Birds of Paradise
Costume as Cinematic Spectacle
The design of this scholarly anthology on opulent film costumes from 1900 to 1960 skilfully transfers the subject of spectacular costume into the medium of the book. In three image sections, each introducing a group of thematic essays, monochrome and colour film stills are printed using silver on black paper. The effect is astonishing and almost magical and goes far beyond mere picture reproduction. Without being nostalgic, it recalls early film screenings in which the light was projected through the dark room onto a silver-coated screen. At the same time, it gives the volume a glamorous and sombre atmosphere that is particularly appropriate for the ‘underground queer cinema’ scene circa 1960 treated in the third section. The text sections have a calm design, and skilful placement of small-format film stills provides optimal support for the reading material. All of this helps to make the volume with its dense content both accessible and eminently readable throughout.