6 Fashion Design books for inspiration

At a glance, fashion seems superficial, but looking just a little deeper, you can see that it's more than a pretty dress on a pretty girl. Fashion is serious business and has historically captured the Zeitgeist of every era. On the catwalks of the fashion capitals and on the streets of cities and towns across the world, fashion says who we are and where we're at. 

Some of us have a life-long love affair with fashion, with every clothing and accessory item having a specific purpose, expressing something fundamental about ourselves. So, who shows us how to do that? 

For the avid fashion lover, there is nothing more inspirational than a book about the art of haute couture or the work and times of celebrated fashion designers. For someone interested in fashion design, fashion books are an essential resource. Here is a list of some of our favorite books to inspire you. 


1.The little dictionary of fashion

No one begins a fashion career without first reading this iconic fashion design book by Christian Dior. This book is an adventure into all topics about fashion and the essential fashion terms a fashion designer should know. The information in this book, written more than 50 years ago, is still applicable today. The drawings and photos perfectly illustrate the timeless principles of simplicity and good taste as favored by Dior. 

The little dictionary of Fashion by Christian Dior/ dior.com.


2. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Another fashion icon is British fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Widely regarded as the most influential and imaginative designer of his generation, Alexander McQueen is an undeniable example of the fact that fashion is not simply a frivolous pastime. In his work, Alexander McQueen tackled race, class, sexuality, religion, and the environment. 

The book will give you a comprehensive overview of the designer's work and career, including images of his most iconic designs, his runway extravaganzas, his mastery of haute couture, and his use of technological innovation.

Exhibition - Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty - ©Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ vam.ac.uk.


3.In Vogue: An Illustrated History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine

In Vogue is more than just a book about fashion; it encompasses fashion, culture, art, photography and media. It features the work of some of the world's top fashion designers, artists, cover illustrators, photographers and writers. In Vogue also traces the history, development and influence of this iconic style magazine, complete with first-person accounts, interviews and stunning images.

It's a fascinating look into the makings of a magazine of this stature, giving a glimpse into editorial meetings and the planning of the pages of Vogue. This well-researched book is worthy of any serious fashion scholar's attention.

Vogue: An Illustrated History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine by Norberto Angeletti & Alberto Oliva/ amazon.com.


4. The fashion designer survival guide: start and run your own fashion business

For fashion designers who plan to make a living in fashion design, this book is an essential guide. This handbook covers various aspects of designing and manufacturing clothes and includes essential information on creating a business plan, where to find the best materials, and how to manage production and marketing. You will also learn what it takes to become a successful runway show producer. The book features advice from successful fashion designers such as Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Diane von Furstenberg and more.


5. A practical guide to sustainable fashion

This is a timely book for an age when we are all aware of the environmental impact of fashion, especially fast fashion. The book by Alison Gwilt contains important information about sustainable fashion practices that fledgling designers can't ignore. 

The book explains current models of fashion design and production and provides instructions on how to consider the potential impact of a garment during its design, production, use and disposal. It goes into detail on less harmful techniques, including low-impact textiles techniques, zero-waste techniques, upcycling, sustainable repair and maintenance techniques as well as closed-loop design systems. 

A practical Guide to Sustainable Fashion by Alisson Gwilt/ Bloomsbury.com.


6. The end of fashion: how marketing changed the clothing business forever

This book is about the end of high fashion produced by world-famous fashion houses, not the end of fashion, as such. It's an important book for any aspiring fashion designer who needs to gain a perspective and understanding of retail and fashion. The book sketches the far-reaching effects of marketing on the fashion industry which in effect, has put the consumer in the fashion driving seat. This well-researched book starts by covering classic designers like Dior and Chanel and moves on to the more casual designs of people like Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. The writer also goes into the nuts and bolts of large department stores and why their fashion departments have failed.

The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever by Teri Agins/ harpercollins.com.


Keep reading about fashion design trends, ideas and tips. 

If you are looking to learn the basics or take your fashion skills to the next level, have a look at our fashion design courses.

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Written by: Eduardo Rios

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