Reviews of selected books from the bibliography:
Max Tilke's Oriental Costumes -
Max Tilke has gotten a bad rap as far as most historical
costumers are concerned. His one mistake, at least in my opinion,
was collaborating with Wolfgang Bruhn on a book called "A
Pictorial History of Costume; A Survey of All Periods and
Peoples from Antiquity to Modern Times Including National
Costume in Europe and Non-European Countries", published
in London by A. Zwemmer . This book is a collection
of redrawings of people in various costumes and may be placed
right along side Racinet's and Peacock's texts as one of the
worst historical costume books ever published. After looking
at the rest of Max Tilke's work, I am convinced that Wolfgang
Bruhn probably used him only as a periphirial resource. Comparing
books authored by Max alone with this one collaborative between
himself and Wolfgang, it is hard to believe that Max had anything
to do with the Pictoral History of Costume text.
Max Tilke's Oriental Costumes: Their Design and Colors is
in fact a very thoughtful book. Armed with some skepticism,
I approached this book with a due sense of trepidation. A
Pictoral History of Costume is so inaccurate as to be completely
worthless. Oriental Costumes, on the other hand, is detailed
and well drawn. Several of the examples contained in the book
are still in existence and have been photographed and published
in other texts. In comparing these photos to Max's redrawings,
I am inclined to say that Max did a very good job.
One word to the wise, however, is in order. This book does
not contain too many examples from prior to 1600. It can be
used in conjunction with other resournces to extrapolate clothing
from that era. As a secondary/tertiary source, it is excellent.
It is not a primary source.
To quote Max from "Oriental Costumes: Their Design and
"We cannot reconstruct unless we can compare. For
this reason it, was first necessary to gather as complete
a collection as possible of new and old patterns of garments
used by all nations. On journeys in North Africa, Spain,
the Balkans, and the Caucasus the material found in the
European museums and private collections was completed,
and finally united into a collection. I exhibited my first
collection in 1911 at the Lipperheide Costume Library of
the Berlin "Kunstgewerbe" Museum. The heads of the museum
were so much interested in my collection that it was purchased
for the library with money provided by the state. Our illustrations
of costumes, which are to be continued, only present a part
of all the former and present types worn in the orient.
But an attempt has been made to select the most conspicuous
and particularly characteristic forms of each country, and
thus at least to provide a general view of the general character
of oriental costumes."
If you can get your hands on a copy, by all means do so.
For an online version, please follow this link: http://www.indiana.edu/~librcsd/etext/tilke/
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The Cut of Men's Clothes: 1600 -
1900 by Norah Waugh -
This is a great book but...
The first chapter is devoted to clothing from the 1600's
and gives very good examples of period tailor's pattern books
and extant garments. However, for the purposes of recreating
16th and 17th century clothing, the first chapter and parts
of the second contain all the information on this particular
subject. The rest of the book continues on through the centuries
The pattern diagrams have no instructions included so this
book is not for the faint of heart. However, if you know how
to scale patterns or develope your own from body blocks, then
the diagrams are wonderful. Patterns are taken from actual
garments many of which are quite rare. The text also contains
ancillary information on garment production.
The book itself is extremely well written and very much worth
buying if your interests are not confined to the 16th and
17th century. However, at the stiff price of about $75 US,
think twice if you're only looking for pre-1600's information.
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Fashion in Detail by Avril Hart and
Susan North, photography by Richard Davis -
I can't say enough great things about this book. Which is
good since, at the rather stiff price of $40.00 US, it had
better be a great book. The publisher, according to Amazon.com
is out of stock, which also gave me pause on whether or not
I should review it. My normal policy is to review books that
people can get their hands on in one way or another, be it
the book itself or (in the case of rare books) via a website.
UPDATE: October 2nd, 1999. The link to the book below takes
you to Amazon.co.uk where this book is available for roughly
But this book is worth waiting for, buying, and having in
Offering close-up photographic views of historical clothing
from the 17th and 18th centuries makes this particular text
a one-of-a-kind must-have. The pieces of clothing featured
are housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection,
some of which are unavailable for viewing by the general public,
either because of their fragility or because of space issues.
The photography is so good that it captures intricate detail
such as hand stitching, blackwork, embroidery, and several
pleating styles as well as unusual techniques such as stamping,
pinking, and slashing. With line drawings showing the construction
of the complete garment and good explanatory text, this book
is a visual delight and an essential resource.
And that scarlet red corset with the cream hand stitching...
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Cut My Cote, Dorthy K Burnham -
What a great little book. Especially if you are at all interested
in rectangular construction.
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