As a writer, I spend a good amount of my life reading other people's words. And most of those words are about fashion.
So in the spirit of sharing, I've put together a recommended reading list for those who work in, want to work in, or simply love, fashion. In addition to my own thoughts, I've conulted Fashionista's contributors, sources and friends. This list is by no means comprehensive, but these books have taught me a lot about the industry's past--as well as it's future.
The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever, by Teri Agins This book changed my life. Really. A long time ago, when I first started as a reporter at Forbes, I knew that I wanted to be a fashion writer, but I didn't know what kind of fashion writer. Since the job was at a finance pub, I was forced to learn about the business. And one of the first books recommended to me by an editor was The End of Fashion, written by the Wall Street Journal's longtime fashion reporter. The book explains how conglomerates like LVMH and red carpet fashion changed the industry forever. Some ideas are dated, but in general, it's a fascinating, educational read. After finishing, I knew that I wanted to focus my career on what was happening behind the scenes.
The Fashion Designer Survival Guide: Start and Run Your Own Fashion Business, by Mary Gehlhar A successful designer friend of mine recommended this book. While there's no denying that starting your own label is incredibly, incredibly tough, it can happen. And it can go on to become successful. With a forward by entrepreneur Diane von Furstenberg, Gehlhar aims to give aspiring designers a bit of guidance. House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, by Sara Gay Forden The '90s was a hugely important time in the fashion industry--that's when the big conglomerates began to emerge as fashion's most powerful players--and Gucci was right in the middle of a battle between PPR's Francois Pinault and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault. But there's more to the story: Like Tom Ford's emergence on the scene and a family murder mystery. Juicy stuff--it's even being made into a movie!
Chic Savages: The New Rich, the Old Rich, and the World They Inhabit, by John Fairchild Legendary WWD editor and publisher John Fairchild's memoir has a lot to do with fashion and fashion journalism, but it's mostly a study of upper class society, starting with the late 1960s through the end of the 1980s. Fairchild writes like an old-fashioned newspaper man, and it's thrilling. A good read for anyone following W's overhaul.
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, by Dana Thomas The first book to address fashion's issues with counterfeiting in a constructive, easy-to-understand, exciting way. What's more, it'll teach you a lot about modern-day manufacturing and production.
DV, by Diana Vreeland The autobiography of the (arguably) most influential fashion editor ever. The reader travels with Vreeland from Harper's Bazaar to Vogue to the Costume Institute. Truly compelling stuff. The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris, by Alicia Drake The 1970s might have belonged to Halston, but the last 50 years have belonged to Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. Drake, one of the best fashion writers out there--in my humble opinion--captures the long battle between the two legendary designers, from their first competition 1955 for the Woolmark prize, to their entangled personal lives in the 1970s. Lagerfeld even sued Drake in 2006 for revealing elements of his private life to the public. Now, if that doesn't make you want to read it, nothing will. Stylist: The Interpreters of Fashion, edited by Sarah Mower My now-fiance gave me this book on our first Christmas together. He said he thought it'd be a good reference as my career progressed--so sweet!--and it has been. While you've surely heard of all, if not most, of these stylists, it's exciting to see a montage of their work in one place. I particularly loved the sections on Joe Zee and Lori Goldstein. The Teen Vogue Handbook If you're young and eager to break into the fashion industry, this compilation of success stories from the best of fashion's best is an inspiring read. It features everyone from Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Amy Astley to Anna to Karl.
If You Have to Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things Your Mother Never Told You, by Kelly Cutrone with Meredith Bryan Okay, so it's not really a fashion book. But for those who want to work in fashion--and for many who already do--Cutrone's thoughts on how to get through life are both frank and empowering. I loved it. Britt loved it. Read it--you'll be a better person for it. House of Versace: The Untold Story of Genius, Murder, and Survival, by Deborah Ball Sorry to get all '90s on you, but here's another crazy, insane, amazing story from the decade's fashion vaults. Wall Street Journal reporter Deborah Ball was living in Milan during the rise, fall and re-emergence of the house of Versace, and in this detailed tome she reveals it all. What's most interesting? She had the cooperation of the Versace family. Chanel: A Woman of her Own, by Axel Madsen Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel really did invent modern fashion, and this biography outlines her journey. You'll never look at jersey the same way again.
These are the titles that have inspired my work and life. (As well as the work and lives of those around me.) What do you recommend?