“American Style and Spirit: Fashions and Lives of the Roddis Family, 1850-1995”
(By Jane Bradbury and Edward Maeder; published by Victoria & Albert Museum, 304 pages, $45)
Jane Bradbury (the former Jane Prindle Lempereur) was 19 in 1972 when her aunt, Augusta Roddis, took her into the attic of the family home in Marshfield, Wis. “The small room inside was filled to the brim with old suitcases, boxes, an enormous trunk, and many hanging garment bags. It was literally overflowing.” Bradbury tried on “an exquisite black silk velvet, princess-line presentation dress with a long, beaded train. ... At that exact moment, I grasped the transformational power of clothes.” There were more than 200 perfectly preserved garments and accessories, along with other materials, from a century and a half of collecting. The story of the family that saved them and photographs of the items, along with notes on fashion salons and a helpful glossary, make this book something special.