Style Counsel: Read all about it, darling

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Real fashion pundits have ditched the Prada bag and the Gucci killer heels (they are so over) and moved on to literature. Melanie Rickey takes a look at two new fashion books.

The first of these eagerly awaited publications, Visionaire Fashion 2000: Designers at the Turn of the Millenium (Laurence King, pounds 19.95) is a picture-book fashion fantasy, in the format of a pictorial A to Z of designers. It has been written by Alix Browne and compiled by Stephen Gan, editor of cult art and fashion quarterly Visionaire. The second, Galliano (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 30) by fashion historian and journalist Colin McDowell, takes a comprehensive look at John Galliano's work from his graduation collection in 1983 to the present day at Christian Dior.

Both books represent a move away from the specialist memoirs, biographies, anthologies and `how-to' books that in the past have been aimed at a fashion- literate readership. Instead these are books about enjoying fashion - the people, the clothes, the creativity and the beauty. This move is also indicated by the publishers of the books: neither one specialises in fashion, but both have chosen these titles as part of their `new season'.

McDowell's book is a celebration of beautiful photographs, handpicked by John Galliano himself and donated by top photographers including Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Roversi and Nick Knight. Galliano even dabbled with the layout of the book. Its editor, Judith Flanders, had never seen a fashion show until Galliano's first Dior Couture presentation last January. "I didn't expect it to be like a fashion show,"she said, " but it was. It was solely about itself." Flanders wanted to know more, and McDowell included chapters which provide an insight into Galliano's shows. How do they happen? Where do the ideas come from? It's all there, and it's easy to understand.

The Visionaire book, by contrast, is a mixture of images chosen to represent the 73 designers whose work it outlines. The original Visionaire which hails from New York costs pounds 75 per special issue and must be ordered through a specialist company where there is a waiting list. It is always worth the wait; as a creative force for fashion photography it is second to none. Top snappers work for free and the book is essentially a collection of their best work and collaborations with models, stylists, and designers. It is brilliant, beautiful, challenging, and scary in places too. At pounds 19.95 it beats the waiting list, looks like a glossy magazine and doubles rather well as a fashion accessory.

'Visionaire's Fashion 2000: Designers's at the Turn of the Millenium', by Stephen Gan, published October 27, call 0171- 831 6351 for stockists. 'Galliano' by Colin McDowell, published October 20, call (01903) 736 736 for mail order enquiries, available from all major bookshops.

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