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Arts 10 Of The Best Books About Fashion

10 Of The Best Books About Fashion

10 Of The Best Books About Fashion
Diana Vreeland in her office, 20th century. Photographed by Jack Robinson. (Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images)
By Shanti Parmanand
June 04, 2021
From biographies telling the stories of great designers to novels celebrating style, we’re rounding up the best books about fashion to help you put your best foot forward

It’s one thing to adore fashion, but it’s another to be committed enough to delve into its history and tales. From Diana Vreeland’s certain je ne sais quoi to the mystique surrounding Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior, if you're looking to learn more about the history of fashion, read on for our picks of the best fashion biographies and autobiographies to add to your reading list. 

See also: 11 Beautiful Coffee Table Books For Your Home

1/10 D.V by Diana Vreeland

(Photo: Courtesy of Google Books)
(Photo: Courtesy of Google Books)

This mesmerizing autobiography is a tell-all of the French-American columnist’s career, stretching across fifty years of flair. Once the fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar under Carmel Snow’s reign, then the editor-in-chief of American Vogue who emblazoned her office walls with scarlet red––Vreeland shaped fashion journalism, leaving behind a legacy. This book takes readers on a journey through Vreeland's life, stopping at English palaces, the nightclubs of Paris in the 1930s and to the heart of New York high society.

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2/10 Memos: The Vogue Years, 1962-1971 by Diana Vreeland

(Photo: Courtesy of Google Books)
(Photo: Courtesy of Google Books)

Diana Vreeland's sparkling personality is presented here, with everything from suggestions to letters of appraisals vividly outlining how she reported to work as an editor. She was spontaneous, where she would arrive 'fashionably late' to the office – starting at noon. Whether she was asking staff to clear up lipstick smudges or fly out thousands of flowers for a photo shoot, the book is all poetically foreword by her grandson, Alexander Vreeland – highlighting the remarkable fashion editor's panache. 

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3/10 The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir by André Leon Talley

(Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House)
(Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House)

The Chiffon Trenches captures the legendary life of André Leon Talley. From his first magazine job alongside Andy Warhol at Interview to his move to Paris as bureau chief of John Fairchild’s Women’s Wear Daily then his tenure at American Vogue under Grace Mirabella––his significance glistens through the pages. Unravelling the fashion industry from the inside-out, the book candidly informs readers of how despite racism, illicit rumours, and all the other challenges faced––Leon Talley has become one of the most renowned voices and faces in fashion today.

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4/10 The Little Dictionary of Fashion: A Guide to Dress Sense for Every Woman by Christian Dior

(Photo: Courtesy of Flora and Henri)
(Photo: Courtesy of Flora and Henri)

Published for the London’s Victoria and Albert Museum’s Golden Age of Couture exhibition, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Dior–––this indispensable guide is filled with timeless advice. Revealing the secrets of style special to every woman, everything from what to wear at a wedding to how to walk with grace is in the pages. Perfect for style-conscious individuals––this dictionary would make a great gift.

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5/10 Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon by Iris Apfel

(Photo: Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers)
(Photo: Courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers)

Regarded as one of the most dynamic and eccentric personalities in fashion, Iris Apfel is captured effortlessly here. Filled with an eclectic mix of musings, anecdotes and observations––the book also features 180 photographs charting Apfel's extraordinary life. 

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6/10 The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History by Robin Givhan

(Photo: Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers)
(Photo: Courtesy of Macmillan Publishers)

Pulitzer-Prize winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan offers an account of the 1973 international fashion show held at the Palace of Versailles. The event was a clash between both American and French designers which prompted a major shift in the way aspects such as gender, sexuality, and economics would be seen in fashion years later.

 

7/10 Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano by Dana Thomas

Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Books
Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Books

The book tells the story of Galliano and McQueen as told by Dana Thomas, who witnessed the designers' arrival in Paris. If you're looking to learn about the history of fashion, this book is a must-have, and shines a light on both of the creatives' similarities, differences as well as falls. 

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8/10 The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake

Photo: Courtesy of Hatchette Book Group
Photo: Courtesy of Hatchette Book Group

The French fashion scene in the 1970s soared as celebrities and aspirants gathered to immerse themselves in chic, sequined style. Paris soon became the centre of intrigue with fashion’s most treasured designers at its forefront. Drake exposes the era where designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld were at the top. A look into how captivating the obsession with luxury is and how in fashion, everyone needs a touch of drama and excitement. 

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9/10 The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane von Furstenberg

Photo: Courtesy of  Amazon UK
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon UK

"The kind of woman who is independent and who doesn’t rely on a man to pay her bills," once said von Furstenberg. In this autobiography, the designer reflects on her life, recounting memories from her childhood in Brussels to her days as a young creative designing her iconic dress. Seen as one of the most influential and admired women of our time–– in this book, she charts the story of her life; including raising her family, overcoming cancer and devoting herself to lifting other women up. As she says, “I want every woman to know that she can be the woman she wants to be."

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10/10 The Glass Of Fashion by Cecil Beaton

Photo: Courtesy of  Penguin Random House Canada
Photo: Courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada

Spanning eighteen chapters, this celebration of noted fashion writer and photographer Cecil Beaton contains more than 150 of the author's line drawings, and the story of his remarkable career. 

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Arts balenciaga dior chanel books

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