Category Archives: Required Reading

The Fashion Coloring Book

Posted by The E on December 6, 2011

The Fashion Coloring Book

We can’t really call this one Required Reading, since there isn’t anything to read, but here’s a cute little coloring book by Carol Chu and Lulu Chang, featuring 50 different fashion designs and looks to color. Perfect to keep the kiddos occupied during holiday layovers or road trips. Who knows, you might discover you have a budding little fashion designer on your hands!

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Required Reading – Black: The History of a Color

Posted by The E on November 29, 2011

Black: The History of a Color, by Michel Pastoureau

Michel Pastoureau begins his book Black: The History of a Color with a Biblical quote:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void. Darkness was upon the face of the deep… God said, ‘Let there be light”.

The color black has been a part of our collective pysche since the beginning of time. With a thorough text and a beautifully curated set of images, Pastoureau, a Historian at the Sarbonne, examines how over the centuries, the meaning and influence of the color has fluctuated in relation to culture, art and dress.

Prior to the year 1000, black was easily accepted as clothing. But in the early Christian period, black became less a color for everyday life and took on an association with the devilish and infernal. In medieval times, black was symbolic of wealth, royalty and luxury, before swinging back to the gloom and depression of the Romantic Period (think Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven). In the 20th century, black and white film, photography and print elevated black once again.

As acceptability and perception have shifted over time, today we see black as a dual personality: the proper, businesslike, modern, sleek color of the little black dress and the business suit is the same as the dark, rebellious, dangerous color of the gothic and the undergound. Black reflects the duality of human values in our modern society. Much like Pastoureau looks at broad historical periods to identify how perceptions of black have changed over time, designers are also required to look at trends in society each season and determine how to use the color black in a collection. Keep your eye on the runway during fashion week and you’ll start to see exactly how this translates into fashion.

Pick up a copy from Princeton University Press or Amazon.

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Required Reading: Unbroken

Posted by The E on November 2, 2011

Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken, the latest book by Seabiscuit author Laura Hillenbrand, has been quickly making its way around the HABITUAL office. Unbroken tells the harrowing survival story of Olympic runner turned World War II soldier Louis Zamperini. A mischievous kid, Zamperini finds his purpose in track and field, and after nearly cracking the four minute mile at USC, goes on to run the 5000 Meter at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When the 1940 Olympics are cancelled, Zamperini does what every able man did in the age, and enlists as a bombardier in the Air Force.

During one mission on his B-24, Zamperini and his fellow crewman crash into the Pacific Ocean. One of only 3 survivors, Zamperini clings to a raft, battling sharks, blazing sun, and starvation for 47 days, before finally getting picked up by a Japanese boat near the Marshall Islands. For another 2 years, Zamperini is beaten and tortured, his life spared only by the propaganda value of his status as an Olympic Athlete. Zamperini survives a kill order issued for all POW’s at the end of the war, only to face an even darker challenge, his brutal struggle with alcoholism and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Hillenbrand’s tale is riveting and suspenseful, artfully culled from over 75 personal interviews and thousands of source materials. There’s a reason this book is at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, it’s the kind of story where you can’t believe the facts, and where non-fiction trumps anything Hollywood creatives, who have been trying to adapt the story for years, could even begin to make up.

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