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Claire Wilcox is Senior Curator in the V&A's Furniture, Textiles & Fashion Department. As well as curating the highly-anticipated exhibition The Golden Age of Couture (V&A 2007), she curated Vivienne Westwood (V&A 2004), The Art and Craft of Gianni Versace (V&A 2002) and Radical Fashion (V&A 2001) and edited the accompanying books.


The authors, curators in the Department of Textiles and Dress in London's Victoria & Albert Museum, have compiled a glorious array of color photographs and period illustrations of rare bags and shoes from the museum. An informed and fascinating account of the development of shoes and purses since the Middle Ages results. Bags traces the development of this accessory from 14th-century girdle bags to 20th-century purses exhibiting the creative use of leather or manufactured materials. Shoes track decorative shoes, with varying heel heights, from medieval flats to modern lucite heels. Both books discuss men's and women's accessories but picture more of the latter, since more examples have survived. Using small type fonts to fit a great deal of information into a compact size (8" x 7"), these works are history books, not collectors' guides; there are, for example, no price listings. But savvy collectors will wish to read these authoritative tomes to gain familiarity with characteristic styles. Valuable for costume history students and other interested readers in academic, public, and museum libraries.--Therese Duzinkiewicz Baker, Western Kentucky Univ. Libs., Bowling Green Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

'Features everything from the early-day drawstring purses to the latest Chanel bag' Marie Claire

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