Tabulous Tomes: Big Books Of Fashion

September 5, 2014

By Tab Byrum

Books are a big deal for me, they always have been and always will be.  I’ve loved books as long as I can remember, my mom has always been a big reader and I’m sure that’s where I get it.  Growing up I’ve always loved being in bookstores and oftentimes I would, and still do, buy books as souvenirs. Mom likes to tell the story of when she picked me up at the end of my first half day of kindergarten I came to the car crying, when she asked me what was wrong I told her that I had been at school one whole day and I still didn’t know how to read.


 Needless to say the next year in first grade I did learn to read and I haven’t stopped since then.  I love collecting books, ranging from novels to coffee table books on a wide range of subjects.  Books are also one of my favorite items to use to decorate, they look smart stacked on a table with a vase of flowers and a lamp, or bookshelves filled with books, nicknacks and artwork.

Since it’s Friday and New York Fashion Week started yesterday, I thought this was the perfect time to take a look at some of my favorite tomes on the subject of fashion and the designers that are known for creating beautiful clothing and accessories.
So, join me today for the first of many editions of Tabulous Tomes, today is books on fashion and great fashion designers.  Enjoy!!!

Ralph Lauren



If there were a king of  American ready to wear fashion, it might very well be Ralph Lauren.  The name Ralph Lauren evokes fun, class, glamour, sports and chic.  He and his companies are know for producing clothing and accessories worn by people the world over as well as as creating beautiful fabrics and decorative accessories for our homes.  This book is full of photos and images of RL clothing and home accessories, many of the pictures taken in Ralph Lauren’s own homes.  It covers the gamut from cowboy chic at the Lauren ranch in Colorado to Great Gatsby glamour at their home on Long Island.  It’s a gorgeous book to be looked at over and over.

Alexander McQueen : Savage Beauty



“Women should look like women, a piece of cardboard has no sexuality”  That’s a quote from the book Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty that was published to coincide with the exhibition of McQueen’s work at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art’s Costume Institute in 2011.  This book is filled with images of clothing created by Alexander McQueen and they are accompanied by quotes from McQueen on fashion and women and the clothes they wear.  We lost Lee Alexander McQueen to sucide in 2010, his fashion house continues and flourishes today under the guidance of his former assistant Sarah Burton.


Chanel : Collections and Creations



Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel may be the most well known name in Fashion.  Madame Chanel was born into poverty, learned to sew in a convent under the tutelage of nuns, started out as a hat maker and made her way into high fashion couture.  This book is glorious with images of Chanel clothing, jewelry and perfume.  There are photos from Chanel ad campaigns and vintage photos of Chanel clothing creations before WWII.  Collections and Creations is a beautiful book and should be owned by anyone that loves fashion or Chanel.


Valentino : Themes and Variations



Valentino Garavani made it onto the world fashion stage in 1962 when he held his first fashion show in Florence and it’s been nothing but success, beautiful clothes and beautiful people for the Italian designer since then.  This book on Valentino chronicles the designers evolution from his beginnings in the late fifties and early sixties up until his retirement with his last collection in Spring 2008.  The clothes are unlike any other and each creation is labeled with the season and year it debuted and what model wore it.  This book is beautiful from cover to cover, documenting the career of one of the world’s truly great designers.

Tom Ford



Tom Ford’s self titled coffee table book is an extravaganza of photos and back story.  The book starts off with an interview with Ford and then evolves into picture after glorious picture of Tom Ford’s creations.  The book is broken down by years, giving a summary of what was going on and what happened in that year, then followed by pictures from the time.  Tom Ford is credited with the turnaround of Gucci, he also became the creative director for the YSL brand after it was acquired by the Gucci Group.  Tom Ford launched is own fashion label in 2006 which is wildly successful today.  This book does an amazing and beautiful job of chronicling the design life of Tom Ford, with photos from print ads full of color and beautiful people.  Over the years Ford has become known for the “raciness” of his ads and photos, some featuring nudity of both men and women.  If you are a fan of Tom Ford and high fashion this book is a must.

Vogue : The Covers



Vogue Magazine first hit news stands and ladies’ bedside tables in December 1892 and since then has been revered as the bible of high fashion.  This book chronicles, not only the evolution of Vogue magazine, but also the changing times from the late 19th century all the way through August 2010.  It’s really a fun book to flip through, seeing all the fashion from decades past and who was and wasn’t put on the covers.  Each decade begins with a write up of what’s hot at the time before launching into the hottest covers from the time.  Awesome  book!!!!

American Fashion Menswear



I can’t let the ladies have all the fun, so I had to include one book for the boys, American Fashion Menswear.  This book put out by Assouline is a celebration of men’s fashion and those who create it.  The jacket description of the book says it’s an effort to be an authority on the evolution of men’s fashion in America, this tome was put out as a combined effort of Assouline publishing house and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.  The book is broken up into sections such as Utility, Sportswear, The Dandy, Hollywood  and several others, with each of these sections focusing on the subject in both pictures and a write up.  I love how the book combines vintage pictures of men wearing said clothes with photos of men in the current incarnation of the look.  This book is great for any man who has a love of clothes and really cares how he looks.  Again, I love back story and American Fashion Menswear tells us where it all came from, whether it’s Levis or Mish cufflinks, it’s all here for you and your man to enjoy.

Madame Grès : Sculptural Fashion



I have to be honest, I was not aware of who Madame Grès was until a few years ago when I heard Tim Gunn speak of her on Project Runway to one of the contestants.  I immediately looked her up and became fascinated by the designer and her look, there’s not a “ton” of information on Madame Grès, so I was very happy to find this book.  Madame Grès was truly an artist and formally trained as a sculpture which is so apparent in her dress designs.  The flow and gathering of the fabric and a definite influence of ancient Greece, Grès also became known for the “cutouts” she used in her designs, the absence of fabric allowing a lady’s skin to show through but still having a sophisticated feel and not tawdry.  Madame Grès was the last of the “big” French fashion houses to embrace creating ready-to-wear lines, she never liked the idea of creating clothes for the masses and referred to it as prostitution.  This book is so much fun to look at, Madame creating dresses for some of the biggest names at the time, Marlene Dietrich, Jackie Kennedy and the Duchess of Windsor.  If you are a lover of fashion, put Madame Grès: Sculptural Fashion on your list.

The Little Dictionary Of Fashion by Christian Dior



First released in 1954, The Little Dictionary Of Fashion was meant to cover all the bases of dressing well for women.  While many of the outfits aren’t worn today the advice is still good, and in this day of flip flops and t-shirts this book should be required reading for anyone over the age of 12.  I  first came across it when Amazon suggested it to me, I bought it for a friend’s daughter but soon ordered my own copy after flipping through it before giving it away.  This book discusses everything from wearing accessories and accents to how to walk gracefully.  How to tie a scarf, and while the hairstyles are different Dior’s discussion on good grooming is great.  This is a fun book as well, with sketch drawings and photos from the 50’s illustrating all the great designers tips.  Great stocking stuffer this Christmas for your little fashionista.

The World According To Karl



Karl Lagerfeld is today the captain of the Chanel ship and Fendi as well as steering his own brand, but who is the man behind the dark glasses with the grey pony tail?  This book gives you a glimpse behind the glasses, it’s full of quotes by the legendary designer as well as fun art to go along with the quotes.  A sample:  “I’m fine living by myself – it’s the ultimate luxury” or “I have no wish to be normal”.  This is a fun book to  read and peruse, not to mention the cool cover art that’s totally made up of the profile of Lagerfeld.


So, there you have it, 10 books on fashion that all fashionistas need to have on their shelves and in their collections.  Let me know what your fave books on fashion are or anything else you want to share.  Have an awesome weekend and enjoy those fashion shows!!!!  

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