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THE V&A’s collection of historical dress is the inspiration for this collection of delicious close-up and detailed colour photographs with line drawings and text, bringing into context the high fashion garments made between 1600 and 1800, mostly for Court appearances and weddings, many of which are too fragile to display.

The book is arranged in themes and includes references to design sources, contemporary writings and portraiture, while for people who can just about sew one on, the chapter on buttons is shaming. One illustration shows a glorious detail of the upper part of a lady’s 18th century waistcoat of pink silk embroidered with silver-gilt thread, sequins and dainty silver-gilt passementerie buttons and made for a riding habit. Mounted side-saddle and elegance on four legs, lady riders were weighed down with all the encumbrances of petticoats, riding hoops etc.