By Diane Pernet
“Clothes from our past shape who we are, and who we will be. Why do we hold on to certain garments and what do they tell us and others about our lives?”
Do our clothes reveal our identities—old and evolving? What sartorial relics do we choose to let linger in our closets, and what truths do these choices convey—about our own histories, our aspirations, our personas?
Mark C. O’Flaherty embarks on an inquiry, posing this very question to a curated assembly of 14 fashion-centric figures. These are not mere aficionados or bystanders; each person navigates the realm of style as a unique artisan, historian, or commentator. From the recesses of their personal archives in metropolises like New York, London, and Milan, these individuals, ranging from The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas to Carmen Haid and Karlo Steel, unfold narratives sculpted and accessorized by fashion itself.
Through dialogues that captivate and photo spreads that give life to their cherished collections, O’Flaherty explores the talismanic quality of clothing. He examines how characters such as John Matheson of McQueen Vault , McQueen archivist or the majestic milliner, the articulate Stephen Jones employ fashion not just as an aesthetic choice, but as a mnemonic vessel and a medium for their life’s story.
So, as you flip through these pages, you’re not just observing a series of outfits or profiles. You’re entering a rich, layered discussion—a sartorial salon, if you will—about the profound ways in which fashion threads itself into our identities and our memories. And in doing so, “Narrative Thread” becomes an essential tome for anyone who’s ever understood that what we wear is inextricably linked to who we are, and who we aspire to be. It also serves as a resource for understanding fashion’s past and present.
Mark C. O’Flaherty is a writer and photographer based between London and New York. He contributes regularly as a design journalist to the Financial Times and New York Times, and has shot for international editions of Elle Decor and AD Italia, Sunday Times Style, World of Interiors, Issey Miyake and Hermès. He studied film, and had a long career as a music photographer in L.A. and London before moving into fashion show production, and then portrait and interiors photography. His first book, ‘Narrative Thread – Conversations on Fashion Collections’, is published by Bloomsbury
I truly enjoyed the insight offered through conversations with John and Stephen of course but also Susanne Bartsch, the Swiss-born entrepreneur, artist and performer, Carla Sozzani, a constant source of inspiration and of course the designer, Andre Walker. They are all good reads and beautifully articulated.
As much as fashion remains a commercial entity, its oscillations are intrinsically tied to our very sense of self. What, then, does this interplay reveal about fashion’s evolving role in the commercial and personal spheres? With an astute foreword by fashion arbiter Amanda Harlech and inaugural dialogues with scholarly luminaries like Sandy Powell (pictured on the cover), Stephen Jones, Valerie Steele, Andre Walker, and Claire Wilcox, “Narrative Thread” not only catalogues but interrogates. It challenges us to scrutinize the past and present of fashion, urging us to contemplate its persistent relevance in the tapestry of our lives.