Years and years and years ago, I remember gearing up for my first term at fashion college. We were given a list of things we needed to buy, which necessitated a trip to R. D. Franks in Market Place (off Oxford Circus) to stock up on essential books and magazines. (OK, the magazines weren’t essential, but they were a pretty important part of the learning journey of a fledgling fashion illustrator/stylist/writer – RIP R.D. Franks and Borders, where you could spend a good hour or two browsing the latest issues of Italian Vogue, Dutch or Self Service magazine).
And today, I still rely on my ancient fashion reference books. Colin Barnes’ Fashion Illustration and Nicholas Drake’s Fashion Ilustration Today are my illustration bibles, More Dash Than Cash (and the follow up Even More Dash Than Cash) never seem to date, and the Encyclopaedia of Fashion may seem quaint in the days of Google and Wikipedia, but for succinct factual referencing, it’s still the best.
But now for some newer bookshelf additions. The History Of Modern Fashion came out last month and it’s a killer reference book. The authors Daniel James Cole and Nancy Deihl have gone to great lengths to give contextual weight to the history of fashion from 1850 to the 2000s. It’s set out chronologically, and covers the major social, economical and cultural changes of the eras, generously illustrated and meticulously researched. It’s interesting to look at recent history and to note how fast the changes are. This book ends in 2010, touching on the Celine effect, nail art and modern Asian influences. But bloggers and street style are noticeable by their absence – have they really only been mainstream for five years? I guess that’s the speed of fashion for ya. Buy The History of Modern Fashion HERE.
Next, there’s fashion illustrator David Downton’s first monograph, Portraits Of the World’s Most Stylish Women, which features 150 of his elegant brushstroke renderings of everyone from Linda Evangelista to Paloma Picasso. (If you don’t follow him on Insta, go follow now). Buy it HERE.
One for the beauty-philes, Lisa Eldridge’s much anticipated book, Face Paint comes out on October 13th. Lisa is known as a superstar Youtuber, but of course her beauty journey began way back in the 90s as a makeup artist for high fashion brands and magazines. Face Paint is part history book, part lavish inspiration manual, with beautiful photography to lose yourself in. Pre-order it HERE…
There’s seemingly a never-ending trove of material for Cartier books, god knows I have most of them. The latest, Cartier Panthère, published by Assouline is a whopping doorstop of a book that focuses on the dramatic panther jewellery designs that have just celebrated their 100th year. As you’d expect from Assouline, this is a fabulous luxe affair, with huge detailed pictures to make you dizzy with desire (OK, maybe that’s just me). Buy it HERE.
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WORDS: Navaz Batliwalla/Disneyrollergirl