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Some people would say that the idea of a “fashion book” is a bit of an oxymoron. Fashion is just clothes and skinny models, they sneer, what does that have to do with reading? But fashion is more than clothes; it’s an industry, an art form, even a thermometer for social and economic changes. And those things are most definitely worth reading about.
There are many types of fashion books. There are the style guides that help you build your wardrobe and style; There are history books that study particular fashions throughout the ages; there are are style house books that tell the visual and written story of a particular line through it’s history; and there are memoirs, written by those whose lives have been spent shaping the industry. Here are some of our favorites.
Nina Garcia has made a huge name for herself in the fashion industry, first in fashion PR for Marc Jacobs, then as an editor at Elle and Marie Claire, and now as a judge on Project Runway. This is her second, and in our opinion, very best book. The One Hundred describes all the pieces you can have for your wardrobe. Granted, you might not need all 100, but it really helps you understand each piece and what purpose it can serve in your closet.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Andrew Bolton
There is no flame in fashion that burned brighter and made more of an impact than Lee McQueen. His stunning shows and Alexander McQueen line changed the game for every part of the industry. His untimely passing left a hole in the heart of the fashion world that has yet to be filled by any new designer. After his death, the Metropolitan Museum put together the Savage Beauty exhibit celebrating his work. It was a massive success with sold out crowds and huge lines. A book was assembled for fans to enjoy it they were not able to attend the exhibit in person, and it was a great success. From the holograph cover to the striking images of Lee’s creations, this is one book that fashion lovers will collect and treasure for a lifetime.
That Extra Half An Inch: Hair, Heels, and Everything In Between by Victoria Beckham
She may have started as a Spice Girl and a WAG (also known as the wives and girlfriend’s of soccer players), but Victoria Beckham has built a fashion empire. She’s been a model, a muse, and a celebrity endorser, but these days she comfortably wears the hat of designer and CEO. Her namesake line is a massive success, and her love of all things style and design is apparent. Part autobiography, part style guide, and part self-help, this book is all about finding what makes you feel the best about YOU. Confidence is your best accessory, and Victoria is all about females feeling great about themselves. Her dry sense of humor and super style makes this book an entertaining must read.
Chanel: Fashion/Fine Jewelry/ Perfume by Francois Baudot
This one is cheating a bit. It’s actually three separate books! But let’s be honest; could you really fit all there is to say about Chanel into one book? This longstanding fashion house (and it’s namesake creator) is a titan in the industry, setting the standard for style evolution, longevity, and timeless style since it’s inception in 1909. Each book examines the main branches of the style house in depth; Fashion (that classic Chanel suit), Fine Jewelry (those pearls!), and Perfume (who doesn’t love Chanel No. 5). It’s a bit pricey, but what do expect? It’s Chanel.
Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
We could talk all day about Grace Coddington and how she’s the unsung hero of the fashion industry. She’s the warm creative foil to Anna Wintour’s chilly and exclusive fashion world, and she’s been in the industry her entire life. After an accident cut her modeling career short, she focused her attention to other aspects of the industry and never abandoned her love of style, fashion, and the magic of design. She is everything that is good and beautiful in the industry, and she is simply magnificent.
Extra credit reading
Check out Grace’s other book Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue, because she’s been at Vogue for 30 years and knows ALL THE STORIES.