As a long-time lover of fashion magazines (I was once suspended from school in grade 6 for repeatedly reading Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar during science class instead of following the far less glamorous lessons) I can attest to the joys of diving head first into a thick, glossy mag. But it’s nice to throw a little story time in the mix: fashion books are just as joyous and all-consuming to devour, and I have thoroughly enjoyed doing so (although not while interfering with my middle school education). Here are my top five fashion books you need to read.
While studying fashion and all its facets in college (after having had the privilege of being exposed to designer luxury brands in all their glory while attending high school in Europe), I was curiously confused about all the Louis Vuitton Speedys and Neverfulls I saw all over campus — wasn’t LV a luxury brand reserved for the elitists making up the uppermost crust of society’s hierarchy? Dana Thomas, a Paris-dwelling fashion and culture writer, explores how luxury has lost its luster in today’s consumer-crazed, instantaneous and always-expecting world and how we got here today.
I have eagerly snapped up and read every book the delightfully hilarious, witty and genius Doonan has ever penned, and his newest book, The Asylum, was one of my favourites. After twenty years in the industry and befriending countless fashion insiders, Barneys New York Creative Ambassador Doonan lets us in on a little secret about the famous folks in fashion: they’re all kind of nuts. Sharing real-life stories that seem outrageously unbelievable, only Doonan could so delicately describe his closest pals in all their creative-genius/ crazy glory and come out on top.
Bergdorf Goodman is inarguably one of Manhattan’s — and the world’s — top shopping experiences: super high-end designer goods sold in an ultra luxe department store is a pretty enjoyable way to pick up your favourite Dolce & Gabbana lipstick and a new pair of Jimmy Choos. The experience is only bettered by an appointment with the famously chic (and equally salty) Betty Halbreich, Bergdorf’s (way more than just a) personal shopper. Her memoir details appointments with celebrities and socialites, but goes far deeper than just fashion choices: 86 years young, the gorgeous Halbreich pens an inspiring and nearly existential read.
Ah, the 90s. Has fashion ever been as glamorous, dangerous and insanely chic prior to or after this defining decade? I think not. Giving readers a glimpse into the lives of the supermodels, stylists, editors, photographers, confidantes, club kids, and scenesters who created the culture of the rebellious 90s, discover dishy tidbits about the grunge/chic-pioneers of the 90s like Kate Moss, Alexander McQueen and Marc Jacobs in this delightful, can’t-put-down read.
Still the reigning queen of the fashion world even beyond the grave, Diana Vreeland worked as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue’s Fashion Editor and Editor in Chief, respectively, for over 50 years. This autobiography takes us on a journey through her career and beyond, and is a fabulously witty, sharp read.