• Tayeeb Khan

Top 10 Fashion Design Books Every Aspiring Fashion Designer Must Read in 2020

Top 10 Fashion Design Books Every Aspiring Fashion Designer Must Read in 2020

I know there are some of you who think that reading is boring. Either because you have been reading text books your whole life, busy binge watching Netflix (Not Judging) or for some other reason. But trust me when I say this, Reading is the most satisfying thing one can ever do. I agree that it’s an acquired taste for most of us – like Sushi. But once you get into it, there is no turning back, in fact you would not want to turn back. All I can say is "Reading is never out of Fashion".


Before we actually start talking about the Top 10 Fashion Design books you as an aspiring Fashion Designer must read, I want both of us – You, the reader and me to be on the same page.

If you are already on the same page as mine, feel free to skip this part and jump to the actual bit. In case you are not, bear with me for this section.


Why Reading Other Fashion Design Books Apart from Text Books is Important:

I know what you are thinking – “I already have been reading so many text books, I do not have time for this and moreover what good can come from reading a book apart from text books”.


Well, it all depends on the kind of books you choose to read. A good book can help you grow as person, help you gain perspective and broad understanding of the subject. It will help you diversify your knowledge & will teach you to keep an open mind. There is a very old saying in Kannada that goes somewhat like this “Desha Sutti Nodu, Kosha Odi Nodu” which when loosely translate means reading books is as good as travelling the world to explore it.


Still don’t see the point in reading books? Cool, read on.


See, the problem with Text books is that though it will give you knowledge about certain topics – It’s still just one book about one subject. Text books are confined by a syllabus and the biggest problem is the fact that most of us read text books with a mentality of passing the exams and not because we want to learn something new. But, when you start reading books outside of your syllabus, you are not reading it because you have to, you are reading it because you want to. This leads you to develop an interest in the field, you learn new things, you broaden the knowledge of the subject.


Everyone in your class is reading the same fashion designing text book as you are. If you just read text books, pass exams and learn how to become a Fashion Designer to some extent, what is the difference between you and others. Unless you are extremely talented or a highly creative individual. Everyone who has made a mark in a particular industry has a habit of rigorous reading and has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. That’s what makes them stand apart and that is what will make you stand apart and achieve big things in life.


Now that I have explained why reading is important, let’s look at what are those top 10 Fashion Designing books that every Fashion Designer must read why are these Fashion Designing books important. Also, let me tell you that this list does not contain books on any of the Indian Fashion Designers, if you were expecting that.

Behold, here it comes.

The list of Top 10 Fashion Design Books:

For those of you who are lazy enough to not read the description of these Fashion Books and just want to know the name of these top 10 Fashion design books, Here is the TL;DR for you.

1. The End of Fashion by Tri Agins

2. The little dictionary of Fashion: A guide to dress sense for every Woman by Christian Dior

3. Fashion - Oxford History of Art by Christopher Breward

4. The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake

5. The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History

6. Gods & Kings by Dana Thomas:

7. Love Style Life by Garance Dore

8. Women in clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and 693 Others

9. The Fashion Designer Survival Guide by Mary Gehlhar

10. Everyday Icon : Michelle Obama & the power of style by Kate Betts

For those of you who wants to know what the book is about before delving into it, here is the brief description of each of the above mentioned Fashion Design Books.

1. The End of Fashion by Teri Agins

In order to understand a field inside out, you need to first understand the inception and the history of it. Without knowing how something came to be, you can’t exactly know what it is today and what it can be. Same goes with Fashion Industry as well. There was a time when fashion was defined and was confined only to the elitist of the people.


The transition of Fashion Industry from elitist focused to masses is one important aspect of the Industry that everyone must know. The End Of Fashion does a wonderful job of explaining that transition along with the lessons about the history of Fashion. Tery Agins – the author of The End of Fashion – does an amazing job of explaining the Whats, Hows and Whys of the Fashion Industry.


The End of Fashion without a doubt should be on the top of your list of Fashion Books.

2. The little dictionary of Fashion: A guide to dress sense for every Woman by Christian Dior:

Every Industry has some trends which becomes so engraved into the industry that they start becoming rules and after certain point, they becomes unbreakable laws.


In this Fashion Book written by the founder of one of the biggest Fashion Houses – Dior; Christian Dior provides you with some of his timeless fashion tips & rules that has helped frame the Fashion Industry as it is today.


Not just that, the book also provides various tips on how to dress for various vacations as well. The little dictionary of fashion will be a fun fashion book for you to read.

3. Fashion - Oxford History of Art by Christopher Breward:

If you are looking for something small yet insightful to kick off reading, this is the Fashion Book you should go for. Fashion – Oxford History of Art by Christopher Breward explores Fashion as a cultural phenomenon. It takes you as far back as 150 years into Fashion.


From Haute Couture, High Street, and developing fabric technology to such stars of the fashion heavens as Coco Chanel, Giorgio Armani, and Alexander McQueen, Breward explores territories far beyond style and function. He sees more than just an industry, giving voice to the larger cultural phenomenon fashion has become.



4. The Beautiful Fall by Alicia Drake:

This is one of the most interesting books in this whole list of Fashion Designing Books. The beautiful fall takes you to Paris during 1970’s and explores the careers of two of the most influential Fashion Designers - Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.


Yves Saint Laurent & Karl Lagerfeld were two friends who goes onto become each other’s biggest rivals as their fame & power grew.


The life of these two friends turned rivals have been written down in such detail by Alicia Drake that, in 2006 Lagerfeld sued Alicia Drake for publishing so many personal details about his life.



5. The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History

If you are a fan of Fiction, The battle of Versailles is a non-fiction which is better than any fiction you might have read. Have you ever heard of a catwalk battle on the runways? Well, the battle of Versailles is one of those. The show which took place in the palace of Versailles in the year 1973 transformed Fashion as an industry. The show pitted French designers against American Designers.


Robin Givhan tells this tale of In-Fighting, Outsized Egos & other difficulties faced by American Designers in a marvelous fashion. This book is a must read for every aspiring Fashion Designer.




6. Gods & Kings by Dana Thomas:

If you thought of Exodus: Gods & Kings as soon as you saw the name, I am with you. But this one is completely different than that. There is no relation to the Book & Exodus what so ever.


Alexander McQueen & John Galliano were two well known names in the Fashion Industry during 90’s. They were at the peak of their career with two different yet most important & successful Fashion Houses. McQueen owned Givenchy while Galliano owned Dior.


But, as they say every good things comes to an end and so did it for these two Fashion icons when they encountered tragedy in 2010 (McQueen) and 2011 (Galliano). I don’t want to give away any spoilers if you already don’t know anything about it but Gods & Kings is intense, knowledgeable and is worth all your time.

7. Love Style Life by Garance Dore:

Love, Style, Life by Garance Dore takes you through the journey of the Author as blogger who captivated millions of readers around the globe with her incredible style of storytelling. If you ever wanted to be a Fashion Blogger, this book is a must read for you.


8. Women in clothes:

Women in clothes gives you insights about how our dressing and the clothes we wear shapes our lives and the lives around us. Though the main authors of the book are Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton, the book is an amalgamation of opinions from ever kind of women from every religion and every demographic from around the world; Be it single, Married, young, old.

9. The Fashion Designer Survival Guide by Mary Gehlhar:

This is not just a Fashion Book, its all about the business in Fashion. From this book, you will learn about how develop your label from scratch. From creating a business plan to sourcing material and getting your designs on Runway show, It talks about every step involved in creating your own label and making a mark in the Glamorous world of Fashion.

10. Everyday Icon : Michelle Obama & the power of style by Kate Betts:

Fashion in Politics and Fashion in media are two of the most talked about subjects. Everyday Icon explores these two subjects. The fact that this book explores the style of the former first lady Michelle Obama shows that this book is written to uncover how Politics and Fashion are intertwined. Writing at the crossroads of politics and fashion, Kate Betts explains why Michelle Obama’s style matters, and how she has helped liberate a generation of women from the false idea that style and substance are mutually exclusive.

So, that’s the end of the list. Now that you have the list and also time to read all these given the situation due to Pandemic, let me know which one of these Fashion Books will you be reading first. Also, I would love to know which of these Fashion Designing Books were you most intrigued by.

If you are already an avid reader and think that I have missed out one of your favorite fashion design books, put the name in comments section so that others could benefit from it.

PS: During my research for these books, I came across at least 50 books which would help you grow as a Fashion Designer. But I chose the best 10 Fashion Design Books out of those to keep this post short and readable. If you want the list of those 50 fashion designing book, let me know and I will upload the list.

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