If you’re anything like us, you gravitate towards anything fashion-related, soaking up all the information you can find. Well, Alicia Kennedy has made it easier for us to do that with her new book, Fashion Designed, Referenced written in collaboration with Emily Banis Stoehrer and Jay Calderin. Armed with dazzling photos and a handy historical timeline, this is a one-stop resource on the path to becoming a fashion know-it-all.  In this exclusive interview with STA, Alicia Kennedy explains the contents of this fashion bible with a target audience beyond just fashion students.

STA: This book encompasses a wide range of fashion topics, from the history to how certain elements are constructed. Was one of your objectives to make it a teaching tool for fashion students, especially since all three of you are involved in fashion education?
Fashion Design, Referenced is, in essence, a reference book that aims through lush images and lively text to illuminate as many aspects as possible of this enterprise called fashion design. We absolutely see our work as an alternative to the often dry and poorly illustrated textbooks marketed to schools. It’s our hope that students, whether in design, communications, or merchandising programs, will discover something in our depiction of the fashion cycle and in our parade of designers to excite their imaginations.

It’s our hope that students…will discover something in our depiction of the fashion cycle and in our parade of designers to excite their imaginations

STA: What is your favorite part of the book? (Not to influence you, but mine is the historical timeline with the illustrations at the beginning!)
I really love the first two subsections because they posed such a challenge. These delineate the components of haute couture, on the one hand, and the trajectory of ready-to-wear, on the other. But I had the most fun putting together the timeline, starting with folks strutting the streets of the Renaissance city in all their finery and ending with the wild fluctuations of style in the 1990s, from Lagerfeld’s high-low pairings at Chanel to McQueen’s cheeky bumsters. Of course, it’s the charming drawings that enliven this section, especially those by Lynn Blake.

STA: This book is chock-full of facts, histories, profiles, and behind-the-scenes looks. What’s the most interesting thing you learned while doing research for this book?
One piece of history whose deep ramifications became clearer was the Grand Divertissement à Versailles. In a fashion showdown in 1973 the simple elegance and verve of five ready-to-wear designers from New York KO’d the elaborate efforts of five top Parisian couturiers. Just as important were the racial barriers tumbled when eight African American models walked the Americans’ runway. I also discovered some truly extraordinary directions that fashion is taking, such as Suzanne Lee’s BioCouture project, which attempts to “grow” clothing from bacteria. But what I found interesting above all else was the enormously different trajectories that designers have taken to get to where they are now.

FD,R aims to reveal that there are as many routes to a fashion practice as there are fashioned objects.

STA: We heard that you are a big STA fan! What is your favorite piece (or pieces) that you’ve found in one of our stores?
I am a fan. While I’ve found great pieces at STA stores by Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens, and Miuccia Prada, I have two favorite garments: a silk dropped-waist dress by Phoebe Philo for Céline, very severe and modern, and a wool jacket by Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garçons, a play on the trench that I wear both with black jeans and with cocktail dresses.

STA: If you could wear one thing for a week and not be judged by anyone, what would it be?
I tend to dress in a kind of urban uniform, so it already seems as if I’m wearing the same thing repeatedly. The whole issue of judgment fascinates me, though.

When I do wear something that stands out… I love how it invites complete strangers to come up and start a conversation.

A sneak peek of what's inside.

You can grab a copy of this fashion guide on Amazon, it’s the perfect accessory to any closet!