Image is everything. The truth is only our perception of it, to quote Berkeley. And nothing is more concerned about perception than fashion and all it encompasses; from lavish runaway show with their stunning visual experiences, to fashion-related coffee table books that tie together the entire design of your living room. Now, if in the former case, us mere mortal may encounter some logistical difficulties to get the full experience; the latter is much more democratic and available to all. We now present you the top 5 fashion books of all time; books that will not only look good on your coffee table, but also might give you some inspiration in your day-to-day life. Who knows, maybe after reading some lines you might find yourself wandering along some luxury Christian Dior boutique in Cannes, or strolling along vibrant showcases in London Harrods.
It would be hard for any biographer to truly capture Chanel’s spirit and philosophy in a book, since the designer was notoriously know to conveniently forget details about her life when it came to more touchy subjects. The author doesn’t give us an image of Chanel as the sweet little ingénue that we might expect, instead focusing of her cut-throat approach when it came to getting what she wanted. In addition to this, we get to see the derivation of all the items that we now take for granted, namely the little black dress, the long strand of pearls and the masculine inspired suits; all things that Chanel made mainstream by simply sticking to her guns and taking risks. It is the perfect read for a non-obsessive Chanel fan, and it goes well with an afternoon glass of wine, in front of a fireplace.
Chic Savages, by John Fairchild
If you are one of those people that pray at the altar of Ralph Lauren, Yves Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein; then this is definitely a book that will be a page turner. Not getting very in-depth into the business side of the industry, the book describes the opulence of the 1970’s and ‘80s; when designers bumped tails with the crème-de-la-crème of the high society of New York (think Jackie O. and Donald Trump). While there is some name-dropping, Fairchild is unapologetic about all the mentioned people; and the history lessons and the exquisite photos make it a worthy purchase, not only for its looks, but also for its personality.
The End of Fashion, by Teri Agins
Teri Agins, a senior reporter at The Wall Street Journal, most definitely put all of her journalistic skills at use when writing this book on the slow decay of fashion. The leitmotif of this entire book is how prêt-a-porter overtook couture and became the driving force of all the fashion houses. One of the few books that actually focuses not on the clothes, but how they are presented; meaning you will get a comprehensive view of the various marketing strategies that contributed to the rise of “cheap chic”. Think of it as a fashion dystopia, and it will most definitely make for an interesting read.
Now, if you do not know who Diana Vreeland is, you may as well have been living under a rock for the past couple of decades. Written in a style that makes it seem as if the legendary editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue is speaking directly to you, this book is a veritable page turner. Some of Vreeland famous witticism and catch phrases might make her seem shallow, but it is all compensated by her confession that she has always loved artifice. Ultimately, this particular description of her life is nothing short of fabulous; making this book is a must read for anyone who wants to work in the fashion publishing business or simply is looking for a female role model.
The Beautiful Fall, by Alicia Drake
If you are fed up with the never-ending stream of tabloids describing the starlet of the day’s struggles with substance abuse, this book will be a welcome break. With a slights moralistic undertone to it, Alicia Drake describes in great detail the demons that plagued Yves Saint Laurent and how ultimately it leads to his early demise. This glamorous yet rotting-from-the-inside atmosphere is only accentuated by the parallel story of Yves Saint Laurent’s friend turned nemesis- Karl Lagerfeld. Structured as a parallel story of the designer’s lifestyles, it showcases the apparent shyness of Yves Saint Laurent in public and his abuses in private; while Karl Lagerfeld expressed his egomaniac nature trough outrageous statements. Now, one of them is dead, while one of them is alive and kicking. You make your own conclusions.