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A Passion for Fashion : Books: Enticed by Hollywood’s Golden Age? The evolution of men’s styles? Faberge? Pleasures await between these covers.

Always look back.

That’s the message this season from publishers pushing the super models of their industry: tall, sleek, high-priced coffee-table books.

People who follow the fashion world, and those who love them, can choose among retrospectives on Hollywood costumes, men’s fashion and Russian jewelry, to name a few. Here is a sampling of what’s out there:

Marsha Hunt Treasury: Pretty, model-thin and primed for stardom, Marsha Hunt was photographed again and again for production stills, publicity shots and fashion layouts. Five hundred of them fill “The Way We Wore, Styles of the 1930s and ‘40s and Our World Since Then,” providing an inside stare at the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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Hunt was only 17 when she signed with Paramount Pictures in 1935. Four years later, she moved to MGM. During the years she describes as “sweet beyond my wildest imaginings,” she appeared in 62 motion pictures, costumed by such legendary designers as Edith Head, Irene, Orry-Kelly and Howard Shoup.

Hunt kept hundreds of photographs, many labeled with ornate studio descriptions, such as this one from 1937: “Come Hither Hats are the rage in Hollywood this summer. Marsha Hunt, Paramount player, chooses this black straw model, banded in grosgrain and veiled in gossamer silk thread as a finishing touch to a flower print with a black background.”

Hunt’s chatty notes are even better: “This was a pet go-to-lunch outfit of mine. I might have worn it to . . . meet the fiance of a chum, who asked me to give the fledgling actor some comfort and advice. His name was Zachary Scott. He needed neither for long.”

Her “highly personal opinions, observations and recollections"--on everything from the price of shoes to the look of hair, hips, hats and fast cars--make a fascinating reference source, particularly for costume and fashion designers, movie fans and historians. They will be grateful to Hunt for keeping her memories fresh and her photos safe in “a forgotten closet” of her Sherman Oaks home.

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“The Way We Wore, Styles of the 1930s and ‘40s and Our World Since Then,” by Marsha Hunt, Fallbrook Publishing Ltd.; $49.95.


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