Via: Refinery 29

By: Ana Colon
When we think of fashion books, we tend to picture a setting more than a genre: We imagine an impeccable stack of thick, untouched volumes sitting atop a non-Ikea coffee table. And while this does comprise a certain type of fashion book, the category expands far beyond our apartment goals.
Fashion books are about way more than fashion in a straightforward sense. They can shape a more abstract sense of style, and come in many different forms: a compelling narrative, maybe; a series of photographs, or even a poem. They can celebrate a designer’s achievements, explain the beauty of decluttering, and provide inspiration for success. They can highlight clothes — but they can also focus on art, architecture, philosophy, and more — and how they relate to the process of formulating one’s personal style.
So, who better to ask than fashion tastemakers to weigh in on the tomes that helped define what fashion means to them? Their answers may surprise you. Ahead, you’ll see a vast range of genres represented — from museum retrospectives to lighthearted memoirs — but they each have lit someone’s creative fuse. See if something doesn’t call to your coffeetable you, too.
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Cipriana Quann, cofounder and editor-in-chief, Urban Bush Babes
“I know this may be strange to say but The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I think it was the earliest memory in which I thought of clothes as more than just clothes but a vehicle to escape or projecting a mood without saying a word. As a little girl, my childhood was not the most peaceful environment, therefore I secretly wished I could be transported to another world via my closet, but instead used the items inside it to create imaginary worlds of my own through dress-up. Now, I see the impact fashion can make beyond just the aesthetic.”
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, $.99
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Ryan Lobo & Ramon Martin, fashion designers, Tome
“The follow-up to the definitive Confessions of a Pretty Lady, this book is brash, sexy, funny, and gossipy, but also sweet and tender, and at times brutally real. It stand the test of time.”
Love, Love, and Love by Sandra Bernhard, $9.37
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Darlene and Lizzy Okpo, designers, William Okpo
Darlene: ”[The Way We Wore: Black Style Thenby Michael McCollom] showcases African-American fashion from the 1940s through today. I love this book so much; it’s my daily inspiration when I want to try something new.”
Lizzy: ”Sage Living: Decorate for the Life You Want — It’s not a fashion book, but I love interior design.”
The Way We Wore: Black Style Then by Michael McCollom, $25.59, available at AmazonSage Living: Decorate for the Life You Want by Anne Sage, $16.50
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Garance Doré, photographer, illustrator, author of Love Style Life, and founder and creative director, Garance Doré
“I adore this book because it’s generous and reflects a beautiful time of fashion, a time when models took over the world. Great girls are portrayed in here with such a candid approach. It made fashion fun and approachable, two things that resonate with me so much. It’s also a beautiful book with gorgeous photography from Arthur Elgort, without being heavy or pretentious. The name,Models Manual, is simple and perfect. It inspired me a lot for my book, Love Style Life. To me, it’s a great classic.”
Arthur Elgort’s Models Manual by Arthur Elgort, $16.85
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Celia Smith, fashion editor and founder, needle+thræd
“At my first real job at a magazine as a fashion and beauty assistant, my boss at the time had a very quirky, out-of-the-box approach to fashion, which I loved. She would draw inspiration from fashion and art history, and introduced me to Gustav Klimt for the first time by bringing this coffee table book to work, and I was enamored. I realized for the first time how art and fashion could be so intimately connected, and became aware of his influence and the impact of other artists on the fashion industry. Seeking inspiration in art and culture is now very important in the work I produce. While at the Taschen book store this summer, I picked up my own copy of his work — Gustav Klimt: The Complete Paintings.”
Gustav Klimt: The Complete Paintings by Tobias Natter, $138.49
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Jonathan Simkhai, designer, Jonathan Simkhai
“This book has taught me so many things, especially the importance of constantly moving forward, invention, and letting things go. It really spoke to me as a designer and a creator.
“’Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back…that’s part of what it means to be alive. But inside our heads — at least that’s where I imagine it — there’s a little room where we store those memories. A room like the stacks in this library. And to understand the workings of our own heart we have to keep on making new reference cards. We have to dust things off every once in awhile, let in fresh air, change the water in the flower vases. In other words, you’ll live forever in your own private library.’”
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, 11.99
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Rajni Jacques, fashion editor at large, Racked, and consulting creative director
“Haiti is a very beautiful and simple place. The people have so much strength and creativity — all while coping with the very harsh obstacles of life there. It may seem a bit odd to relate this to fashion and how this has shaped my sense of style as well as shaped me, but oddly my culture, my people, and this black-and-white photo book have.
“I’m very simple in the way I approach fashion. For me, it’s not necessarily about what I am wearing, because I don’t want that to be the only thing that leaves a lasting impression. My canvas usually includes the colors white, gray, and blue (jeans are always in the picture). What it is about, for me, is what I am projecting, that’s how I want people to remember me by. I want them to remember how I made them feel when I was around them.
“When you encounter a person [in Haiti], for the most part, they are very happy to be alive, despite their circumstances. They always see that something good will come — the glass is always half full. That’s the spirit of the people, and that’s how I approach every facet of my life, from work to love. There is always a silver lining. From the little girl and boy in their school uniforms, to the little girl walking in the rubble made from the earthquake wearing a bathing suit eating a bon bon and smiling, to a picture of little boy rolling a wheel dressed in my favorite uniform of jeans and a tee, this book is visual inspiration for me. I take this book off my shelf and look at it probably every two months, just to refresh my memory. And I’ve also gotten some fashion inspiration from this book. Remember that little boy I mentioned rolling the wheel wearing a pair of jeans and a tee? I’ve taken that photo to my tailor to get a pair of jeans cut exactly like his. This book is a combination of smiles and frowns all at once, and it has given inspiration for life.”
Haiti: Through the Eye of Stefano Guindani by Stefano Guindani, $29
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Margaret Zhang, blogger, Shine by Three
“Creatively speaking, The Princess Bride was probably the most influential novel I read growing up. I first read it when I was 8, then again when I was 13, 15, and 18. I was so fascinated by [William] Goldman’s ability to conjure vivid scenes and character traits with indirect descriptions — it definitely made me appreciate the impact of storytelling as I moved into my photography and styling work, rather than just literally shooting what’s in front of you.”
The Princess Bride by William Goldman, $12.75
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Gabriele Hackworthy, fashion director, Porter, and editorial fashion director, Net-a-Porter
“Kate Moss is the ultimate fashion icon. Her effortless bohemian style transcends fashion and is a constant source of inspiration in the industry. Kate Moss edited by Fabien Baron is the ultimate retrospective on her impressive career in fashion and makes the perfect addition to anyone’s coffee table this holiday season.”
Kate Moss by Fabien Baron, $85 $60
To view many more books that inspired fashion’s tastemakers visit Refinery 29 here