Fifty Dresses that Changed the World (Design Museum Fifty) Info

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Everything around us is designed and the word 'design' has
become part of our everyday experience. But how much do we know about
it? Fifty Dresses That Changed the World imparts that knowledge listing
the top 50 dresses that have made a substantial impact in the world of
British design today. From the 1915 Delphos Pleated dress to Hussein
Chalayan's 2007 LED dress, each entry offers a short appraisal to
explore what has made their iconic status and the designers that give
them a special place in design history.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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3.35

81 Ratings

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Reviews for Fifty Dresses that Changed the World (Design Museum Fifty):

2

December 22, 2010

Disappointing.
Sure, the dresses are nice enough. But couldn't the publisher afford an editor? Like so many UK-published fashion books I've seen, there are SO many typos and the writing is dismal. A chore to read. Yes, I'm aware of spelling and phrasing differences across the pond. That is not the problem here. It became so annoying, I had to send the book back. I figured if they hadn't cared enough to proofread, I didn't care enough to buy it.
4

January 6, 2011

A fun fashion collection -- but did these really change the world?
If there is a stereotype of a fashion-conscious woman, I'm its direct opposite. I work at home, so there's no reason for me to dress up -- or to get dressed at all, really. My usual outfit is a polo shirt and jeans. Nonetheless when I saw this book on a library shelf I grabbed it, because it is simply fun to look at.

The 50 dresses in this collection (from the London-based Design Museum) are intended to be representative of dresses that changed the world... or, at least, the *fashion* world. They're all from the last century, and two thirds are from the 60s until now. Each dress has two photos and several paragraphs of explanatory text, giving the reader a context for the outfit and explaining why it was so important. There are two types of dresses shown: dresses worn by a prominent woman whose fashion sense made a difference, and designer dresses that impacted the way ordinary women dressed or otherwise had an impact.

In the former category is the obvious choice of the Jackie Kennedy look, and also Queen Elizabeth's coronation gown. My favorite of these is the Wallis Simpson wedding dress, which immediately caused women everywhere to want copies; I don't blame them, as it's very attractive. And as the book points out, "[Designer] Mainbocher's gown achieved that most difficult of sartorial feats -- the marriage of restraint and glamour."

The designer dresses with an impact include the Midi dress, the "moon girl collection" dress, and Christian Dior' 1947 "New Look" dress.

Some of these dresses are unquestionably classics that affected how women dress and reflected (or contributed to) a societal change. Chanel's suit *did* define how, as the text put it, "no-nonsense but chic businesswear for women for decades," and the miniskirt was part of a new fashion freedom. However, some of the choices make me wonder if it's possible to say the dress "changed the world;" can you say that about Alexander McQueen's Samurai dress from 2001? Really?

Nonetheless: It's fun to look at the pictures, which is why I took the book out of the library. I'm enjoying the hour-or-two it's taking me to flip through its pages... as I'm dressed in an old ratty sweatshirt. Serious fashionistas may see this book with different eyes, but I think it's a great fantasy read.
3

March 22, 2011

Judge this Book by its Cover
Go ahead--judge this book by its cover. The color, the font, the title, the simplicity, the Breakfast at Tiffany's wonderment of it all.

I mean, stick Audrey Hepburn in a tiara on a striking mustard background and who wouldn't judge?

This book is delicious. It beautifully outlines 50 dresses that made a "substantial impact in the world of design." And it does this well. The people at Design Museum know their stuff and you are bound to learn a thing or two (unless maybe you're a costume historian or professional Dressologist).

We're not talking universe-altering-atom-splitting-rocket-curing-hunger-world-peacifying stuff, we're talking dresses.

But they are amazing dresses that created long-standing trends in women's fashion. The FFF (Fifty Fabulous Frocks) reflected the politics of the day and put designers on the map. You will likely guess a couple of the creations that make the cut, but you may also be surprised by others. I think Betsey Johnson is notably and unforgivably absent, but nobody asked me...

Design Museum gives a short explanations for each selection. But it's a somewhat text-booky read. I wish they would've hired a writer to zip up the copy to suit the beauty of the dresses and the photos. But all is forgiven, Design Museum.

Go forth, if you love fashion, art, design, style, picture books, or mini coffee table books, it's a very pretty read. It's worth spending the money if in the industry or a hobbyist. Otherwise, a quick flip through will do the job nicely.
4

January 10, 2011

An enthusiastically received gift.
I gave this book as Christmas gift to a designer friend who seemed to be delighted with it.
At dinner my two other female guests, a scientist and a cleric, were equally enamored when they leafed through the book.
Personally I felt that the book was skewed too heavily to the very recent past and that that the historical impact of most of the dresses pictured is minimal at best. Perhaps a change of title would be in order as the content of the book seems to be fascinating.
2

August 11, 2013

Minimal content
Nicely designed piece of fluff with some iconic dresses, but most pictures unremarkable. Enjoyed reading through it once, but not enough there to look again. Would make a nice gift for a young person just getting into fashion.
3

January 17, 2013

Not Quite As Cool As It Could Be
Bought this for my niece who aspires to be a fashion designer. The idea is great and some of the content is cool. But the book itself could be higher quality. And at least one photo isn't appropriate for a younger kid, fyi.
1

January 1, 2014

The book was a disappointment
I was disappointed in the quality of the book. The photographs were not of the quality you would expect in this type of publiciation.
3

May 28, 2013

not exactly what I was expecting
I was expecting a great coffee table book, and maybe provoke some discussion. It was ok. THere are some obvious ones in there, but they didn't really tell me WHY they changed the world. Was it fabric? DId it provoke social debate. For the older the entries (the flapper dress) yes they covered that, but I didn't see that in other entries.
3

November 11, 2018

Definite British bias but it has a British publisher, so....
While not as comprehensive as its sister book "50 handbags that changed the world", this book is a decent recounting of notable dresses through the last century. It features the usual ("Some Like It Hot" steam vent dress, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" LBD, and so on) also features a far greater number of British designers than I was aware of. I haven't formally studied fashion so I can't really weigh an opinion on whether or not all of the designers and garments featured are as influential as the book states but it's still a fun read.
5

August 24, 2016

Love the book and packaged well!
Adorable book! Packaged well and came sealed new. Loved reading through this book! I ended up giving it to my friend in fashion school and she is obsessed with it!

If you found this review helpful please click the helpful button :)
4

December 31, 2012

It's pretty good
Found a couple errors in history, and would have selected some of the same and never would have thought of others...but it is a British production. Americans have a different perspective. One error was calling a famous actress Rita Hayward. We have Rita Hayworth and Susan Hayward. I think they meant Rita Hayworth. Also said the word "vintage" was not even invented in the 1960s. Come on! It's been used for a great many years! Perhaps they meant as relates to fashion ONLY. Still it's worth adding to the fashion library.
5

February 9, 2019

fun, quick, informative fashion reading!
lots of pictures and awesome history lessons, any fashionista or even history buff would love this.

got this for my sister who’s a graduated fashion major, she immediately began flipping through and was enamored. it’s been on her coffee table since.
3

November 6, 2016

Meh
Meh. Very small book and it only goes to the mid 2000's. Thought it would be a fun book for my fashion conscious daughter but really was not a hit.
5

January 17, 2018

Five Stars
This is a great book for any fashionista or designer.
4

August 1, 2013

Short and Sweet
Shows 50 dresses and includes a short, one-page statement about their origin and designer. For those of us who are over 50, many of these dresses will bring back memories, some of which will be, "did we really dress that way?" Price is reasonable. Interesting.
1

May 12, 2016

One Star
It had coffee spot all on it
1

October 10, 2015

One Star
I was disappointed in the content and that the historical period was to narrow.
3

March 12, 2017

Book ok but small. Version wanted was the larger ...
Book ok but small. Version wanted was the larger and for the money this small version is a rip off.
3

February 18, 2016

no fantastic photos etc
Not much new to be learned, no fantastic photos etc. Quick, rainy afternoon read.
3

July 9, 2014

Not bad but could be much more better
I expected the book to be glossy and shiny, but it is printed on plain paper. The images are not of very high quality, just OK. Not bad but could be much more better for this great idea.
3

July 1, 2013

Fun to have
This is a fun book to have on your coffee table, easy to read and lots of photos. Fun, fun
4

August 1, 2015

This is a fun 'coffee table book
This is a fun 'coffee table book.' It is much smaller than I expected, not having read the dimensions, but it is fun to page through.
4

February 22, 2015

Four Stars
every fashionista will love this.
4

December 27, 2014

Worth a read for those interested in fashion.
A good gift for a fashionista friend!
4

December 27, 2012

Great Gift Book
I bought this for my husband's niece for Christmas (it was on her Wish List). I confess I thumbed through every page, though, and enjoyed looking at and remembering all the landmark styles. Brought back a lot of memories.

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