Many look books are story books. They talk of fables, or recent events,
or places visited, or things overheard. Recently, Starfish looked at the work
of artist Len Lye to create a story-based collection, while Sophie Burrowes
visited a dark, but sometimes silvery, London for her look book.
And, like a sub-genre, the world of nostalgia has increasingly become a big,
warm engine for storyline inspiration. Nostalgia isn't riding back centuries to
epochs we never knew like the court of Eighteenth Century France or the
horse-racing events of Edwardian times. More, it is a brief trip back into our
own memories. It can be a glance at things we're just on the cusp of forgetting
about: psychedelic patterns, quaint sayings, black and white TV, sitting around
a cheese fondue.
With such effort going into the look book, it is great to see print versions still
being produced along with the online presentations. The printed books are
distinctively tactile. We spot them sitting on counters, we take them away for
perusal at our leisure, and we can show them to friends. The print medium
allows for a huge variety of size from the jumbo like a Sunday newspaper
through to a pocket-edition. All types of paper stock are used from newsprint
One such pocket-edition look book is the Voon Winter 2011 collection: "How to Make a Bath Bomb". Immediately we are in the realm of story-telling (the 'how-to' manual), and nostalgia
('I haven't heard of that for ages'). Voon's book takes us through instructions of how to make these scented tablets which fizz when they hit water at a delicious, illustrated pace. Oh no, we won't be rushed.
This image is called 'Sprinkle with Dried Petals'. We are about half way through the recipe, and illustrated is the collection's Bow Wow jacket and skirt. This is a fine weave of polyester/wool, with the white cotton bows being felted and weaved into the bolts of fabric. The bows are arresting and fanciful; not unlike the black tips of ermine tails seen across the dazzling white of coronation robes.
We are now ready to deliver the bath bomb to a friend. Illustrated here is the Cupcake Dress -- its confectionery pink colouring and glorious rose blooms done in velveteen. Over the dress is the Frosting Jacket. Although entirely synthetic, the material has exactly the same texture and feel as the Astrakhan wool used for centuries as collars, hats and facings.