In the wake of André Leon Talley’s new book, The Chiffon Trenches, we present a guide to fashion literature – from biographies that tell everything to inspiration essay collection
This week, ex Mode the editor in general André Leon Talley released his long-awaited second autobiography. Title Chiffon Trenches: Memoirs, this book reportedly lifts up Talley’s relationship with Anna Wintour, in addition to her friendships with people like Karl Lagerfeld, Andy Warhol, Roy Halston Frowick, and Madonna. But also said so Chiffon Trenches fanned the glamorous fashion veneer, with Talley describing the discrimination he faced as a working-class black man from South America with a place at the top of the industrial table. While you are waiting to get a copy, we have collected 30 non-coffee tables fashion title to add to your current reading list; including a collection of inspiration from essays and interviews with designers, for fast exploration of critical modes, and telling all biographies.
1 That Battle of Versailles: The Night of American Fashion Stumbled into Spotlight and Made History by Robin Givhan
In 1973, the Battle of the Versailles Fashion Show was held at Versailles to raise funds for palace restoration. French designers – like Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Bohan at Christian Dior – face to face with American fashion classes, including Halston and Oscar de la Renta. Guests such as Liza Minnelli and Josephine Baker graced the front row with their presence. Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan recounts the event in encyclopedic details in his 2015 book, and discusses how it changed American fashion forever.
Diana VreelandAutobiography, written in 1984 and edited by George Plimpton, the current editor Paris Review, is everything you would expect – but, it never stops surprising. Including Vreelandism such as: “The toast must be brown and black. Asparagus should be sexy and almost runny, “and,” peacocks, I always say, are extraordinarily beautiful – but they are vulgar “. Bill Blass said that reading D.V. akin to spending the night in the company of the writer.
A collection of essays and stories about fashion, art and media in the 2010s, Sleeveless is a love / hate letter to the city and culture of New York. Second book from Natasha Stagg, based on his experience working as an editor at V magazines and consulting for fashion brands, as well as reflections on fashion as a metaphor – including thigh-highs Autumn / Winter 2017 Balenciaga Knife boots as a symbol for the political climate.
Written by Susannah Frankel, Editor in Chief of AnOther Magazine, this collection of in-depth designer profiles was originally published at Independent, Security and Confused and Confused between 1996 and 2001. Here, Frankel spoke honestly to such people Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Tom Ford, Rei Kawakubo, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and more, offering insights into the world of some of the greatest thinkers in the history of fashion.
Published in 1988, Nicholas Coleridge investigated names in a way that showed this decade of excess. Interviewing more than 400 people for books – including Paloma Picasso, Tina Chow, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein – Fashion Conspiracy is that many anthropological studies are intelligent comments about luxury, luxury and luxury.
Former editor in chief of PT Vogue Paris, Joan Juliet Buck, is the first and only American woman to hold this position. Her memoirs were published in 2017, and described her extraordinary – and sometimes dramatic – life spent between London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles. Price of Illusion is a touching story from a woman in search of authenticity behind the veil of fashion and alluring glamor.
Often considered the father of modern fashion, couturier master Paul Poiret wrote his autobiography in 1931. The son of a draper, Poiret founded his own fashion house in 1903, quickly becoming famous through a combination of innovative draping techniques and marketing methods. King of Fashion is an important reading for those who want to know more about the men behind this brand.
Released earlier this year, Job Mode by curator and writer Jeppe Ugelvig exploring the relationship between art and fashion through genre-bending practices DIS magazine, Susan Cianciolo, Bless and Bernadette Corporation. Examining the pockets of time between the 1990s and today, Ugelvig made use of a part of recent history that has not been explored as far as possible by other critics.
Wall Street Journal fashion columnist and writer Teri Agins explore the seminal change from haute couture to mass marketing, a deep dive into the mechanisms of the contemporary fashion industry. With case studies of Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and Isaac Mizrahi, this book – written at the turn of the millennium – is an exploration of attractive modes of business.
From teenage models and inspiration Norman Parkinson to US creative directors Mode, Memoirs of Grace Coddington tells the story of a girl from Wales who became big. With a story that spans a period of more than 50 years, this book is beautifully illustrated with Coddington’s distinctive drawings, and photographs of female fire-haired heroes.
A blistering account of how quickly fashion destroys the planet, the writer of style Dana Thomas’ Fashionopolis often ask more questions than answers. Bringing attention to the environmental and human impact of brands such as Zara that produce mass-market clothing at low prices, in addition to an investigation into the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, this book is an important part of anyone’s fashion library.
Fashion journalist Alicia Drake tells the parallel story of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent. The two designers used to be friends in Paris in the 1950s, but separated before finally becoming rivals. Drake described this history in great detail, following the setbacks of the 1970s along two divided roads.
Roland Barthes is constantly interested in the topics of clothing and fashion and his 2006 book Language of Fashion consists of a collection of critic and semiotic essays on the subject, including writings on the meaning of color, the strength of jewelry, and the style of André Courreges and Coco Chanel.
First published in 1966, Mary Quant’s autobiography describes the early stages of her life and career, from her childhood in Blackheath and evacuating during The Blitz, to opening the Bazaar on The King’s Road in 1955. “Life is a hero! It’s very exciting and unexpectedly amazing though, or maybe because of its intensity, “he wrote. “We are very lucky with our luck and our time is very large. We also partied – there were no real limits. “
“He is the master of us all,” said Christian Dior words about Cristobal Balenciaga after his death in 1972. From this quote Mary Blume’s biography of the designer takes its title, a book that pays homage to the man behind some of the most amazing fashions that have ever existed in the world.
Founding Editor W John Fairchild has a column behind the magazine under the pseudonym “Countess Louise J. Esterhazy”. Chic Savages, published in 1989, is an equally campy look on the current fashion scene (featuring lewd gossip about Donald and Ivanka Trump, and the designers they like).
17 Fashion Glasses: Personal History of Fifty Years Changing Taste and People Who Inspire Them by Cecil Beaton
Illustrated with more than 150 Cecil BeatonPicture, Glassy Mode is an 18-chapter memoir that tells the story of a character greater than life that inspired fashion photographers – from Coco Chanel, to her aunt Jessie. Unprinted for years (first released in 1954) the book is now available and is very popular.
American fashion designer Elizabeth Hawes is a woman with many ties. Organizer of trade unions, women’s rights activists, and supporters of ready-to-wear clothing, Hawes wrote his first book in 1938, entitled Fashion is Spinach. In it, he provides criticism of fashion and style through his typical witticisms, including insinuations such as: “I will not do justice to the future of clothing if I do not show that almost all psychologists who care to consider the subject. Agree that eventually we will all become nudists. “
Self-taught New York time photographer Bill Cunningham known and loved for his street-style portraits which he pursued until his death in 2016. After his death, Cunningham’s land was cleared, and a secret written memoir was discovered. The manuscript is named Climbing Mode: New York Life, edited and published two years later, with a foreword by Hilton Als. Als draws a comparison between the Cunningham story and the Truman Capote story Breakfast at Tiffany – except the first, of course, based on real life events.
Lady Gaga reportedly starred in the film adaptation film directed by Ridley Scott for the book Sara Gay Forden. The singer is set to portray Guccio’s ex-wife GucciThe grandson, Maurizio Gucci, who ordered a hitman to kill Maurizio in 1995. The Forden story that tells all about the Gucci dynasty is certainly not a title to leave your reading list.
Part of Edwards-Jones’ Imogen Babylonians series, Babylonian Clothing follows an unnamed designer based in London for a period of six months, starting with the fashion show and ending with collections on the rails and on the covers of magazines. Funny reading, full of gossip, but informative.
Independent once described Peter York as “Delia Smith from cultural studies … [whisking] a smart dish of Zeitgeist analysis and assessment of pop culture ”. York Book of 1983 Style war is a series of essays that do that, examining the influence of class on the way we dress. With chapters on Sloane Rangers, Post-Punk and ‘Mayfair Mercs’, this book is brilliant from its time, but still as interesting as 2020.
A triple biography that tells the interrelated story of three different women – New York intellectual Esther Murphy, poet Mercedes de Acosta, and fashion journalist Madge Garland – Everything we know is a careful examination of the lives of each protagonist through the lens of modernism and sexuality.
Academic and critic Shahidha Bari stop to consider the symbolic language of clothes on Dress: A Philosophy of Clothing, published last year. By showing cultural and historical moments and trends, Bari offers a comprehensive and interesting study of the way we dress.
Helmut Newton’s autobiography was released only a few months before he was killed in a car accident on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in 2004. The book tells Newton’s early life in Germany – took his first camera at the age of 12 and fled the country under Nazi persecution – to the period where he earned the title ‘The King of Kink’ as a fashion photographer in the 1970s and beyond.
Take time is a collection of conversations about a matter of time, between late couturier Azzedine Alaïa and people like Marc Newson, Charlotte Rampling, Isabelle Huppert and Julien Schnabel. Donatien Grau collaborated with Alaïa in the book and said: “Each interview is like a couture dress made of words. They really are a call to realize, to feel comfortable, and maybe to change times. Azzedine needs time for us. Now let’s be with him. “
Tina Brown, a time editor Vanity Fair, tells of his years at the helm of the magazine through the diary entries he kept during that period. Arriving in New York from London in the 1980s, Brown was tasked with whipping publications, and The Vanity Fair Diaries is an insider’s view on some of the most famous covers and stories that do that.
An essay selection by the director features the AnOther mode Alexander Fury accompany pictures taken by catwalk photographer Chris Moore. In this book, Fury dismantled the seminal runway moments Moore took during his 60-year career – such as Versace Autumn / Winter 1991, Yves Saint Laurent’s last couture show for Spring / Summer 2002, and Thierry Mugler Autumn / Winter 1984.
A window to the single mind of punk godmother, Get Life published an anecdote from Dame Vivienne Westwood’s online diary that could only be hers – whether it was paying a flying visit to Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy, riding a tank to David Cameron’s house, chatting eco-politics on the phone with Shami Chakrabarti, or his yoga session disturbed by Lady Gaga.
Fashion designer Roy Halston Frowick is a complex person, with a complex career to match. Steven S. Gaines reached the heart of his subject in this 1991 biography, written only a year after Halston died of AIDS. Enough Halston is the first exploration of a man who branded himself a household name, but a true story that hasn’t been told yet.
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