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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Penguin Decades - The 70's

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Another day, another set of artisan book covers.  Yes, I know this isn't a book or an art blog, but it's so obvious to state that art and fashion intermingle from time to time that I feel visibly embarrassed to type it, like when I found out that Michael Jackson had died way after everyone else had, so whenever I said, "Did you know that Michael Jackson died?" I would get a patronising, ingratiating look, like I hadn't quite processed it, or was deeply grieving or was, in fact, just one of those people who didn't own a television.

Aaaanyway, Penguin Books has decided in it's infinite wisdom to reissue some of its more controversial books from the fifties to the eighties to coincide with the book company's 75th birthday this year.  "What relevance is this to a blog devoted to fashion?" I hear you cry (or not).

The covers of the seventies books (a decade not known for it's feelgood factor if the Penguin choices are anything to go by) are designed by none other than textile mistress Zandra Rhodes, who came to a greater prominence in that decade.

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So, back to the question of how relevant this is...

For one, Rhodes is a fashion designer.  That's the first link right there.  What I find slightly odd is the choice of Rhodes for the seventies and not the sixties.   While it's true that she was most prominent in the seventies, her work was noted then for the use of bejewelled safety pins that could be considered a casual subversion of punk mores than her textile work, which first raised controversy when she graduated from The Royal College of Art.

She also co-designed paper dresses (that were sold in Miss Selfridge, of all places).  The plot thickens.  It could be considered coming full circle that her designs that were once printed on paper for dresses should now be printed on paper for books.  The keyword is 'cyclical', something that has been playing on my mind - the notion that history is doomed to repeat itself.

The designs also remind me more than a little of Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry's previous collection of fabrics for Liberty, where an innocuous paisley pattern contains skulls and an innocent pastiche of teddies and dolls also contains AK47's and fighter jets.  Or is the similarity just something I'm seeing?