About 18 months ago I was contacted by Ivy Press and asked if I’d like to work on a book called 30 Second Fashion. It was to be part of a series of 30 Second … books – each covering a specific topic, which is divided into 50 essential themes, with each theme then discussed over a double page spread that can be read in 30 seconds.
This sounded like a challenge not to be missed – but how to you boil fashion down into 50 topics? That was the first task – once I’d agreed to take on the role of consultant editor. So I set about making a list, trying to think what someone would want to know, or need to know if they were interested in fashion, but just starting to find out about it … Some things were obvious – something on different types of fashion – haute couture, ready-to-wear etc, but also a section on streetstyle. The various types of media involved in promoting fashion needed to be included and influential designers … and … and … the list got long, then was cut down, then refined to make it as clear and comprehensive as possible. You can see what I ended up choosing in the image showing the contents page.
Next, was to decide who to ask to write each section. I took on some topics myself (I can never pass up the opportunity to write about Madeleine Vionnet, for example – I’ve included that spread here for you to see), but I wanted to approach people I knew could produce fluent, wonderful text – and importantly, who could be ultra concise, and very prompt, as the deadline was short.
I was lucky – all my first choices said ‘yes’ and they were all as brilliant as I knew they would be. Several were former students from The Courtauld – all have varied and fascinating interests and experience that made for an interesting group of contributors:
Julia Rea loves Chanel, really understands the contemporary industry and is a freelance writer
Katerina Pantelides is great on details and how history and contemporary meet and is writing a novel
Rebecca Straub is currently at Yale University studying for a PhD and is always great on imagery
Emma McClendon is brilliant on key figures in the industry and is now Assistant Curator at Museum at FIT
All had previously studied with me at MA or PhD level, so I knew they would produce perfect, well-researched text. And finally, two long-standing friends and peers:
Olga Vainshtein, who knows all there is to know about digital media and fashion – and who is one of Russia’s leading fashion historians
Alison Toplis, brilliant researcher and writer, and fount of knowledge on fashion history (- we met when we studied History of Dress together at The Courtauld).
So I knew I had a wonderful team, all of whom understood the project immediately. They were an absolute pleasure to work with and I want to thank all of them for being completely brilliant throughout the process.
I also want to thank everyone at Ivy Press. It has been great working with you, we were all given the support we needed, and the book looks wonderful!
It’s really fascinating to work on something like this – to have the opportunity to gather together great people and see how they condense such a vast topic into a small space.
The book is published today – hope you enjoy it!
Rebecca Arnold, 30 Second Fashion, Ivy Press, Fashion Book