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"Men in Style: The Golden Age of Fashion From Esquire"

August 20, 1993|MARIA D. LASO

Author: Introduction by Woody Hochswender; edited by Kim Johnson Gross.

Info: Rizzoli New York, 1993. $18.95 hardcover. 111 pages. With black-and-white and color illustrations by Laurence Fellows, Leslie Saalburg and Robert Goodman.

Esquire was the first true fashion (not trade) magazine for men, and for its first years--from 1933 through the '40s--it became as much trendsetter as recorder. Detailed illustrations-- gentilhommes in manly settings--and witty captions remarked on Beautiful People Society. This book collects the illustrations with their original captions in three sections: The Thirties (what Depression?), The Forties (the manufacture of cutaway coats was forbidden by the War Production Board) and Post War (Town Brown suits get an endorsement), with introductions to each. The glamour of the era and its evolution are captured in the text, which also traces social changes, as in the March, 1936 headline "By Lips Unreddened, Rouge Undefiled," which sets two distinguished older men (youth worship came later) in coats against a cigar counter, "the last unfallen fort in the invaded land of man." The illustrations are remarkable for their detail, the texture of fabrics, the cuffs just so, pleats, ascots and hats (oh, the hats!) in places to suit the occasion. Nostalgic men and women can weep over what's been lost, but at least this book remains.

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