Popcultured: Thinking Christianly About Style, Media and Entertainment
Steve Turner (InterVarsity Press)
Turner is one of our finest Christian thinkers about popular culture, and although he has written other good books about faith and the arts and music, especially, here he offers a variety of chapters, on topics ranging from fashion to photography, from comedy to our fascination with celebrity. All of these fine chapters are helpful but the one called “The Language of Cloths” is a must-read.
Clothing (Compass: Christian Explorations of Daily Living)
Michele Saracino (Fortress)
This is a very small book, part of a series (“Compass”) developing mature, incisive, theologically-influenced views of daily living. (There are small ones, for instance, offering faith-based views of travel, eating, shopping, listening to music.) Here, the author draws on Reinhold Niebuhr’s insights about humankind’s tendencies to want to be perfect and godlike, even though we are mortal, and how that profound insight may effect our desires for adornment. She explores the psychology of dress as incarnational, connects a “spirituality of clothing” as part of a larger cultural conversation. This does not go far to develop a maturely conceived, normative view of fashion, but it is certainly a provocative, if brief, starting contribution.
Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight from Fashion Designers
Teri Agins (Gotham)
This is a much discussed, best selling book -- which Vogue declared a “watershed” and which the New York Times said “should be required reading for people who think they might like to be clothing designers.” Agins seems to (perhaps without realizing it) understand that God calls some to specialized callings, and that fashion designers are given talents and expertise that should not be bastardized by celebrities wanting to capitalize on their fame. In lively and witty writing she shows that celebrity “has inundated the world of fashion, realigning the forces that drive both the styles and the profits of the biggest names in luxury apparel.” Ms Agins is one of the most influential and well-respected reporters in the industry of fashion.
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion
Elizabeth Cline (Portfolio)
Partially a memoir of an industry insider, an expose of global injustices, and a call to think carefully about how we make our clothing, and how fashion develops in relation to sustainable and just economic systems, this is, nonetheless, a lively, fascinating, and passionate manifesto. Often discussed, fascinating, a valuable voice. Perhaps for more practical information on ethical fashion, see Ware No Evil: How to Change the World with Your Wardrobe by Greta Eagan (a graduate of the London College of Fashion and founder of fashiongreen, a sustainable fashion awareness project.)
The Fashioned Body: Fashion, Dress and Modern Social Theory
Joanne Entwistle (Polity Press)
Considered a very important contribution within secular fashion studies, this book helps us frame conversations about fashion in light of competing view of the human body, the nature of clothing, the distinctions between fashion and dress, and the practices of the fashion industry. She draws upon many heavy social and cultural theorists, helping develop a serious and scholarly account of fashion in the postmodern era.
* These reviews are from a friend of Trinity, Byron Borger. Visit Hearts and Minds Books.