11 Best Fashion Books – Iconic Designers, History & More

Fashion is a constantly evolving industry, influenced by culture, society, and history. As a result, there is always something new to learn and discover in the world of fashion. Whether you are a designer, a fashion enthusiast, or simply a lover of beautiful things, these fashion books should definitely be on your reading list.

11 Best Fashion Books - Iconic Designers, History & More

A Journey Through Fashion History

Understanding the historical evolution of fashion is essential to understanding the industry as a whole. One must also understand the cultural and societal influences that drove fashion trends. A Journey Through Fashion History is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in fashion history. The author, Carolyn Asome, takes the reader on a journey through time, covering various fashion eras from the 17th century to the present day. The book is filled with fascinating facts, anecdotes, and illustrations that bring each era to life.

Starting in the 17th century, Asome explores the elaborate and ornate fashion of the Baroque period, where extravagance and opulence were the norm. She then moves on to the 18th century, where the fashion shifted to a more refined and elegant style, with the emergence of the Rococo era. The 19th century saw the rise of the Romantic era, with its flowing fabrics and feminine silhouettes. The 20th century brought forth a plethora of fashion movements, from the Art Deco of the 1920s to the punk and grunge of the 90s.

The History of Modern Fashion

The History of Modern Fashion: From 1850

For a more in-depth look at the development of modern fashion, The History of Modern Fashion by Daniel James Cole and Nancy Deihl is a must-read. The book covers the major fashion movements of the 20th century, including Art Deco, mod, punk, and grunge. The authors provide insightful analysis into the cultural and aesthetic movements that influenced each era, as well as the designers and innovators who defined them.

Cole and Deihl delve into the social and political climate of each era, and how it influenced fashion. For example, the mod movement of the 1960s was a response to the conservative and traditional values of post-war Britain. The punk movement of the 1970s was a rebellion against the establishment and the mainstream. The authors also explore the impact of technology on fashion, from the invention of the sewing machine to the rise of digital fashion.

Fashion: A Philosophy

Fashion: A Philosophy

For those who seek a deeper understanding of the meaning and philosophy behind fashion, Fashion: A Philosophy by Lars Svendsen is an intriguing read. The author explores the social, cultural, and psychological implications of fashion, and the way it shapes our identities and perceptions of self.

Svendsen argues that fashion is not just about clothing and appearance, but is a reflection of our values, beliefs, and aspirations. It is a way of expressing ourselves and communicating with others. Fashion can also be a means of rebellion and subversion, challenging societal norms and expectations. The book is a thought-provoking exploration of the complex relationship between fashion and society.

The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History

The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History

The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History by Kassia St. Clair is a fascinating exploration of the role of textiles in shaping human history. From the silk roads of ancient China to the cotton plantations of the American South and the sweatshops of modern-day Bangladesh, the author shows the impact of fabrics on commerce, culture, and society.

St. Clair explores the history of various fabrics, such as silk, cotton, and wool, and their impact on trade and commerce. She also examines the cultural significance of fabrics, such as the use of mourning clothes in Victorian England or the traditional textiles of indigenous communities. The book sheds light on the often-overlooked role of fabrics in shaping our world and our history.

Iconic Fashion Designers and Their Impact

A designer’s work can shape an era or an entire industry. Understanding their vision, techniques, and impact is crucial to understanding the development of fashion. Here are three books that cover some of the most influential designers of all time.

Coco Chanel: The Woman Who Changed Fashion

The name Coco Chanel is synonymous with timeless elegance, innovation, and luxury. Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, also known as Coco Chanel, was a French fashion designer and businesswoman. She was the founder of the Chanel brand, which is still one of the most recognizable brands in the world today. Chanel’s designs were revolutionary for their time, as she rejected the corseted silhouette that was popular in the early 20th century in favor of more comfortable and practical clothing. Chanel also popularized the “little black dress” and the use of jersey fabric in women’s clothing.

Aside from her contributions to fashion, Chanel also had a fascinating personal life. She had a number of romantic relationships throughout her life, including with powerful men such as the Duke of Westminster and the composer Igor Stravinsky. Chanel was also accused of collaborating with the Nazis during World War II, which damaged her reputation and forced her to flee to Switzerland for a period of time.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Alexander McQueen was one of the most innovative and provocative designers of the late 20th century. Born in London in 1969, McQueen was known for his dramatic and theatrical runway shows, as well as his unconventional designs. He was often inspired by historical and cultural references, and he used materials such as feathers, leather, and metal in his designs.

McQueen’s impact on the fashion industry was significant, and his designs continue to influence designers today. He was awarded the title of British Designer of the Year four times, and his work was celebrated in numerous exhibitions around the world. Tragically, McQueen took his own life in 2010 at the age of 40.

Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior

Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior (V&A Fashion Perspectives)

Christian Dior is widely considered to be one of the most important fashion designers of the 20th century. Born in Normandy, France in 1905, Dior was interested in art and design from a young age. He opened his own fashion house in 1946, and his first collection was an instant success. Dior’s designs were characterized by their feminine silhouettes, luxurious fabrics, and intricate details.

Dior’s impact on the fashion industry was significant, and he is credited with helping to revive the French fashion industry after World War II. His designs were worn by some of the most stylish women of the time, including Marilyn Monroe and Princess Margaret. Dior passed away in 1957, but his legacy lives on through the brand that bears his name. You can find this book here.

The Art of Fashion Illustration

Illustration has long been a vital part of fashion, providing a visual representation of the designer’s vision. It is a form of art that requires both creativity and technical skill to produce beautiful and accurate depictions of clothing and accessories. Fashion illustration has evolved over time, from the early sketches of the 18th century to the digital renderings of today. These three books showcase the artistry and skill required to create fashion illustrations.

The Fashion Sketchpad: 420 Figure Templates for Designing Clothes

The Fashion Sketchpad: 420 Figure Templates for Designing Looks and Building Your Portfolio

The Fashion Sketchpad by Tamar Daniel is an essential tool for anyone learning or practicing fashion illustration. With pre-drawn croquis templates and blank pages for sketches, this sketchpad allows for endless possibilities for design. It also includes helpful tips and techniques for sketching and designing clothes. The book is perfect for fashion students, designers, or anyone who wants to improve their fashion illustration skills.

One of the most valuable features of this book is the variety of figure templates it provides. The templates include a range of body types and poses, allowing the artist to create designs for different body shapes and sizes. The book also includes templates for accessories, such as shoes and handbags, to help complete the look of the design.

Masters of Fashion Illustration

Masters of Fashion Illustration

For a look at the masters of fashion illustration, look no further than this stunning book by David Downton. The book features the work of 40 of the most influential and iconic illustrators of the 20th century, including Andy Warhol, Alice Tait, and David Hockney. Each artist’s work is accompanied by insightful commentary and analysis, providing a deeper understanding of their unique styles and techniques.

The book is a visual feast, showcasing the beauty and diversity of fashion illustration. From the elegant lines of Rene Gruau to the bold colors of Antonio Lopez, the book celebrates the creativity and skill of these artists. It is a must-have for anyone interested in the history of fashion illustration and the artists who have shaped the industry.

Paris Fashion: A Cultural History

Paris Fashion: A Cultural History

Paris has long been considered the fashion capital of the world. This book by Valerie Steele offers a fascinating look at the cultural history of Parisian fashion, from the 18th century to the present day. Steele explores the social, political, and artistic movements that shaped Parisian fashion, and the designers and fashion houses that defined each era.

The book is a comprehensive guide to the evolution of Parisian fashion, from the opulent gowns of the 18th century to the avant-garde designs of the present day. It includes stunning photographs and illustrations that bring the history of Parisian fashion to life. The book also explores the role of Paris in the global fashion industry, and the impact of French fashion on the world.

You can find this book here.

Overall, these three books offer a rich and diverse look at the art of fashion illustration. From the technical skills required to the creativity and vision of the artists, fashion illustration is a fascinating and beautiful form of art. Whether you are a student, a designer, or simply a lover of fashion, these books are a must-read.

The Business of Fashion

Finally, it is crucial to understand the business of fashion, including the management, marketing, and production aspects of the industry. These three books offer valuable insights into the business side of fashion.

The Fashion System: The Essentials of Fashion Management

The Fashion System

The Fashion System by Roland Barthes is a classic text for anyone interested in fashion management. Barthes provides a critical analysis of the cultural and economic factors that shape the fashion industry, as well as the management and marketing strategies that are essential for success.

Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes

Fashionopolis: Why What We Wear Matters

Fast fashion has become a global phenomenon, with retailers producing large quantities of clothing at low prices, often at great environmental and social costs. In Fashionopolis, Dana Thomas explores the impact of fast fashion on the environment, labor, and the economy, and offers alternative models for sustainable and ethical fashion.

The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever

The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever

In this classic text, Teri Agins explores the impact of marketing on the fashion industry. Agins shows how marketing has transformed fashion from a creative, artisanal industry to a global, mass-produced business. She also looks at the ways in which fashion is adapting to new technologies and consumer demands.

You can find this book here.

These ten books offer a comprehensive and diverse look at the world of fashion. Whether you are interested in history, design, illustration, or the business of fashion, these books will provide you with valuable insights and inspiration.


How do you break into the fashion industry?

Once you’ve earned yourself a degree in a fashion-related subject, search for internship opportunities in the niche you’re interested in. Having an online presence can help set you apart from other applicants and asking questions to anyone involved in the fashion industry will help too.

What are the best books about fashion?

Coco Chanel by Megan Hess, The Little Dictionary of Fashion by Christian Dior, and The Battle of Versailles by Robin Givhan are excellent choices.

Why is fashion important?

Fashion is one of the best ways to express yourself. It will help translate elements of your personality without saying a word and can help you develop your individuality.

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Eddison Monroe
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