Tuesday, April 2, 2013

From the Bookshelf: Free Costume Books!


I know I've posted about this before, but I just can't get over how wonderful it is that the MET has put a plethora of their costume books/exhibit catalogs online as free pdf downloads.  You can read online to preview your selected book, then download it for your computer or ereader, and even print it later if you desire.  I thought I'd mention a few of my favorites:

 For lover's of the 18th C:
Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century. What if a museum staged some of their 18th C costumes amidst some of their most stunning 18th C furniture in dramatic vignettes?  The MET did and the result is a lush extravaganza of 18th C gorgeousness.

The Ceaseless Century: three hundred years of 18th century. The 18th C styles are so iconic that many other eras took their cue from Marie Antoinette and put their own twist on 18th century style.  This wonderful long out of print catalog pairs 18th C clothing with the imitators from other centuries.
 The 18th Century Woman. While this doesn't contain the lush photography of the other two books and is an older book it's an extensive review of the 18th C woman that's worth having, especially at this price!  

For the Victorian/Edwardian crowd:
Imperial Style: fashions of the Hapsburg era. While this book covers the entire era the main focus is on the late 19th Century.  Painting, etchings and full color photos of costumes from the era plus extensive text.  Added bonus for the menfolk - many uniforms.

 From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress from 1837 to 1877. A wonderful survey of clothing in Victoria's time - paintings, etchings and many full color plates of extant garments.

La Belle Epoch. Oscar Wilde, Lillie Langtry, and the Folies Bergere, what's not to love?

 Asian costume:
 Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress. Gorgeous photos of costumes influenced by Asian styles from the 18th Century to modern day.

The Manchu Dragon - costumes of the Ch'ing Dynasty 1644-1912. Beautiful photos of extant garments of the era.  

Russian Costume:
A History of Russian Costume 12th to 20th century. A few color and many black and white stills of men's and women's costumes, including military and royalty.

Diaghilev: Costumes and Designs for the Ballet Russes.  I haven't downloaded this one yet and the read-online version seems to not include all pages but so far this appears to be more of an essay than a photographic catalog.

 Other cool stuff:
 Swords into Ploughshares. Remember my blathering about military inspired women's wear?  Who knew the MET had a book specifically on that subject?  I haven't read it yet but it's been downloaded!
Bloom! a celebration of flowers in fashion.  Not much text here, just full color photos of lovely flowery gowns from a multitude of eras.

Bare Witness. Fashions that dared to show some skin from the 18th C to today, full color plates.

There are many more titles available as free downloads, you could easily spend days reading them all!  The link to all the costume books the MET has published is here - however you need to click on each title to see if it's one of the free downloadable ones or not.  Most of the titles beyond the first page are.

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