Creative Arts Book of the Week 13/04/15

20th Century Fashion: 100 Years of Apparel Ads

by Jim Heimann (editor) and Alison A. Nieder (text)

20th century fashion: 100 years of apparel ads

This week I chose a book on fashion; a subject I have not covered before.  During the 20th century, fashion evolved from being a luxury enjoyed by only the highest groups in society into a global business.  20th Century Fashion includes over 400 ads tracing the development of fashion and the selling of an ideological concept. All the ads are taken from the Jim Heimann Collection and published by Taschen which never disappoint with good quality images.  Cultural anthropologist and graphic design historian Jim Heimann is Executive Editor for Taschen America in Los Angeles and has built a large private collection of ephemera, featured in books and museum exhibitions around the world.  Alison A. Nieder has worked in the fashion industry since 1985, in retail and apparel production, and as a journalist specialising in the fashion business.

20th Century Fashion is a multilingual (all text is in English, French, and German), visual reference featuring full-colour photography of fashion ads and endorsements from throughout the twentieth century. There is a chapter for every decade containing detailed timelines with gems of information and descriptions of how fashion has changed over the years . We see that the fifties was perhaps the most significant decade for advertising and selling to the mass-market.  New trends in fashion and lifestyle were easily communicated with television and magazines replacing the radio in popularity.  An early “as-seen-on-TV” campaign sent millions of American children to the Walt Disney store to buy everything from coonskin caps to licensed Davy Crockett pyjamas and lunchboxes.  I digress slightly (!) but for fun I have found some original Davy Crockett videos for you on YouTube.

This book is a striking collection which will prove particularly useful to students studying musical theatre, film, television, photography and costume design who want to accurately reflect or recreate the ads and apparel of past decades.  The historical timelines may also appeal to journalists and historians who are interested in the developments of fashion and advertising.  20th Century Fashion is also a treasure to simply browse through and observe how garments (and ads) have changed through time. Here is a YouTube video on some sixties fashion shows you might like to watch, although the interest in animal fur may not be to your taste! Following on directly from that there is a film called: The Next Black – A film about the Future of Clothing.  Useful for fashion design students it gives a “behind the scenes look” at the fashion design industry.

20th Century Fashion: 100 years of apparel ads can be found at this shelf number in the catalogue.

If you are interested in the history of fashion click here for more resources in the library catalogue. And if you would like to find out about the role of images in advertising click here.




Assistant Librarian (Promotions) at the University Library. An enthusiastic advocate of libraries, diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice for all, inside and outside the workplace.

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