Ornament Magazine

VOL39.1 2016

Ornament is the leading magazine celebrating wearable art. Explore jewelry, fashion, beads; contemporary, ancient and ethnographic.

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9 ORNAMENT 39.1.2016 t h e o r n a m e n t b o o k s h e l f A llison llison Matthews David. 2015. Fashion Victims. The Dangers A Matthews David. 2015. Fashion Victims. The Dangers of Dress Past and Present. Bloomsbury Visual Arts: 256 pp., hardcover $36.99. This fascinating book divulges a macabre and disturbing side of fashion—the harm fashion causes not only to the wearer but also to the maker and society. Despite its gruesome subject, the book is a delight to read, filled with entertaining anecdotes, great illustrations, and well-researched information. While it focuses primarily on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in France, the United Kingdom and North America, the book begins with an overview of fashion consumption comparing historic and contemporary examples like the use of toxic cosmetics in the nineteenth century with popular twenty-first-century lipsticks that test positive for lead. In the 1860s full crinoline skirts were fire traps but so were the popular boho-chic gypsy skirts in 2005. Subsequent chapters discuss disease-infected garments, such as the louse-infested uniforms of nineteenth century soldiers that helped spread typhus or the myriad of poisonous chemicals used for finishing and dyeing fabric. The author gives detailed descriptions of the detrimental effects of mercury on hat makers (derivation of the expression mad hatter). She also describes how arsenic used to create a popular emerald green injured many young women making and purchasing garments and artificial flowers. Throughout the book there are references to the hazardous working conditions in the fashion industry, often exploiting children and young women. While exposure to dangerous chemicals, long working hours, and unsafe conditions were prevalent in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, this book reminds us that similar issues disturbingly continue as consumers' desire for low prices and fast fashion prevails. Susan T. Avila L ois Sherr Dubin. 2014. Glittering World. Navajo Jewelry of the Yazzie Family. Smithsonian Institution: 272 pp., hardcover $50.00. The world of Native America is full of narratives, grounded as it is in layers of custom and tradition altered subtly throughout the years by assimilation and adaptation. At first glance, one cannot understand the multiple threads that had to come together to weave a complicated and distinct life, and few are those who put in the effort, and most of all, the time to uncover these underpinnings. That is what separates Lois Sherr Dubin's masterwork rendering of the Yazzie family's story from the rest. Truly a crafted book, Glittering World builds on itself slowly, beginning with a careful exploration of Navajo history. Elements that form the basis of Navajo culture and society are each explained, and then enshrined as part of a portrait which grows ever larger and more complex. Both mystical and mundane are touched upon, from the traditional hogan, both abode and spiritual structure, to Gallup, New Mexico, the town through which the whistling train is a permanent fixture, where the Yazzies moved to and made their home. Where the story gets really interesting is in the tales of the two brothers, Lee and Raymond. There is a distinction between these two capable jewelers that is enticingly laid out by Dubin's formidable combination of quotations, personal history and judicious framing. Lee, whose focus is on metalwork, explains his creative process as though thinking aloud, each step being laid out one after another in allegories and anecdotes. Reading how he views the world and how he designs and creates is both inspiring and fascinating. It is a living, breathing tradition revealed in full glory. Raymond, on the contrary, being a lapidarist first and foremost whose work takes a contemporary bent, takes a significantly different direction. Raymond's life and background is told through the prism of other people's perspectives of him, although occasionally his own words give partial insight into the man himself. The book's strength comes from its dedication to detail. Always, we are tied back into the story of the Yazzie family, never losing sight of that greater picture. This combination of content, and luscious images, makes this a must-have for one's library. Patrick R. Benesh-Liu D enis Bruna, Ed. 2015. Fashioning the Body: An Intimate History of the Silhouette. Yale University Press: 272 pp., softbound $50.00. It is an all-too-rare treat when French fashion exhibitions cross the Atlantic, complete with new, English-language

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