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6 New Fashion Books to Read Poolside Before Summer's Over

Throw these into your favorite status tote and get your hot-girl read on.
book reading

Whether you're spending it sitting on a beach, unwinding by a pool, glamping in the woods or laying out on your rooftop, August is an ideal time to venture outside while you still can and read some good old-fashioned books. There are several great new fashion books out there for those who don't just want pretty pictures with no substance — we have our phones for that — but don't want to devote their limited leisure time on textbook-level heavy reads, either. We are on summer break after all.

We've curated a list of six fascinating fashion reads published within the last 12 months. There are revealing biographies on iconic industry figures, as well as thoughtful explorations of fashion as it relates to power and history, all by accomplished journalists and experts who know what they're talking about. Shop them all below.

"Anna" by Amy Odell
Another Anna Wintour biography on a fashion book list? Groundbreaking. But unlike other musings on Vogue's iconic editor-in-chief, this one — by author and fashion journalist Amy Odell — focuses on Anna the person, not the "Devil Wears Prada" caricature. Warm-hearted and Anna Wintour may not usually be used in the same sentence, but in "Anna," it is. Threading Wintour's humble beginnings leaving high school and working as a shop girl in London to stories about her being the ever-so-keen fashion assistant (hard to imagine, right?), the book reveals an endearing, caring side of the powerful editor, thanks to interviews with over 250 people. On top of being a great addition to your fashion library, it will make you think twice about the aloof-seeming fashion girls you're too intimidated to talk to.

"Africa: The Fashion Continent" by Emmanuelle Courrèges
Author and West African fashion journalist Emmanuelle Courrèges documents Africa's many and varied fashion scenes; for fashion history buffs, this is a must-have in your arsenal. This book isn't your typical fashion coffee-table book (although the beautiful pictures would look great in a flat lay next to your Aperol Spritz), as it provides important historical context to Africa's fashion legacy and how clothing played a part in the continent's culture, politics and economy over time. Each chapter explores noted African designers, the different histories and trends going on in each country and how each part of the continent defines African fashion.

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"Miss Dior: A Story of Courage & Couture" by Justine Picardie
If you like reading fashion designer bios, living vicariously through larger-than-life characters, or just need some romantic Parisian escapism, you will love this book about Christian Dior's little sister, Catherine Dior. It's not your usual indulgent biography. Justine Picardie, author and former editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar UK, does extensive research, including into the Dior archives, to essentially restore Catherine Dior's life. Far from the typical beautiful socialite, Dior was a resistance fighter, concentration-camp survivor and a cultivator of rose gardens. Picardie creates a Netflix-worthy page turner of a story following Miss Dior's colorful life, from being born into old-money opulence, to losing it all and living on a farm in Provence, to working with her iconic big brother in Paris.

"Dress Code" by Véronique Hyland
A series of essays by Véronique Hyland, Elle's fashion features director, "Dress Code" will enthrall the fashion girlies who aren't afraid to question fashion's power, as well as educate and surprise those who may underestimate it. Hyland explores thought-provoking questions like: Why has the "French girl" persisted as our must undying archetype? What does "dressing for yourself" really mean for a woman? And how should a female politician dress? After reading this book this summer, you'll have lots to talk about with your fashion friends in September.

"Karl Lagerfeld: A Life In Fashion" by Alfons Kaiser
What more can be said about Karl Lagerfeld, the most celebrated, remembered and distinct fashion designer of the 20th century? According to Dr. Alfons Kaiser, Lagerfeld's biographer, friend of 20 years and a critically acclaimed German fashion critic, quite a bit. It's hard to believe there is so much the public doesn't know about this massive persona. Kaiser guides the reader through Lagerfeld's public and personal life from drawing illustrations, or "Karlicatures," in Hamburg, to the Chanel catwalks in Paris. If you miss Lagerfeld's funny quick wit and quotable quips, you'll definitely want to pick it up.

"By Her Own Design: A Novel of Ann Lowe, Fashion Designer to the Social Register" by Piper Huguley
If you haven't heard about Ann Lowe, you're unfortunately not alone. Most people don't know much about the first African-American couturier, but author Piper Huguley aims to change that by telling her remarkable and emotionally uplifting story through a new work of historical fiction. From the 1920s to the 1960s, Lowe's elite clientele of society women included none other than Jacqueline Kennedy; Lowe is most known for designing the iconic first lady's wedding dress — no big deal. For those who love forgotten fashion history, society women and couture, "By Her Own Design" is a must-read.

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