And they’ll look oh so pretty on your bookshelf…
There’s something wonderfully indulgent about a weighty, stylish hardback. It’s the ultimate treat. But, whilst it’s tempting to leave a glossy selection sprawled on our coffee table like Coco Chanel’s salon, the best fashion books are more than just a stylish adornment. They’ve got to do more than just give us a pretty #shelfie moment on Instagram. The best fashion catalogues give us a unique insight into a world we often admire from afar yet rarely get the inside scoop on.
So whether you’re in need of a fact about Pierre Balmain or feel like spending the afternoon sprawled out on the sofa, swooning over photographs of haute couture, these coffee table books are the perfect fashion finds and make great gifts for book lovers.
Fashion’s Front Line: Fashion Show Photography from the Runway to Backstage by Nilgin Yusuf
If you’ve ever been to a runway show, you’ll remember the euphoria, music and flashing lights as the crowd gear up for the showcase of a brand’s new collection. If you haven’t had the chance to attend one (which, let’s face it, is most of us), then you definitely need this book in your life. This book celebrates images from the celeb FROW, as well as unseen backstage snaps, taken by catwalk photographer Niall McInerney.
Paris Haute Couture by Olivier Saillard
This is a visually stunning and informative history of haute couture fashion in Paris, taking us chronologically through its fascinating story. From Paul Poiret to Balenciaga, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and beyond to Christian Lacroix and Jean-Paul Gaultier – every era is covered here. What truly sells this book are the gloriously glossy images, photographs and sketches. Paris Haute Couture is a glorious thing to own and hold and marvel at.
Chanel: Collections and Creations by Danièle Bott
Chanel addict? Who isn’t. This is a lust-have for all fans. Charting the history of Coco’s career back in the 1920s, this beautiful book explains how she made her mark in the industry as well as celebrating the brand’s stunning creations now. Opening it’s doors, this book shares the House of Chanel’s private archives.
Self Portrait in a Velvet Dress: Frida’s Wardrobe by Carlos Phillips Olmed and Magdalena Rosenzweig
Clothes weren’t just clothes to Frida: they expressed both her artistic prowess and a deep cultural love for her country. Surprisingly,this is the first book about Frida Kahlo that solely focuses on her phenomenal wardrobe. It’s a clever undertaking: 95 of Frida’s newly restored clothes are displayed alongside archive photographs of the Mexican icon wearing them. It’s a breathtaking book that is a must-buy for any Frida fan.
Dior By Avedon by Jacqueline De Ribes, Justine Picardie and Olivier Saillard
We reckon this is essential for any coffee date with your girlfriends. FYI, you might want to host it at your place because this is one seriously heavy hardback to lug around in your tote. With 206 pages of incredible images taken by photographer Richard Avon, welcome to Dior heaven.
Alexander McQueen by Claire Wilcox
His retrospective was the most popular exhibition the V&A have ever staged. 480,000 tickets and a whopping 21-week run. Flick through this imposing catalogue – that accompanied the blockbuster show – and you will immediately see why. Featuring 28 essays by fashion critics who know their stuff, 440 images, backstage portraits and previously unpublished sketches, Claire Wilcox’s book is a thrilling exploration of a fearless designer we lost too soon.
The Fashion Book (New Edition) by Phaidon
Whether you’re a novice to the world of fashion or an expert on the subject, this is your go-to for a quick, easy and up-to-date lowdown. An A-Z of everyone you need to know in the industry from emerging photographers to new designers, it’s right at your fingertips with this glossy bible.
Tom Ford: 10 Years by Graydon Carter and Bridget Foley
Any fashion devotee should own this monochrome hardback on their bookshelf. It’s a fascinating insight into the world of a renowned fashion designer, notably looking at his time as creative director for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent. With images by Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, Steven Meisel and Terry Richardson, this is a picture perfect package.
Words by Ashleigh Houlton