Word Play: Book Reviews


ReFashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing by Sass Brown (Laurence King)

Sass Brown serves up her second book in the form of ReFashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing from Upcycled Materials. This collection of reviews by Brown on dozens of global designers provides a window into the mind of the eco fashion expert, citing standouts such as Kondakis and Nudie Jeans. Managing to maintain a fresh voice with each review, ReFashioned reads as a tantalizing encyclopedia of lust-worthy designs, each magnified by its own unique beauty.

No stranger to the world of sustainable clothing, Brown is known throughout the design world for her own work as well as her substantial research on the subject. As a writer, businesswoman, speaker and current Acting Assistant Dean for the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York), Brown provides an educated voice to those seeking to learn more about the world of eco fashion.

ReFashioned is an easy read saturated with stunning imagery, easily making it a SOMA favorite. With plenty in store for Brown, we can count on discovering even more international talent while learning how to keep the ultimate design, our planet, beautiful.

Pleats Please Cover_400

Pleats Please – Issey Miyake edited by Midori Kitamura (Taschen Books)

The innumerable subjects covered in print can boggle the brain, and the topic of pleats isn’t usually one we’d consider dinner conversation-worthy. We’ve all seen pleats, we’ve all worn them (willingly or otherwise)—how much more is there to know? As Midori Kitamura presents with Pleats Please – Issey Miyake, there are, in fact, hundreds of pages to explore.

After reading Pleats Please, one can honestly make the case that this simple element of design is actually a metaphor for the entire human experience. In her introduction, the Netherlands’ legendary fashion pioneer Li Edelkoort eloquently describes what sets Miyake apart from his fellow geniuses. His dedication to perfecting the process behind such groundbreaking clothing is one worth pause and reflection—which leads to the question, just what is so special about Pleats Please?

The first collections were launched in 1993 and made of 100% polyester fabrics, constructed in a delicate dance of oversize cuts folded down to a precise shape by hand-guiding the garments into pleating machines. The most notable aspects of the designs are related to the clothing’s functionality: pleated designs cancel out wrinkle worries; the lightweight quality of the fabric makes for a garment that air dries faster than the jeans spinning on high heat in your garage; the same polyester construction means no dry cleaning woes.

The book includes short pieces by such notables as Olivier Saillard, Director of the Musée Galliera and Yoshiko Ikoma, former Editor in Chief of the Japanese edition of Marie Claire. Weaving the tale of Pleats Please’s history, this chorus of voices both sing Miyake’s praise and provide the background of the now landmark brand, and a fascinating story it is.


100 Illustrators by Steven Heller (Taschen Books)

There are few voices in graphic design as informed as that belonging to Steven Heller. A veteran author of more than eighty titles on various related topics, Heller along with Taschen Books present 100 Illustrators, an in-depth look at some of today’s most relevant artists. Heller employed his precise eye to whittle down his list of notables to one hundred, a feat he did not consider easy.

A key consideration when putting together the book was the selection of artists whose work best reflects illustration as it currently is in terms of the artistic community as a whole, and it is also important to note that not every requested artist agreed to be included. Worth mentioning is the relatively recent development of illustration as a vaguely segregated field of graphic design, with perhaps other areas allowing for more creative control. Heller addresses this and notes the evolving attitude toward the craft.

That being said, after reading 100 Illustrators, Heller leaves no room for doubt that illustration is very much alive and well in the year 2014, with a bounty of modern talent consistently churning out new and inspiring works. Heller’s ability to sift out the notable from the extraordinary is yet again reliably present throughout the text.

The collection includes pieces on Dave Calver, Istvan Banyai, Tim Biskup, Antoine Helbert and more, along with beautifully printed recreations of their illustrations. The book’s weight and size make for a suitable medium to explore these dreamlike works, and Heller’s authoritative but relatable voice make for an enjoyable read. 100 Illustrators is available now through Taschen Books at taschen.com.

Text by Kate Zaliznock