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UAL Research Online


Schoeser, Mary (2007) Silk. Yale University Press, London, England. ISBN 9780300117417, 0300117418

Type of Research: Book
Creators: Schoeser, Mary

This gorgeously illustrated volume not only offers a tour through the fascinating history of silk but also a glimpse into the future, when imaginative designers and textile producers will be changing the boundaries of what is possible with this extraordinary material. Textile expert Mary Schoeser presents an authoritative account of the development of silk, its properties and practical uses, and its role in some of the greatest achievements in the history of fashion design.

Silk is magical. Made by worms, it is able to absorb up to thirty times its weight in water, it is warmer than wool, and it is unsurpassed for beauty and touch. Schoeser focuses keen attention on silk’s evolution as a symbol of status and substance, then traces its central function in 19th- and 20th-century glamour, expressed through the work of designers from Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga to Emmanuel Ungaro. Schoeser also examines the innovative use of silk by today’s cutting-edge designers, among them Alexander McQueen, Issey Miyake, and John Galliano of Dior. She concludes with a detailed investigation of new silk technologies and how they continue to extend both the physical properties of silk and the possibilities for creative design.

Other Contributors:
Other (Contributor)Marcandalli, Bruno
Other (Foreword)Macdonald, Julien
Official Website: http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300117417
Additional Information (Publicly available):

This research was undertaken at the request and with the indirect funding of CEPS (the European Centre for Silk Promotion). Its main concern is that the silk-related skills of the Western world may be lost due to competition from the Far East. My remit was to produce a book that not only chronicles the significance of silk to past economic and aesthetic developments, but that demonstrates its continued relevance to contemporary practice, both artistic and scientific. This accords with my on-going research into the 'location of innovation', and the related Fashion's Memory project.

Silk contributes new research to the field in documenting US policies enacted in the post-WW2 period, which led directly to the current dominance of China in textile manufacturing. It proposes new ways of thinking about the significance of the textile trade, including, for example, that the process of wearing or using foreign cloths also transplants the mode of that cloth's use, thus challenging the notion of Euro-centric fashion innovation. It enhances knowledge about silk by examining its unique physical structure, unlike other recent books on silk that focus solely on its history and aesthetics. A major achievement is the inclusion of a brief chapter on the future of silk by a leading silk scientist, Professor Marcandalli, and a technical glossary produced under his guidance by his colleagues in Milan and Como. The final section also includes my own research on silk science and a concluding examination of the contribution that this fibre’s chemical and physical properties make to contemporary developments. It includes extensive development of themes I first allude to in my book World Textiles published in 2003 (Thames and Hudson, ISBN: 0-500-20369-5) and in the later paper 'Silk: precious and powerful' (the political significance of American post-war policies) for the 'Textile Arts Committee 2007’ lecture series.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: RAE2008 UoA63
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Yale University Press
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > Central Saint Martins
Date: 9 April 2007
Funders: European Centre for Silk Promotion
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2009 12:41
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 14:25
Item ID: 898
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/898

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