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  • Valentino, 1995

  • Moschino spring/summer 1997

  • Alexander McQueen, 2007

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“Invitation Strictly Personal: 40 Years of Fashion Show Invites” book by Iain R. Webb

Iain R. Webb is an awarded British fashion critic, curator, professor at Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins, and ex-fashion editor and director at influential publications like Blitz, The Evening Standard, Elle, The Times and Harpers & Queen. Throughout his longtime career, which included covering hundreds of fashion shows worldwide, Webb has been meticulously collecting invitations from some of the most iconic fashion houses in the world, among them Chanel, Alexander McQueen, Kenzo, Valentino, Jean Paul Gaultier, John Galliano and Comme Des Garçons. Urged by his fellow journalists and friends, Webb decided to share with the public his impressive archive in a new coffee table tome that was published some months ago by Goodman Books. Titled “Invitation Strictly Personal: 40 Years of Fashion Show Invites”, the book showcases Webb’s extensive collection that, apart from the sought-after invitations, many of which have never been displayed before, also includes memorabilia, posters, show notes, personal photos and promotional products, ranging from cassette tapes and paper masks to tote bags, key chains, stickers and pins.

Webb has the amazing ability as an author to contextualize his material, providing valuable information, as well as witty insights, which offer us a unique view on the amazing world of fashion. At the same time, his curated selection of fashion invitations serves as an inspiring journey into all the creative disciplines that are associated with fashion, from illustration and photography to calligraphy and graphic design. After all, fashion invitations are an intriguing tool that not only serves as a continuation of the designer’s creative universe, but also captures the zeitgeist of time and fashion’s influence on pop culture.

The invitation is the first opportunity that a designer has to share their new fashion statement. They can provide clues to the forthcoming show, or simply inform guests of the time, date and venue. At their best they are a visual continuation of the creative thread that designers are wishing to share that particular season. They should prick the imagination,” Webb told recently Central Saint Martins’ magazine 1 Granary. “Invitations can be decorative, political, humorous or provocative but even the most basic and pragmatic inevitably reflects the designer’s aesthetic and ethos,” he concluded. “Invitation Strictly Personal: 40 Years of Fashion Show Invites” includes a foreword by celebrated designer Anna Sui and contributions by Webb’s fellow fashion writers, among them Colin McDowell. The book is now available at selected bookstores, as well as online.