Fashion on bookshelves


More than one third of department store buyers, a job that often required annual trips to Paris, were women by 1924.

From the book “The lost art of dress”

Banned Books Week

In honor of Banned Books Week, Fashion on Bookshelves’ contributor Isabella is taking a little deviation out of our usual route to celebrate her 5 favorite books that have been censored in the past, but that mean so much in our present and future: 

"Here is a comprehensive list of those amazing books that changed my perspective on life and made me think a bit deeper… Because writing should be a sacred form of free expression, and reading a tool to healthily develop personal opinion.

Knowledge is freedom, and freedom is everything. “

Isabella Garonzi

1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

Macmillan & Co., 1865

This book, once banned in China in the 1930s for its people-like portrayal of animals, that was seen as an insult to humans and disastrous to teach to children, is one of my favorites. Not only is Carroll’s classic filled with amazing imagery for kids, it also makes one think much as an adult, when one learns that the simplest lessons are truly the best. Phrases like “Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle” and  “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then” truly remain resilient and grow with one his/her whole life. An incredibly magical book, that will acquire new and special meanings each and every new time one reads through it. Favorite quote? “Alice: How long is forever? Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.”

2. A Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Chatto & Windus (now Random House), 1932

Banned in Ireland and Australia for sexual promiscuity allegations, Brave New World is the kind of freakishly sterile science fiction novel that keeps you thinking “What if… What if?!” An amazingly written and flawlessly modern read.

3. Animal Farm - George Orwell

Secker & Warburg, 1945

Originally banned in the USSR due to its condemnation of Communism, this novel is still banned in Cuba and North Korea, and censored in China. Animal Farm was the first book that really got me thinking about politics: it all makes perfect sense, especially when you read the quote “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” A brilliant political satire, to say the least.

4. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

Olympia Press, 1955

This Russian masterpiece was banned in France, the U.K., Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada for being “obscene”. The writing is delightful, and its surrealist, almost ironic tone, and warm, lingering style confers fluidity and an elegant touch to the delicate, sensible topic and story that the book narrates, making Lolita a novel that has inspired pop culture immensely. 

5. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison

Random House, 1952

This 1952 novel, dealing with issues such as Black identity, Marxism and Nationalism and banned from reading lists and schools in Pennsylvania, Washington state and Wisconsin, is immensely touching. Never have I felt alienation or loneliness in such a strong manner as when reading Invisible Man during my Journalism University years. Essential to restore one’s respect for life and other human beings. A must read for every young, forming mind. 


Norwich pattern books

These happy-looking books from the 18th century contain records. Not your regular historical records - who had died or was born, or how much was spent on bread and beer - but a record of cloth patterns available for purchase by customers. They survive from cloth producers in Norwich, England, and they are truly one of a kind: a showcase of cloth slips with handwritten numbers next to them for easy reference. The two lower images are from a pattern book of the Norwich cloth manufacturer John Kelly, who had such copies shipped to overseas customers in the 1760s. Hundreds of these beautiful objects must have circulated in 18th-century Europe, but they were almost all destroyed. The ones that do survive paint a colourful picture of a trade that made John and his colleagues very rich.

Pics: the top two images are from an 18th-century Norwich pattern book shown here; the lower ones are from a copy kept in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (item 67-1885), more here.

(via costumehistory)