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"Women of Fashion: Twentieth-Century Designers"; Author: Valerie Steele. Info: Rizzoli International Publications Inc., 1991. $45 hardcover. Fully illustrated.

October 27, 1994|MARIA D. LASO

Today's fashion headlines boldly proclaim that a new generation of designing women is closing the gender gap. On both sides of the Atlantic and the Pacific, man as fashion dictator still retains some validity, but female designers have reached new prominence. Much of the impetus for today's fashion creativity is the work of Vivienne Westwood, Rei Kawakubo, Donna Karan and others. This book focuses on contemporary designers from the fashion capitals of the world--Paris, Milan, New York, London and Tokyo--and also discusses international innovations and trends.

While it's true that men have dominated the fashion industry for more than a century, some of the most famous and creative fashion designers have been women. This study of women's ongoing role in fashion design presents a historical and critical view of the industry as it has developed and flourished in Europe, the United States and Japan. Insights into the contributions made by Coco Chanel, Claire McCardell and other famous designers are offered, as well as an appreciation of the work of now-forgotten innovators such as Jeanne Paquin.

Valerie Steele is the author of "Fashion and Eroticism" and "Paris Fashion: A Cultural History." These books are available at Barnes & Noble, Costa Mesa, and other area bookstores.

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