Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing by Lorraine Geiger

Fashion Fads

I get offered all kinds of books for review, and with literally hundreds on my TBR pile I’ve been turning down far more than I’ve been accepting of late, but when Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing by Lorraine Geiger popped up in return for an honest review I couldn’t resist.

Published by Albert, an imprint of Wisdom House Books on 14th August 2017, Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing is available for purchase from your local Amazon site.

Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing

Fashion Fads

A marvelous array of fashion sketches from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. None is imaginings but each is a real person in their true mode of dress as observed on the streets by Lorraine Geiger’s keen eye, and recorded in detail with artful flair. The sketches are framed by essays about the decades they appeared in, and are accompanied by original captions describing the ensembles and the context of their appearance during this era of “fashion revolt.” A great resource for students of fashion, costume designers, and anyone with a love of outrageous fashion.

My Review of Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing

With scores of illustrations, Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing gives an insight into over thirty years of fashion.

Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing isn’t a book I’d normally pick up but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I’m not heavily into fashion and I think those who are might appreciate the illustrations and their descriptions in Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing with a much more discerning eye than I have. However, I was fascinated by the paintings and sketches from Lorraine Geiger over the decades. I found her style quite naive in a way which felt far more accessible and less elitist than the high fashion artwork I’ve sometimes seen. It was interesting that as the decades progressed and society changed, there were more images of men included too.

Most interesting to me, however, was less the fashion than the social history of the twentieth century that has been explored. There’s so much here from the move away from real furs, for example, to the consideration of how women’s attitudes to their own sexuality have evolved too. Reading, or perhaps it’s better to say viewing, Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing took me back to my 13th birthday in the 1970s and the denim trouser suit I wore so proudly and the big coats of the 1980s placed me very firmly back at university with the nylon ‘fur’ coat I got from a charity shop and am sure an old lady had died in. I’d defy anyone who lived through those decades and turning the pages of Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing not to be reminded of their own lives in some way.

The text that accompanies the opening to each of the three decades, as well as the explanations of the images, gives a real insight into western life at the time alongside the influences of the east. As well as igniting memories for me, I found myself wondering what had happened to those depicted as these are all real people whom Lorraine Geiger had seen.

Fashion Fads and Fantasies: Three Decades of Outrageous Dressing is both interesting and entertaining.  Never mind readers,  I think it would be a smashing book to stimulate characters for authors and to help them create novels set in the more recent past. I enjoyed it.

About Lorraine Geiger


Lorraine Geiger was a painter, fashion designer, and illustrator who was passionate about the visual arts. She painted in an array of mediums, and her work has been exhibited in New York City, the Hamptons, and Chapel Hill. Her earliest artistic memories were of drawing paper dolls and designing wardrobes for them. In her late teens she pursued that interest by attending the New York School of Fine Arts and Applied Design and Parson’s School of Design. In the late forties she married Albert Geiger, a custom milliner who was to become a leading designer of women’s clothes.

Lorraine worked with her husband on design and publicity. She was also involved with her husband’s freelance design projects which took them to Europe, especially Paris, Rome, and London. She loved Paris and returned as often as possible. During this period she was inspired to do quick sketches in her notebook of people on the streets who were outrageously dressed in one way or another. Over the years this led to her documenting those modes of dress in the US and abroad from the seventies until the present, by developing her rough sketches into finished illustrations.

Near the end of the eighties Lorraine and Bert retired from fashion and moved to East Hampton, NY, where Lorraine pursued her artistic endeavors, and painted at the Art Barge in Napeague. They customarily traveled to San Miguel de Allende, a well known artist colony for the winter, and Lorraine painted there at the Instituto Allende and at private studios.

In 1993 the Geigers moved to Chapel Hill. She studied figure drawing at UNC and also at the Art Center in Carrboro and continued to work on her illustrations up until her death.

She was also passionate and outspoken about social issues, and led a legal battle in New York City over the reversal of Andrew Carnegie’s wishes that Carnegie Hall remain a place for artists to live and work. She was a great inspiration to her children and grandchildren, and to all her family and friends. Her creativity, her strength, and her sense of humor strongly influenced their lives.

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