This was my article for ‘The Courier’ in the 1340 issue, and it has been edited and extended for my readers.
Fashion books are one of the best ways to browse through an overview of a particular category or style, and it is through them that I have learnt the majority of what I know about the fashion industry, whether it is technical terminology found in the DK fashion history tome ‘Fashion’ or the inspiration I have had because of ‘Nostalgia in Vogue’. I wanted to compile a list of four essential fashion books that remain timeless and offer a view of fashion from a different perspective.
Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington
Grace Coddington is known as being the behind-the-scenes face for Vogue, creating wonderfully styled scenes that transport you into her imagination. Her journey from British Vogue as a model to styling for the magazine and assisting Anna Wintour is something that many aspire to in their fashion careers, and there is no one more knowledgeable or experienced in fashion styling and set creation. Her experiences in the fashion world both in her first book, ‘Grace: A Memoir’, and in her newest release, ‘Grace Coddington: The American Years’ are despairingly funny and detailed, showing the inner workings of Vogue. As a magazine, Vogue is a ‘beacon of hope’ to many and Grace is a fronting face in the incredible world of fashion shoots. Her second book only came out this year, and both are a welcome addition to any fashion shelf.
What I think: I love this book because it sits brightly on my shelf, and whenever I am in doubt of whether I am making the right choices for my career, I read Grace’s account of her journey and I realise mine could still have many twists and turns!
The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia
Nina Garcia has previously worked at Marc Jacobs, Elle and Marie Claire and was a judge on Project Runway. This makes her a great style model and an ideal candidate to advise others on style. Her experience is unparalleled and it makes her one of the only fashion professionals within the magazine industry to actually try and help people find their unique style. The book aims to help the reader find their inner fashion virtuoso, finding perfect pieces that compliment that person’s personality and style. Showing how to pair colours and textures, the book’s subject matter stays relevant no matter the season. Chasing the concept that ‘style is eternal’, Nina aims to help people learn about fashion styling, find inspiration and reinvent their sartorial sense. This little tome is a worthwhile addition to bring out your personal style and make fashion easier for everyone.
What I think: This book is perfect for the eternal shopper, as it really makes you rethink your wardrobe and focus on the pieces that are unique to you. I found that this book actually helped me clear out any superfluous clothing I had when I cleared it out with the Marie Kondo method.
The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake
Alicia’s extensive documentation of the lives and careers of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent take a personal approach to the fashion world and its cold glossed veneer. This book is definitely for those wanting to read into the lives of some of the world’s most famous modern designers, and to help understand Alicia’s critique of the fashion world for its exclusivity. As an experienced journalist, she both describes and critiques the fashion world, truly presenting a different view of the world of clothing and couture. As Lagerfeld is still heading the collection at Chanel it is delving into the early history goldmine, complete with anecdotes and the evolution of key pieces brought forward by these famous designers. ‘The Beautiful Fall’ aims to bring to light the dips and turns of the career tracks od the two most revered designers in the world.
What I think: Alicia’s analytical style brings complexity to a slightly forgotten era, when fashion was still about making a statement with clothes that defied expectations. I found it refreshing to know that some designers have very difficult personalities, and yet they do not let this affect their ability to create.
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty by Harold Koda
Alexander McQueen’s ‘Savage Beauty’ exhibition was the most popular fashion exhibition of all time, with 650,000 people visiting it in New York in 2011 when it was held. This led to added days and midnight queues for the New York exhibition and an equally successful repeat of the exhibition when it moved to the V&A in London shortly afterwards. It was a truly incredible display, heralding the inventiveness of the designer and his macabre designs. The exhibition is faithfully documented by Harold Koda in the (very big) ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ book. The perfect present or coffee table book, it covers the most famous pieces and narratives from the designer’s previous collections. It takes and extensive look into the design process at McQueen, and it also features an interview with the current Creative Director of Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton.
What I think: As a huge fan of Alexander McQueen I was extremely saddened when I could not visit the exhibition due to the lack of tickets when I was in London. This book not only shows me the outfits in their original styles, it focuses on the designer’s imagination which I have always found fascinating with McQueen. Heralded as the most influential young designer of the 21st century, he broke boundaries when it came to fashion that others had only begun to toe. The stories behind his shows still keep me inspired to work in fashion every day.
I hope that these will be some of the fashion books you will consider putting on your Christmas Wishlist! They are truly indispensable for anyone who hopes to learn more about fashion or work in the industry.