Fashion Library: Favourite Editorial Books for Inspiration
I’ve mentioned before that I dedicate a lot of space on my bookshelves to fashion books. As nice as the internet and Pinterest can be for inspiration and information, there is still something great about pulling out a book and paging through beautiful fashion spreads.
I have several fashion books in my personal library that are editorial in style, and I love to look through them and see some of the best moments of modern fashion history (mostly from the 20th century). These are some of my favourite books that really helped to define my interest in fashion. If you are looking to add some books to your own library, or just want to page through some amazing fashion spreads, then these are my favourites!
“Vogue: The Covers”
by Dodie Kazanjian and published by Abrams Books
This lovely book is what sparked the idea for the #MyVintageCover challenge here on the blog, and on Instagram. This book is divided by decade, and each section begins with a brief written introduction to that era. Then, as suggested by the name of the book, the rest of the pages are is filled with images of Vogue covers. Each cover is labeled with the date and name of either the illustrator or photographer. Some of the covers also have the model’s name included.
My one frustration with the book is that the covers are not arranged chronologically, which is a missed opportunity, in my opinion, to show the progression of fashion throughout the years. However, I do still love this book for inspiration for my own cover reproductions and to see what couture fashion was popular in each era.
“Grace: 30 Years of Fashion at Vogue”
by Grace Coddington and published by Phaidon Press
This is an absolutely stunning coffee table book. I would never have bought a book like this ($$$) but I actually won it in a contest on Instagram several years ago. I never win contests, so even if I never win another thing ever again in my life, this was a worthwhile prize! If you can find a copy of this one, it is absolutely gorgeous and I love looking through it whenever I want a little bit of fantastical editorial fashion inspiration.
Grace Coddington was the artistic director at Vogue magazine, and this is a compilation of some of her work over the years. She has stories sprinkled throughout the book, sharing details of the shoots and where her inspiration came from, as well as full-page photo spreads. It’s a beautiful look into the world of fashion photography and the large size of the book makes the images all the more beautiful.
There is such a depth and richness in film photography, which makes up the majority of the book, and the creativity of the print medium gives me such a feeling of nostalgia whenever I page through this book. Sadly, many modern fashion spreads seem to have lost that beauty and creativity, so this is a lovely look through history.
“A Matter of Fashion: 20 Iconic Items that Changed the History of Style”
edited by Valeria Manferto De Fabianis and published by White Star Publishers
Gifted to me by a friend, this book highlights 20 iconic fashion moments and how they impacted the fashion world. Some of the items seem rather underwhelming to me, but I do agree that jeans, the trench coat, the Kelly bag and the stiletto are definitely pieces that changed the trajectory of modern fashion. And what do I know? Perhaps the rest of the items I’d never heard of really did radically change the evolution of fashion, like “the cerulean sweater” of The Devil Wears Prada.
This book goes through the history and details of each item, and then features a lot of fashion photography and illustrations that are always enjoyable to look at.
“Vogue: The Shoe” by Harriet Quick & “Vogue: The Jewellery” by Carol Woolton
Published by Conran Octopus
So many of these books are about Vogue, but really it’s such an iconic magazine! These two large coffee table books are part of the Vogue Portfolio Series and are a deep dive into one specific item of fashion: the shoe and jewellery. Featuring images from across the decades, these books highlight a wide variety of styles- from practical to fanciful- and then include information about the designers and other interesting details.
Again, I never tire of looking at beautiful fashion photography from any era. There is another other book in this series, Vogue: The Gown. I saw it for sale secondhand and I didn’t buy it, which I kind of regret, but maybe someday I will come across it again!
“Vintage Fashion: Collecting and Wearing Designer Classics”
published by Carlton Books
I took the dust jacket off of this one, because it was ripped, but I kept the cover image so I just sat it on top for the photo. This book is kind of an overview, or beginners guide, to vintage fashion. It’s got some great vintage fashion photography and interesting information about the designers and iconic styles of each era.
For example, it explains many different movements, from Dior’s New Look silhouettes of the 1950’s to the Youthquake of the 60’s. It also highlights design movements, such as Modernism, Orientalism, and Punk. For each section there is also a page of “Key Looks of the Decade”, which is helpful to get a good overview of a decade.
So those are the six books that I currently have that fall into this category of “editorial style” fashion, and thus concludes this mini series of posts about fashion books. I love fashion books, so I am sure I will add more to my collection as I find them. And, I will share them here too, because it is quite nice to see reviews before you buy!
What are some of your favourite fashion books? Have you paged through any of these titles? Do you have any other good recommendations to check out?
August 26, 2021 @ 7:46 am
I have not seen any of those, but they look like a lovely way to spend an afternoon! I will keep my eye out for them.
The book you mentioned, Grace, reminded me of one called Exhibiting Fashion: Before and After 1971. Cecil Beaton created an exhibit that year at the V & A, and apparently it changed the direction of fashion exhibitions. What I really like about it is the view behind scenes, as to what the inspirations and obstacles were.
August 27, 2021 @ 11:10 pm
That sounds just like the sort of book I’d enjoy! I love behind the scenes peeks! Thanks for the recommendation.
August 26, 2021 @ 7:58 am
I tried to also leave a comment on your post about fashion history books, but no matter where I clicked, I couldn’t get to the comment section.
I have bought a lot of books through Better World Books, and they have all been in good condition. The only problem I had was when I ordered some books from Great Britain through them — the books never arrived and I was told by the British book shop, “Too bad, we don’t track them.” So since then I have only bought books that will be shipped from here in the States, and I have always gotten them.
August 27, 2021 @ 11:12 pm
I have browsed Better World Books, but haven’t made a purchase through them. That’s so sad that you weren’t able to ever get your books 🙁 We will definitely have to keep that in mind for the future!