From Coco to cocktails with Kate
Sometimes designers decide to stop sketching and start creating other works of art, literary this time. And it’s not just designers, but also a few historians of fashion and the intriguing story of one personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman.
Recently, a series of designers have put pen to paper and told the stories of their careers. While Diane von Furstenberg and Tory Burch wrote their own memoirs, Monsieur Dior and Mademoiselle Chanel get another tribute book. And then there are a few other interesting reads on the likes of Kate Moss and Alexander McQueen. Let’s take a look at the best fashion books you can find in Santa’s bag.
Staring with the autobiographies, Diane von Furstenberg offers us a very comprehensive read. “I want every woman to know that she can be the woman she wants to be.” That is the mission of the book, which takes us through the adventure that was the designer’s life, from her childhood in Brussels to her first jersey dresses and how she managed to create an icon of fashion and build an empire of the industry.
She talks us through all of these challenges with honesty and openness, tackling difficult topics like cancer with a strong message of power and determination. A worthwhile read.
A book that is exactly what the cover tells you, so feel free to judge it at first sight. With a foreword written by Anna Wintour and cover illustration by Damien Hirst, Tory Burch’s book is a lively mix of personal stories and artistic samples. The book is colour coded and has many visual aids, including photography from the designer’s collections, travels and style icons, mixed through personal accounts, artists she admires and even business advice from other leaders.
The most interesting bits though, refer to her family, and how her parents, Reva and Buddy Robinson influenced her career and her aesthetic. A great book for a lazy Sunday.
November 2014 brings us the launch of an intriguing biography. One of the pioneers of the new wave of fashion, Ann Demeulemeester is a significant part of the now famous Antwerp Six. The designer tells the story of her own career in a very graphic way, with over one thousand photographs and illustrations.
She describes her edgy and avant-garde style that made her eponymous label such a global success. And because it’s all about modern aesthetic, the hardcover version comes in an elegant black slipcase that will look great in any library.
Harper’s Bazaar editor Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni takes us on a fascinating trip through the archives at Dior, not only metaphorically but also literally, as the book is littered with never before seen materials. The book is centred on the influence and inspiration of Christian Dior, the beloved designer that brought femininity back to French haute couture. His career is being recounted through the memories of many collaborators, from models and fellow designers to saleswomen and clients of the house. A must-read for anyone interested in the history of fashion.
Yes, yet another book about Gabrielle Chanel. But is any book written about this spectacular woman “just another book”? Surely not; so let’s add one more to our collection. Rhonda K. Garelick recounts the times when Coco’s unique aesthetic changed the ways of the fashion world and how her influence grew in time. The notorious Chanel Nr.5 gets some attention as well, but the most interesting part is the designer’s challenging childhood and the paths on which her strong ambition led her to.
How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are: Love, Style, and Bad Habits by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret, Sophie Mas
Since Paris is the undisputed capital of high fashion, I’m sure no one will mind another guide to French fashion. Learn how to dress like a Parisian native even if you’re poolside in the Hamptons or shopping in Tokyo. And these lovely ladies don’t just teach you about French style, but also how to get that je ne sais quoi attitude.
A less intense background story, but it does make for a good insight into the modern lifestyle of influential fashion figures. Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the ’90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion, focuses on three iconic names that raised fashion’s profile in the ‘90s. Three notable personalities and their personal struggles are debated in the pages of this book, focusing on the decadence and the genius behind them.
Leaving the best for last, this is a book that’s both fascinating and extremely hilarious. Betty Halbreich spent her life dressing the rich and the famous behind the scenes of Bergdorf Goodman. After 40 years in one of the most fun jobs in fashion, she presents to us a fun account of her luxurious life but also the troubled times and the challenges she had to face in her personal life, before becoming a true fashion icon. A must read indeed!