Mary Schoeser; With a foreword by Julien Macdonald and contributions by Bruno Marcandalli

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This gorgeously illustrated volume not only offers a tour through the fascinating history of silk but also a glimpse into the future, when imaginative designers and textile producers will be changing the boundaries of what is possible with this extraordinary material. Textile expert Mary Schoeser presents an authoritative account of the development of silk, its properties and practical uses, and its role in some of the greatest achievements in the history of fashion design.
Silk is magical. Made by worms, it is able to absorb up to thirty times its weight in water, it is warmer than wool, and it is unsurpassed for beauty and touch. Schoeser focuses keen attention on silk’s evolution as a symbol of status and substance, then traces its central function in 19th- and 20th-century glamour, expressed through the work of designers from Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga to Emmanuel Ungaro. Schoeser also examines the innovative use of silk by today’s cutting-edge designers, among them Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, and John Galliano of Dior. She concludes with a detailed investigation of new silk technologies and how they continue to extend both the physical properties of silk and the possibilities for creative design.

Mary Schoeser is senior research fellow in fashion/textiles at Central St. Martin’s College of Art & Design in London. She has served as historic textiles advisor to English Heritage and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Among her many books is World Textiles: A Concise History. Julien Macdonald is a leading designer of couture and ready-to-wear fashions. In 2001 he was named British Designer of the Year, and he was creative director of Givenchy in Paris from 2001 to 2004. Bruno Marcandalli is director of Institute for Silk Research (Stazione Sperimentale per la Seta) in Milan and professor of the chemistry and technology of coloring substances at the Università dell’Insubria, Como.

"This [book] has more than 250 color illustrations showing the beauty and versatility of this fascinating textile, a feature that makes it an important reference work for contemporary designers. Recommended for large public libraries as well as for special libraries with collections in textiles and fabric design."—Library Journal

"...Schoeser is to be congratulated on this excellent surey, and Yale University Press the interesting niche it is beginning to carve for itself, as a publisher of serious, scholarly [books] on historical and contemporary fashion and textile subjects, which are so beautiful and accessible." - Jennifer Harris, Crafts

"What Mary Schoeser’s narrative does is to supply an endless cornucopia of fabulous facts – for example, the winged spindle invented by Leonardo is still, updated, in use – amplified by chapters by specialist scientists."---Marina Vaizey, V&A Magazine

"With its broad scope and sumptuous details, this book inspires new appreciation for a phenomenon that began in the late Stone Age, when silkworms first were cultivated in China. . . . Alluring illustrations expand a fascinating discourse on silk fabrics as sophisticated modes of interchange among distant peoples."—Fiberarts Magazine

'...thick with facts and figures, and rich with illustrations, such that even a flick-through, past images of embroidery and complex jacquard weavs, floating chiffons, crisp organzas, and a wonderful double-page spread of life-size cocoons and their aforementioned squidgy architects, should serve to reignite some of that Roman sense of wonder, but without its accompanying panic.'  - Ros Byam Shaw, World of Interiors

"This book, sumptuously illustrated with over 250 colour plates, would grace any coffee table; however, it is much more than a simple coffee-table book.  Mary Schoeser has covered an enormous field -- historical development, fashion and other uses of silk, technology and the potential for the future -- sometimes broadly and at others in great detail, with a complex interweaving of subject matter."  - Louanne Collins, Embroidery

"The expertise of the author and contributors gives Silk its outstanding depth and breadth. . . . This is an ambitious overview of silk through the ages and the effects it has had on the histories and economies of the world that will delight anyone interested in textiles in general and silk in particular."—Handwoven Magazine

"A volume that combines an illuminating text with carefully chosen, extravagant illustrations that support and enhance the written word."—Pamela A. Parmal, Winterthur Portfolio

Short-listed for the 2008 Millia Davenport Publication Award, given by the Costume Society of America.

Selected as a 2008 AAUP University Press Book for Public and Secondary School Libraries.
ISBN: 9780300117417
Publication Date: May 28, 2007
256 pages, 9 x 11
7 b/w + 258 color illus.
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