Chic Reads: Fashion in Fiction and NonFiction

With the start of fall, we are entering into a new season weather wise, and also in the world of fashion and dress.  Fashion Week and the Met Gala happen are two of the big fall fashion events in New York.

In keeping with the spirit of the season, here are some fashion themed fiction and nonfiction works that have stories and characters set in the fashion industry.  

From historical fiction novels to contemporary reads, and biographies of fashion designers, you will find stories that will immerse you in a world of glamour and style. You will get glimpses into the highly creative and competitive world of the fashion industry filled with outsize glamor, drama, and dynamic personalities. 

They should surely make for both chic reads and a stylish nightstand!

Fiction

The Chanel Sisters : A Novel by Judithe Little

Raised by pious nuns, Antoinette, the younger sister of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, escapes to Paris, where her shared effort to launch a fashion brand is challenged by discriminating conventions and the horrors of World War I.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Landing a coveted position as the assistant to a prominent fashion magazine’s editor, Andrea Sachs immerses herself in the office’s appearance-driven culture and her employer’s idiosyncratic demands in the hopes of launching her own career.

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

Returning to her small Australian town after decades abroad mastering the art of dressmaking, Tilly begins making articles of clothing that arouse competition and envy in town, but it soon becomes clear that Tilly’s mind is set on revenge.

Fall From Grace : A Novel by Danielle Steel

Sydney Wells’s perfect life with her wealthy, devoted husband vanishes when he dies suddenly in an accident. Widowed at forty-nine, she discovers he has failed to include her in his will. With Andrew’s vicious daughters in control of his estate, and no home or money, Sydney finds a job in fashion, despite her own designer daughters’ warnings. Naïve, out of her element, and alone in a world of shady international deals and dishonest people, she is set up by her boss and finds herself faced with criminal prosecution.

Fashion Victim by Sam Baker

When an up-and-coming designer is killed and the cause listed as accidental, Annie Anderson, an investigative journalist-turned-style magazine-guru, plunges into the shadowy underworld of fashion in search of the killer.

#Fashionvictim : A Novel by Amina Akhtar

Fashion editor Anya St. Clair is on the verge of greatness. Her wardrobe is to die for. Her social media is killer. And her career path is littered with the bodies of anyone who got in her way. She’s worked hard to get where she is, but she doesn’t have everything. Not like Sarah Taft. Anya’s obsession sits one desk away. Beautiful, stylish, and rich, she was born to be a fashion world icon. From her beach-wave blonde hair to her on-trend nail art, she’s a walking editorial spread. And Anya wants to be her friend. Her best friend. Her only friend. But when Sarah becomes her top competition for a promotion, Anya’s plan to win her friendship goes into overdrive. 

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes

Discovering that her young former assistant is plotting to steal her job and transform their fashion magazine into an app, editor-in-chief Imogen Tate is challenged to find her inner geek to save her career and the magazine.

The Last Collection : A Novel Of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel

A widowed American teacher visiting 1938 Paris accepts an art job under influential designer Elsa Schiaparelli before being caught up in an intense rivalry between her employer and Coco Chanel.

The New Girl : A Novel by Harriet Walker

Glamorous Margot Jones is the fashion editor at glossy magazine Haute. Pregnant with her first child, Margot’s carefully curated life is the object of other women’s envy–who wouldn’t want her successful career, loving husband, beautiful house, and stylish wardrobe? Maggie, a freelance journalist, certainly knows she doesn’t measure up. But when she gets the temp job covering Margot’s maternity leave, Maggie seizes the chance to live a flashier life–even if it’s only for a few months. 

The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron

An haute couture dressmaker in 1939 Paris joins the Resistance during the occupation and uses her skills to infiltrate the Nazi elite, sewing for them and collecting secrets at their glamorous headquarters in the Hôtel Ritz.

 Shoulder Bags And Shootings by Dorothy Howell

L.A. fashionista Haley Randolph just spent two weeks in Europe with her boyfriend Ty Cameron, owner of Holt’s Department Store. Life would be perfect if she could just get her hands on the new Sinful handbag–and if she could discover how her nemesis Tiffany Markham ended up dead in her trunk.

Sisters Of The Resistance : A Novel Of Catherine Dior’s Paris Spy Network by Christine Wells

Set in the thick of the Paris Resistance movement during WWII, this exciting novel tells of the deep involvement of Catherine Dior, the sister of fashion designer Christian Dior, and two sisters who risked their lives to support her efforts.

Nonfiction

AlexanderMcQueen : Blood Beneath The Skin by Andrew Wilson

The first definitive biography of the iconic, notoriously private British fashion designer Alexander McQueen explores the connections between his dark work and even darker life.

American Dreamer : My Life In Fashion & Business by Tommy Hilfiger

Few designers have stayed on top of changing trends the way Tommy Hilfiger has. Fewer still have left such an indelible mark on global culture. Since designing his first collection of “classics with a twist” three decades ago, Hilfiger has been synonymous with all-American style–but his destiny wasn’t always so clear. In this tale of grit and glamour, setbacks and comebacks, business and pop culture icon Hilfiger shares his extraordinary life story for the first time.

Betsey: A Memoir by Betsey Johnson

A memoir by the internationally famous fashion designer and style icon features her candid memories of the fashion and downtown scene in the 60s and how she started her own business from the ground up after designing successfully for multiple other companies. It is richly illustrated with many of Betsey’s  landmark clothes, fashion sketches, and personal photos.

The Chiffon Trenches : A Memoir by André Leon Talley

Discover what truly happens behind the scenes in the world of high fashion in this detailed, storied memoir from style icon, bestselling author, and former Vogue creative director André Leon Talley. Talley’s engaging memoir tells the story of how he not only survived but thrived–despite racism, illicit rumors, and all the other challenges of this notoriously cutthroat industry–to become one of the most legendary voices and faces in fashion.

Dapper Dan : Made in Harlem : A Memoir by Daniel R. Day

With his eponymous store on 125th Street in Harlem, Dapper Dan pioneered high-end streetwear in the early 1980s, remixing classic luxury-brand logos into his own flamboyant designs. But before reinventing fashion, he was a hungry boy with holes in his shoes, a teen who daringly gambled drug dealers out of their money, a young man in a prison cell who found nourishment in books, and, finally, a designer who broke barriers to outfit a whos-who of music, sport, and crime world celebrities in looks that went on to define an era. 

Dressed In Dreams : A Black Girl’s Love Letter To The Power Of Fashion by Tanisha C. Ford

A professor and pop-culture observer finds insight behind the statement, “clothes are never just garments.For Ford and her generation of black women who came of age in the 1980s and ’90s, born to parents who embraced the civil rights and Black Is Beautiful movements, certain garments carried cultural import. In a narrative that progresses by discrete, chronological chapters, the author presents a kind of memoir of her life through certain iconic looks that she incorporated over the years, creating through hairstyle, clothes, and accessories a “powerful social skin.” 

Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham

A posthumous memoir encapsulates the momentous life of an eccentric fashion icon.

For Bill Cunningham, New York City was the land of freedom, glamour, and, above all, style. Growing up in a lace-curtain Irish suburb of Boston, secretly trying on his sister’s dresses and spending his evenings after school in the city’s chicest boutiques, Bill dreamed of a life dedicated to fashion. But his desires were a source of shame for his family, and after dropping out of Harvard, he had to fight them tooth-and-nail to pursue his love.

Fashion Is Freedom: How A Girl From Tehran Broke The Rules To Change Her World by Tala Raassi

The inspiring true story of how courage, a dream, and some needle and thread can change a life forever…Since she was young, Tala Raassi knew her fate lay in fashion. But growing up in her beloved homeland of Iran, a woman can be punished for exposing her hair in public, let alone wearing the newest trends. Despite strict regulations, Tala developed a keen sense of style in backroom cafes and secret parties. She never imagined her behavior would land her in prison, or bring the cruel sting of a whip for the crime of wearing a mini-skirt. Tala takes us on a journey that crosses the globe, from Colombia to Miss Universe, and inspires women everywhere to be fearless…

Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington

 Grace Coddington’s extraordinary talent and fierce dedication to her work as creative director of Vogue made her an international icon. Grace describes her early career as a model, working with such world-class photographers as David Bailey and Norman Parkinson, before she stepped behind the camera to become a fashion editor at British Vogue in the late 1960s. Here she began creating the fantasy “travelogues” that would become her trademark. In 1988 she joined American Vogue, where her breathtakingly romantic and imaginative fashion features, a sampling of which appear in this book, have become instant classics.

Mademoiselle Coco Chanel And The Pulse of History by Rhonda K. Garelick

Coco Chanel transformed forever the way women dressed. A bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume is sold every three seconds. Arguably, no other individual has had a deeper impact on the visual aesthetic of the world. But how did a poor orphan become a global icon of both luxury and everyday style? How did she develop such vast, undying influence? And what does our ongoing love of all things Chanel tell us about ourselves? These are the mysteries that Garelick unravels in Mademoiselle.

Naturally Tan : A Memoir by Tan France

In this heartfelt, funny, and touching memoir, one of the stars of Netflix’s Emmy Award-winning smash-hit Queer Eye reveals how an Englishman raised in a traditionally religious home became a fashion icon — and the first openly gay, South Asian man on television — simply by being Naturally Tan. Full of his candid observations about US and UK cultural differences, social media behavior, celebrity encounters, behind-the-scenes realities of reality TV, and — of course — fashion tips, Tan gives his unique perspective on the happiness to be found in being yourself.

My Journey by Donna Karan

A personal, provocative memoir by the iconic designer includes candid stories about her difficult and isolated childhood, her nearly five-decade career in the fashion industry, her two marriages, her children, and her spiritual life.

Wear And Tear : The Threads Of My Life by Tracy Tynan

A candid, entertaining memoir told through clothes. When Tracy started writing about her life she found that clothing was the focus of many of her stories. She recalls her father’s dandy attire and her mother’s Pucci dresses, as well as her parents’ rancorous marriage and divorce, her father’s prodigious talents and celebrity lifestyle, and her mother’s lifelong struggle with addiction. She tackles issues big and small using clothes as an entrée–relationships, marriage, children, stepchildren, blended families, her parent’s decline and deaths, and her work as a costume designer are all recounted with humor, with insight, and with the special joy that can only come from finding the perfect outfit. 

The Woman I Wanted To Be by Diane von Furstenberg

One of the most influential, admired, and innovative women of our time: fashion designer, philanthropist, wife, mother, and grandmother, Furstenberg offers a book about becoming the woman she wanted to be. She reflects on her extraordinary life–from childhood in Brussels to her days as a young, jet-set princess, to creating the dress that came to symbolize independence and power for an entire generation of women.

Magazines

A variety of fashion magazines are available to borrow on Libby

Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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