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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bad Girls of Fashion: Style Rebels from Cleopatra to Lady Gaga, written by Jennifer Croll and illustrations by Ada Buchholc. Annick Press, 2016. $16.95 ages 12 and up

"As a child, Kathleen Hanna always
knew she would grow up to be some sort of artist. Though she was born in Portland, Oregon, her family moved around to follow her father's job changes. But by the time she was fourteen, they had settled in the Pacific Northwest. Hanna was a creative kid, and participated in dance and musical theater."

Beginning in ancient Egypt and moving forward to present day fashion, Jennifer Croll presents the roles played by 10 famous fashionistas. She includes Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marlene Dietrich, Diana Vreeland, Madonna, Rei Kawakubo, Kathleen Hanna and Lady Gaga. She does not stop there, being sure to mention many others.

Interest in fashion and all that is fashionable can begin at a very young age, more noticeably when young women move into their teens and begin to think seriously about their own sense of how they want to look. In text that is accessible to her intended audience, Ms. Croll describes the many ways in which women have used what they wear to send a clear message about themselves. She presents a historical look at many of the women who influenced changing fashions, and who often marched to their own drummer when it came to making a statement.

Each chapter presents fashionable women whose style has had an impact. Beginning with basic information that includes name, birth date, occupation and her 'bad girl cred', the author moves on to relate a part of her story and the influence wielded by her fashion sense and understanding of the power it held in others' eyes. Three other women are spotlighted. In this case, Empress Dowager CIXI, Elizabeth I and Angela Davis.

Throughout Ms. Croll encourages those who read her book to be brave and confident in themselves as they choose a style of their own for the life they want to lead. Historical in scope and reader friendly, there is much to learn here. The many photos and the accomplished illustrative work of Ada Buchholc provide a clear look at the women who have determined many of the stylish trends of both past and present. Whether read in order from front to back, or by choosing those who hold the highest interest for the reader, this is a book that will entertain and enlighten.

Women of today need not be slaves to fashion; rather, they can choose their own course in terms of fashion and how they will use it to their best advantage. They can be 'bad girls' and take risks as did those who are presented here. The message is clear. Style can be what we want it to be!

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