Who would have thought a photograph book featuring photos taken by the Sydney Police from 1912 â€“ 1948 would have landed in the lap of Karl Lagerfeld. How it got there doesnâ€™t matter now. Heâ€™s been recommending it to all his friends in the industry he comes across.
Cathy Horyn, the fashion critic for The New York Times, said the fashion designer had recommended the book to her.
“Lagerfeld told me, by the by, that I ought to check out a recently published book of Sydney police photos from the ’40s and ’50s,” she wrote on her Times fashion blog. “Can you imagine the people, the clothes?”
The book, City of Shadows: Sydney Police Photographs 1912-1948 by Peter Doyle, features photos from an extensive collection of forensic photography of crime and accident scenes and mugshots for the three decades after World War I.
According to the Abbey’s staff review, you can â€œmeet the thieves, breakers, â€˜magsmenâ€™, dope users, prostitutes and murderers who comprised Sydneyâ€™s shadowy underworld. Then observe in extraordinary detail their physical milieu â€“ the kitchens, bedrooms and parlours, pubs, corner shops, back lanes and streets of an eerily familiar Sydney.
The clothes featured will take you back to the time of â€œthree-piece suits and fedoras for the men – because even gangsters never left the house without a hat in those days – and flapper-style dresses and furs for the women.â€
The reaches of the fashion pack are just amazing. The Sartorialist, Scott Schuman, loved it so much he featured it in his popular photography blog.
“Breathtaking!” He says. “This is definitely one of my new favorite books. If I do a book at somepoint I only hope that someday, somebody is as moved by my work as I am by the images in this book.”
The book’s editor, Peter Doyle, a crime novelist, said he was gobsmacked by the attention it was receiving, but on reflection could see why fashion professionals would be drawn to its aesthetic.
“The subjects are flash people in the old Australian sense,” he said. “They are ostentatious. They consider themselves a cut above the rest. They’re criminals; they’re fast. The pure visual and sartorial aesthetic is very arresting.”
— Covering Australian fashion because we’re an Australian blog