6 Fashion Books Style Mavens Won't Be Able To Put Down

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Day-to-day, our idea of fashion is often reduced to what we're wearing and current trends. But there are many more sides to the fashion industry than many know. That's why true style aficionados love diving into the different facets surrounding this business and the past, present, and future of fashion.

Fashion literature has long been among the best ways to get the inside scoop on favorite designers, the brands you love, and the history of an industry with its fair share of controversy. The fascinating world of fashion books helps shed light on the glamorous, exciting, and sometimes devastating lives of prominent fashion figures. Stories like "House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed" have even made their way to the big screen and earned accolades.

With so many eccentric icons in the fashion world, there's no shortage of stories to tell and books to read. And the more you know about the lives behind these brands and figures, the more respect and knowledge you'll find about the industry they helped shape. For starters, here are six fashion books every style maven should put on their to-read list.

Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture

Probably everyone has heard the name Christian Dior. Dior has become synonymous with luxury, beauty, and elegance. However, little is known about a key member of this fashion family: Christian Dior's beloved sister, Catherine Dior.

In "Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture" by Justine Picardie, you get to know more about Catherine, a young woman who would come to inspire Christian Dior throughout his designs and was the muse behind the popular Miss Dior fragrances. According to Macmillan Publishers, "One woman informed Dior's vision more than any other: his sister, Catherine, a Resistance fighter, concentration camp survivor, and cultivator of rose gardens who inspired Dior's most beloved fragrance, Miss Dior. Yet the story of Catherine's remarkable life — so different from her famous brother's — has never been told, until now."

While "Miss Dior" may not be filled with the glamorous life of the runway, it's a detailed book about a fashion figure who, in her time, didn't receive the credit or acknowledgment she deserved. In this book, the light shines on Catherine Dior, a remarkable woman whose influence on Christian Dior helped make the brand into what it is today.


It's rare to find one person who is so globally known as a style trailblazer, fearless leader, and charismatic persona as Diana Vreeland. Serving as a fashion writer and editor for decades, Vreeland was a force to be reckoned with in the industry. With an enigmatic and astute personality that gained her a reputation for the outrageous, she worked at and led some of the most highly-recognized publications on the market — including Harper's Bazaar and Vogue (via Britannica). In D.V., we get to hear directly from Vreeland as she retells the story of how she became an icon.

Speaking to Vogue, Diana's grandson, Alexander Vreeland, recalls the strong personality of his grandmother. ​​"She felt very strongly that she was a creature of her own creation and I think that is a wonderful message today for people to be who they want to be. And I think that's how she saw her own life."

Although there are many publications and even a Netflix documentary on Diana, there's no better way to see her perspective than through the pages of "D.V.". Because, in the end, no one is more capable of encapsulating Diana Vreeland than Diana Vreeland herself.

The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir

In the fashion industry, it's not always easy to find icons who command respect from every point of the industry. One of these rare figures was André Leon Talley. It's no wonder, then, that after his death in January 2022, Talley was celebrated by worldwide tributes in fashion circles and beyond (via USA Today). This included heartfelt farewells from other fashionistas, such as supermodel Naomi Campbell and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

In Talley's book, "The Chiffon Trenches: A Memoir," readers get the privilege of following him on his journey from a young boy growing up in the American South to becoming one of the most highly-respected people in fashion. This tale is a first-hand account of the many obstacles this former creative director of Vogue faced to get his due respect and opportunities.

According to Penguin Random House, "At once ruthless and empathetic, this engaging memoir tells with raw honesty the story of how André not only survived the brutal style landscape but thrived — despite racism, illicit rumors, and all the other challenges of this notoriously cutthroat industry — to become one of the most renowned voices and faces in fashion." While the industry has come a long way since Talley first started, "The Chiffon Trenches" is a vital read to remember fashion's roots and realize how much work is still left to be done.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Thanks to the rise of fast fashion, it's easy to pop into a store and grab a garment at an extremely low price. Stores have taken advantage of this fast fashion formula by producing more trendy clothes at a low cost and fast rate. But this vicious cycle of fast fashion at a low expense is coming at a high cost elsewhere. As consumers continue to buy more and more, clothes that no longer fit current trends are often disregarded and thrown away. This leads to an incredible amount of waste (via Earth.org). From human rights issues to environmental issues, this cycle is anything but cheap, and some sustainability advocates are adamant that consumers should ditch fast fashion pronto.

In her book, author Elizabeth Cline dives deep into the economy of fast fashion. "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion" helps open readers' eyes by detailing how this mass production of low-cost clothing is causing a disaster on many fronts. Cline lets the readers know the true cost of buying trend after trend.

The New York Times presents data that in the 2010s, the United States only made around two percent of the clothing purchased domestically, versus 50% in the '90s. As part of her narrative, Cline explains where our clothes are now coming from and why fast fashion has become a huge environmental catastrophe. While it may be shocking, "Overdressed" is a must-read to make better shopping choices as you build a social consciousness around your wardrobe.

Africa: The Fashion Continent

The fashion industry has made strides toward creating a more diverse and inclusive space, but there's more to be done (via the London College of Contemporary Arts). This includes better sharing the spotlight with non-Western fashion designers. Fortunately, author Emmanuelle Courrèges is using the power of fashion literature to showcase brilliant and beautiful designs from oft-overlooked parts of the globe.

In "Africa: The Fashion Continent", Courrèges shares the innovative work of designers, bloggers, makeup artists, hairstylists, and many more. In her book, Courrèges encourages readers to take a look at how the changing African fashion industry is becoming more revolutionary and taking back its voice. But while admiring the many up-and-coming creatives detailed in this book, it's also essential to acknowledge the fashion industry's ongoing struggles with racism, stereotypes, and cultural appropriation. Speaking to Women's Wear Daily, research fellow Dr. Benedetta Morsiani specifically calls out how Western designers receive praise for African-inspired designs while actual African designers are left out of the conversation.

Enter the importance of this fashion read. As Rizzoli describes Courrèges' work, "Gain new perspective on the vibrant and innovative world of contemporary African fashion design, bursting with fresh creativity and free from reductive stereotypes." Not only is it easy to get mesmerized by the beautiful designs and artwork displayed in this book, but it provides an essential opportunity to start a conversation on how the fashion industry can open and expand even more.

The United States of Fashion: A New Atlas of American Style

It used to be that major metropolitan cities like New York were the only place to be if you wanted to get into fashion. In "The United States of Fashion: A New Atlas of American Style," Vogue editors break down that barrier and dismantle it to allow anyone in the United States to have a space in fashion. While this attractive book can simply serve as a beautiful coffee table piece, it's also a great way to observe the current state of fashion nationwide.

Taking place post-lockdown, "The United States of Fashion" showcases how the U.S. is filled with creatives all over the country. "It used to be that if you were a young designer, you needed to come to the biggest city and the biggest stage to find your customers and start your business," Anna Wintour says in the book's foreword (via Vogue). Now, post-pandemic, our view is shifting. As Wintour observes, "Who makes the best beaded bag or the must-have boot? Perhaps it's someone in your hometown." Like the Vogue editors behind this book, many have had to rethink fashion since COVID-19 struck. This book serves as a reminder that it's not so much where you are located, but how you view fashion that matters.