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Source4Style recently put together a list of the top 5 Fashion books of all time.  I am sharing it here so you can one or more from the list to your must read list.

From de la Renta to McQueen, here are Source4Style’s top five design books of all time. Place them in prime position on the nightstand to promote sweet fashion dreaming or high away on the mantel piece for others to observe from a distance.

1. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Alexander McQueen was deemed one of the most influential, imaginative, and forward designers of his generation, challenging fashion conventions and expanding ideas about race, class, sexuality, religion, and the environment. This book, about the designer’s life, covers the full length of McQueen’s career; from the start of his little label to the successes of his complete London house in Clerkenwell. Woven among the content are pictures of his most iconic and radical designs. This includes his understanding of Savile Row tailoring, haute couture, and technology, which he used to remain innovative and unpredictable when it came to materials. There are details of his collection make-up and features from the runway, from installations to performance art. But, unlike the confrontational designs drawn and stitched by McQueen, there is nothing questionable about owning this piece of fashion design history in print.

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2. Diane von Furstenberg: The Woman I Wanted to Be

“I want every woman to know that she can be the woman she wants to be.” – DVF.

This is the mantra of Diane von Furstenburg, as relayed in her autobiography The Woman I Wanted to Be. The designer is one of the most admired and sought after women in American fashion history. A Belgium-born former princess, von Furstenberg made it big with her iconic v-shaped wrap dress (formed by wrapping one side across the other, and attached ties that wrap around the back at the waist).

In the book, she reflects on her life, opening up about her family and career. More than this, she talks about building a global brand, and devoting herself to empowering other women. And even writing.

Here is an excerpt: “I started my adult life at 22, married a prince, had two children by the time I was 24, and a successful financial life by 30…My 30s were my best years. I was still young but felt grown-up, lived an adventurous life, raised my children, and ran a business. The 40s were harder. My children went off to boarding school and college; I sold my business. I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. I started to question my own style…Things got better when I hit 50. I went back to work, creating a new studio environment and repositioning my brand. I was again the woman I wanted to be – engaged and engaging.”

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3. Oscar de la Renta: Style, Inspiration and Life


American designer Oscar de la Renta and his recent passing saddened the fashion world. So it is with great pleasure we recommend this book. Launching his label back in 1965, de la Renta was one of the first American couturiers, crafting lavishly long dresses with complex bodices in romantic opulence. In 2000, he ventured into accessories and leathergoods, crowning his design achievements. From 1973 to 1976, he was Chairman of the CFDA and creative director of Balmain from 1993 to 2002.

The new book from Abrams (which comes with a little note from Anna Wintour) reawakens de la Renta’s journey in pictures. Covering four decades of fashion, the edition includes the designer’s own personal photos and some unseen documents as well.


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4. Dior: The Legendary Images


“Built on a strong aesthetic and cultural foundation, the Dior collections naturally give rise to a body of photographic work that is in harmony with the distinguishing characteristics of the House itself. In the best of such photographs, the photographer not only interprets the work by placing the model in a scene and a role that fits the dress she wears, he also communicates and amplifies the couturier’s vision.” –  Florence Müller


Tracing Dior’s history – from Christian Dior’s childhood home, Granville, to the maison’s conversion into a museum on the designer’s life – luxury publisher Rizzoli has created Dior: Images en Légende.

The book looks at the relationship between Dior and photography, as shot via the lens of some of the world’s biggest photographers. Curated by fashion historian, Florence Müller, more than 200 photographs are inside – from memorable press images to behind-the-scenes shoots. Shots come from the cameras of Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Peter Lindbergh and Helmut Newton.


5. The House of Worth: Portrait of an archive

Couturier to the Edwardian Downtown Abbey types, Charles Worth was a British born, Paris-based designer who launched his own couture house in 1858. Regarded as the founding father of haute couture, Worth’s visionary approach to fashion and business changed industry from the 1850s onwards – creating silhouettes unseen.

Seasonal fashion is also thought to be his doing, as Worth’s collections changed over the course of the year – summer and winter dependencies driving women to his store twice a year.

With color illustrations and some 300 photographs from the House’s own fashion archives, the London’s Victoria & Albert Museum has curated a book of 176 pages: from the history of Worth’s first Paris salon to now.

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Meet The Author

Benjamin Fitzgerald

Contributor at Source4Style

Fashion journalist based in Australia, Benjamin covers the latest developments in the global design world – from runway shows to window displays.
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