Fashion Rebels: Style Icons Who Changed the World Through Fashion

illus. by Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia. 176p. bibliog. glossary. notes. S. & S./Aladdin. Sept. 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781582704883; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781582704876.
Gr 5–8—This collection highlights 18 women who deployed style in pursuit of their personal, professional, or political goals, from Cleopatra to social media star Michelle Phan. Each profile includes basic biographical data; information about the subject's personality, challenges, and major triumphs; and a picture summary of her iconic style. Six of the profiles feature step-by-step activities, such as a half-Windsor knot tutorial for Ellen DeGeneres and a flower crown craft for Frida Kahlo. Interspersed between biographies are brief sections on fashion topics such as First Ladies' style and a history of women (mostly Western) in pants. The chatty tone and long limbed ink-and-watercolor illustrations are designed to mirror fashion sketches and teen magazines. There are a few missteps, as when Anna May Wong's style is said to include "exotic eyes" and when Beccia says that through fashion Wong combined "exotic orientalism with Hollywood glamour." And the text is inconsistent when unpacking the racism that some of these pioneers faced. There is a discussion of the Hollywood production codes that limited roles for Asian actresses (but allowed for the use of yellow face by white actresses), and the refusal of service Josephine Baker received when she toured the United States, but the text does not point out that critics calling Michelle Obama's personality and style "too aggressive" is a particularly racially coded insult when aimed at black women. The book concludes with a "New Fashionista Hall of Fame"—mini biographies on seven additional contemporary women, such as Brittney Griner and Bethany Mota—as well as extensive notes and a dictionary of fashion terms.
VERDICT An adequate and up-to-the-minute resource for libraries serving tween fashion fans.

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