Plan Champion

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a Service Plan Champi...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Plan Champion

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a Service Plan Champi...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific