The 10 most influential fashion books to inspire and inform

Growing up I have always had an interest in the fashion industry, and I took the journey to get there extremely seriously. This led to me asking for various resource books on fashion over the years, thinking that it would give me some sort of advantage for the future. Although I’m not sure it quite did that, it definitely inspired many of my projects and meant there was always somewhere to turn when the internet had run dry of ideas. The following is only a small selection, however I found these to be the most inspiring and useful to me personally. Therefore, if you’re looking to brush up your knowledge on anything from fashion photography to street style in New York City, read on!

  1. The Teen Vogue Hand Book

A book that can’t be underestimated for it’s focus on the teenage market as it is suitable for anyone who is interested in a career in the fashion industry, giving an insight into anything from fashion design, stylists, photographers,  modelling, makeup artists, hair stylists e.t.c. Interviews with some of the industry’s leading professionals makes this a tool you can’t afford to miss.

2. Lara Jade Fashion Photography 101

Photography has always been the creative area I struggle with most, despite our generation taking more photos from our iPhones than previous generations did with their cameras. However using the iPhone has it’s limits when it comes to taking really great pictures. But how do you take great pictures, especially when using a DSLR, which varies so much from the simple phone camera. This is where Fashion Photography 101 comes in, as it provides information on the types of cameras, lenses, software and hardware you should be using. It also is incredibly informative about working with natural and artificial light, finding the right studio and lighting set ups. Therefore it is a must have for budding fashion photographers.

3. The complete fashion sketchbook – Martin Dawber

I have used this book countless times when starting a new project at school and even at my art foundation. The most helpful aspect is the ‘sketchbook tasks’ that are featured throughout the book which give you ideas on how to generate inspiration, whether its placing paper shapes on a mannequin or creating Rorsachs to inspire silhouettes. If you are looking for informative sketchbook inspiration then this will be sure to motivate.

4. Inside Vogue, A Diary of My 100th Year – Alexander Schulman

An insight into one of the most allusive and famous jobs in the fashion industry, Editor in Chief at Vogue. Although it is quite bluntly written, I feel this is outweighed by the inside view on a position which is often ambiguous in the daily tasks it entails. Alexander Schulman takes you through her position during the Centenary year of British Vogue.

5. Pattern Magic – Tomoko Nakamichi

Although this book is probably more for those interested in the production of garments rather than the fashion industry, I felt I had to include it, as it is one of the most interesting take on techniques and silhouettes in the creation of garments. Nakamichi has produced several versions of this book including one specifically looking into stretch fabrics, so to any budding fashion designer this is sure to remind you to never stray from the unusual when designing.

6. The weather diaries – Cooper and Gorfer

I first found this book when my mum introduced me to one of the pieces within it, ‘Ena Holds The Sea’ as inspiration for my a-level art final piece. I was so taken by the striking yet haunting quality to the image that I researched to find ‘The Weather Diaries’, the book that encompasses the piece I originally looked at along with several beautiful others. The book was created in celebration of The Nordic Fashion Biennale 2014, a platform for West Nordic fashion design which unites creatives every two years. Within this book shows the work of artists Cooper and Gorfer who were commissioned to create a photographic exhibition and book interpreting fashion from the West Nordic region, collaborating with designers along the way. The book ties together inspiration from Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, creating dark eerie imagery with a focus on fashion. Not only is this book a great example of how inspiration can be taken from locations around the world but also an example of how it can be taken from where you may least expect it.

7. Manus x Machina, fashion in an age of technology – Andrew Bolton

In the summer of 2016 I visited New York City for the first time, where I was lucky enough to see the Manus X Machina exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was hands down one of the best exhibitions I have ever been too, (only just beaten by Mcqueen’s ‘Savage Beauty’ at the V&A) due to it’s beautiful art direction and plentiful array of fantastical garments from different eras and designers. The title of the exhibition translates to ‘hand and machine’, implying the combination of hand crafted garments and  those that are made with innovative technology that has only come into play these last few years. This book encapsulates the garments from this exhibition taking you on a tour from a Louise Boulanger evening dress from the 1920s to a Threeasfour 3-D printed garment for a spring/summer 2016 collection. This book is for anyone interested in beautiful images of a high level of craftsmanship within the technological fashion world.

8. The Coveteur: private spaces, personal style – Stephanie Mark and Jake Rosenberg

The Coveteur is an online space that showcases interviews, fashion, health, beauty and travel articles just like many other lifestyle blogs out there. However what makes this website unique is the access to an insiders look on some of the biggest names in the fashion industry and pop culture, for example Jessica Alba, Bobbi Brown, Cindy Crawford, Tavi Gevinson and Miranda Kerr to name a few. Also, not only does it feature celebrities but is also loved by them too! Rosie Huntington-Whitely is an avid reader of the website, even writing the foreword to the book. Well, if its good enough for Rosie, then it’s good enough for everyone. One of my favourite segments and what the website is most acclaimed for is the insiders view on celebrities’ and influential figures’ closets, allowing us to see their most loved pieces, photographed by the brilliant Jake Rosenberg. This is what is featured in The Coveteur’s book showcasing the lives, interiors, wise words and fashion of figures who inspire those who surround them.

9. Grace – A memoir by Grace Coddington

Creative director at American Vogue, Grace Coddington is one of the most influential names in the fashion industry. Whilst always being slightly in the public eye, having modelled from a young age, Grace was first majorly popularised in todays fashion cult through the documentary ‘The September Issue’, showcasing the production of the infamous fashion publication and the genius minds behind it. Grace was at the forefront of this documentary being featured heavily throughout due to her creative prowess and charismatic and fierce presence, one of the only figures to actively disagree and conflict with Anna Wintour’s executive decisions. Since then I have fallen in love with the images she produces, almost instantly purchasing her book after seeing the documentary myself. Within her memoir Grace reveals her incredible life, sharing every detail from her upbringing in the rural countryside of Wales where she would travel to her nearest shop to buy a copy of Vogue, to her relationships with some of the top industry figures during her reign as fashion editor, illustrating her experience whilst working for a lifetime at Vogue.

10. The Sartorialist – Scott Schuman

This final trilogy is probably my favourite of the selection of books I have mentioned so far. I first discovered Scott Schuman when I was around 12 years old, looking at other successful fashion blogs to hopefully inspire my own, falling upon his posts of street style in various cities, however most were taken in New York City, where he currently resides. I was instantly hooked by the expressive imagery which seemed to not only portray the style but the lives of so many interesting and creative people. Scott Schuman has created three books; ‘The Sartorialist’, ‘The Sartorialist Closer’ and ‘The Sartorialist X’, all compiling the content from his blog over the years, with an occasional section of text giving context. Scott Schuman is definitely one of my favourite image makers and created one of the most successful street style blogs of all time, making him a huge inspiration to me personally and thousands of others.


That concludes this post, however I own so many brilliant books on fashion and more are being created each day that maybe I’ll create a part two in the months to come! Feel free to mention any fashion books I should check out or that you would love to read in the comments below!

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