In this weekly feature, InStyle’s Fashion News Director Eric Wilson shares his favorite fashion moment of the week, and explains how it could shape styles to come. Look for it on What’s Right Now every Friday.
The Moment: Spring break for the fashion flock requires a reading list all its own, and some of the titles making their way into stores this month are well suited to aspiring designers and those who love them. Among the spring releases that have appeared on my desk are a few that are perfect for a light browsing—not too deep, but not as dull as college textbooks, either.
Take, for example, The School of Fashion: 30 Parsons Designers, published by Assouline. A book about famous designers who once studied at Parsons The New School for Design might sound like it is intended for a very narrow audience, but this is more of a collection of inspiring bon mots and yearbook-style entries about designers who have gone onto greater things, including Alexander Wang, Anna Sui, Derek Lam, and Donna Karan. Several designers answered questionnaires as well, like Narciso Rodriguez, who, when asked what people call him besides his own name, answers, "Cheese."
Another book from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, The Pursuit of Style: Advice & Musings From America's Top Fashion Designers, from Abrams, is also best read by flipping to pages randomly, as it is almost entirely quotes by designers on a garden variety of topics. Some examples:
I knew I wanted to be a designer when… "I saw Cher on TV," David Meister says on page 68.
To be successful at work, you should "meditate and drink soy lattes," Mara Hoffman says on page 80.
Rachel Zoe's top five studio essentials, on page 104: "English breakfast tea, bubbly water, trail mix with berries, seventies music, white flowers, big windows, and lots of sunlight."
Technically that's seven.
Speaking of seven, this brings us to Seven Sisters of Style: The All-American Preppy Look, by Rebecca C. Tuite and published by Rizzoli. This is a fantastic photo and essay collection on the underappreciated role of women's college campuses in establishing the codes of preppy fashion. Over the last decade, menswear designers have been mining the images of preppy college guys from Take Ivy, a once obscure volume of photographs published in 1965, so consider this book balancing the scale, with photos including a Barnard archery teammate in her letterman sweater from 1928, and a young Jacqueline Kennedy, dressed in a short-sleeve sweater with a Peter Pan collar, a plaid kilt and Pappagallo-style pumps, as she headed to class in 1954.
Why It’s a Wow: Would you rather be doing homework?
Learn More: Preview several entries from The School of Fashion at Assouline, or take a look at Impact: 50 Years of the CFDA, for further reading. Visit fashion historian Rebecca C. Tuitte's site to see a trailer and examples from Seven Sisters of Style. And start keeping lists now of how you'd answer those questions. Once you become a famous designer, you never know who might ask you to name "The last thing I do before bed…"