Guy Bourdin, published by Phaidon.
This is the book that started it all for me. Before I encountered Diana Crane’s seminal volume on “class, gender and identity in clothing,” I saw dress through a narrow fashion lens of design and commerce. I had no real concept of theory and the manner in which dress relates to our perception of the world and how we anticipate the world perceiving us.
It was the first time I was introduced to the notion of why we wear what we choose to wear and how dress is employed in image management and identity construction. On the first page Crane establishes that “clothing, as one of the most visible forms of consumption, performs a major role in the social construction of identity.”
She explores dress in conjunction with consumerism, class, gender and the public space. While the tone is scholarly, it’s not written in a style that’s distractingly academic. The lay person interested in the role dress plays in society will appreciate Crane’s insight into the subject.