Seduction: A Celebration of Sensual Style

Caroline Cox, Author Collins Design $35 (176p) ISBN 978-0-06-113815-7
Fashion historian Cox (Stiletto) offers an in-depth history of the seductress in this lavish volume, packed with vintage and contemporary images. Beginning in the 18th century, Cox reveals how women have seduced men using everything from aphrodisiacs to lushly-decorated boudoirs to the all-important deployment of stockings. Icons such as Marie Antoinette, the flappers of the 1920s, Jayne Mansfield and the women of Sex and the City all make appearances. Among other topics, Cox offers an analysis of the evolution of women's undergarments, from the drawers of the 1700s to Jane Russell's cantilevered bra (engineered by Howard Hughes) to the now-ubiquitous thong, rooting her observations in sociological issues as well as fashion evolution. Her scholarly approach makes the work much more than a coffee-table photo-book, detailing not only what happened during a particular era, but extrapolating the consequences. Cox ably demonstrates, for instance, how something as simple as white satin ""transformed the look of fashion,"" leading to a disregard for ""naturalness"" in favor of ""artificially constructed glamour."" Though an over-reliance on quotes weakens her voice and lends the text a thesis-like feel, those with an interest in the evolution of style, feminism and cultural mores will find the book a valuable and beautiful resource.
Reviewed on: 10/30/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
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