Love Fashion? Read These. Hate Fashion? Read Them Anyway.

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Love Fashion? Read These. Hate Fashion? Read Them Anyway.

Fashion is often seen as superficial and frivolous. Not to get all Devil Wears Prada here, but as a fashion lover, I can assure you there’s more to fashion than just “blue steel.” These reads will take you deeper into how impactful fashion can be, the nitty gritty logistics of creating a fashion show and even how history influenced the perfume industry. If you’re a fashion novice, this selection of books will hopefully enlighten you. If you’re a longtime fashion fan, these will likely feed your already flourishing infatuation.

Paris: Through a Fashion Eye by Megan Hess
Planning a trip to Paris? Hess, a fashion illustrator, created the chicest guide. She compiled a list of her favorite places to eat, shop, sleep and “play,” with accompanying illustrations (her own, of course). A large portion of this book is understandably dedicated to the most fashionable shops (think Chanel and Balmain), and hotels with gorgeous views of the Eiffel Tower. While in Paris, you must eat and drink. Hess features Angelina, a Parisian teahouse that Coco Chanel frequented and the Bar Le Dokhan’sParis’s first ever champagne bar. Bonus: Bar Le Dokhan's elevator is made from a vintage monogrammed Louis Vuitton garment trunk.

Fashion Scents: Style and Perfume from Chanel to Madonna by Nicoletta Polla-Mattiot 
This gorgeous book has taken the “history through perfumes” rather than the “history of perfumes” approach, and includes photographs of vintage perfume bottles and advertisements. Organized by decade, Fashion Scents explains what was historically and culturally relevant at the time, and how it influenced how and what perfumes were being produced. Each chapter also spotlights an iconic perfume from that particular decadeChanel No. 5, for example, which was released in 1921. Bonus: Have you ever wondered why scents can trigger memories from years ago? This book explains that, too.

Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith
If you’re looking for someone to envy, look no further than Charlotte Smith. Smith inherited her grandmother’s vintage clothing collection of more than 3,000 pieces, most of which were gifted to her grandmother from family and friends since her teenage years. Each donor told her the story of the previous owner of each pieceso, in essence, she was not just collecting clothing, she was collecting “springboards to history.” This book is a collection of over 130 of those stories, complete with illustrations of each dress. Each story is only a few paragraphs long, and gives a snapshot into the previous owner’s life, including Smith’s grandmother, a survivor of the Titanic sinking, and the daughter-in-law of President Taft.

Tales from the Back Row: An Outsider’s View from Inside the Fashion Industry by Amy Odell
This is possibly one of the most lighthearted fashion biographies I’ve read. Odell, a fashion journalist, shares snippets of her growth within the industry, kicking off her career with barely any fashion knowledge outside of being a Project Runway fan, to now being invited to exclusive events and after-parties. Odell’s stories are recounted in chapters entitled “When Rachel Zoe Sent Me a Tree” and “The Time I Refrained from Barfing on My Idol, Anna Wintour.” However, she describes these tales as “neither mockery nor outright tell-alls” despite the humorous chapter titles. She tells her stories in such a way that you feel like you’re speaking with an old friend and she makes the impenetrable fashion industry seem almost approachable. 

Guide to Producing a Fashion Show by Judith C. Everett
This book is literally a guide to producing a fashion showit reminds me of a textbook you would purchase for a school course. Each chapter begins with objectives and ends with discussion questions. But don’t let the academic feel turn you off. Everett has broken down every aspect of a fashion show into incredible detail, from the role of retail stores to how to hold model casting calls to securing venues. Maybe you’re not personally holding a fashion show, but it’s interesting to read just how much is involved in the process.