“No Kilts Allowed” Fashion Column: Best Fashion Biographies

It’s hard to get enough of fashion magazines. They are affordable, easy to consume and it’s lovely to receive them in the mail each month. They offer straightforward inspiration and often insightful articles. But for some, magazines will never be enough. Magazines simply cannot compete with the insight provided by a book. And yet, the fashion books on the market seem to be consistently overshadowed by magazines. For those who crave them, here are some of my favorite fashion biographies.

“The Gospel According to Coco Chanel” by Karen Carbo: While there are countless biographies of the timeless icon Coco Chanel, this book takes a different approach than the vast majority of them. It gives a brief life history, with the main focus of the book being the application of Chanel’s life philosophies in modern times. The book features easy to digest quotations, and is quite witty and entertaining.

“Front Row Anna Wintour: The Cool Life and Hot Times of Vogue’s Editor in Chief” by Jerry Oppenheimer: After having her public image quite skewed after the 2003 novel “The Devil Wears Prada,” written by a disgruntled ex-assistant, Jerry Oppenheimer provides a more objective look at Anna Wintour. The editor-in-chief of Vogue, referred to by many as “The Queen,” is one of the most controversial figures in fashion as a result of her cutthroat approach to running the magazine, and Oppenheimer makes no excuses for her. He combs her past, interviewing old school friends and anyone who might possibly have a grain of “dirt” on Wintour. However, he does also acknowledge her accomplishments as arguably the most successful editor in fashion history, and attempts to show a deep person behind her public cattiness.

“D.V.” by Diana Vreeland: Written by the outlandish Diana Vreeland herself, this autobiography captures Vreeland’s work as fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar and editor-in-chief of American Vogue. Vreeland has an uninhibited passion for the industry and writes about it in a charming, if not far-fetched manner. She recalls she and her younger sister being the last ones to see The Mona Lisa before it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911, curing Jack Nicholson’s back pain and watching Charles Lindbergh fly over her house during his infamous trip. While certainly not entirely accurate, the book is a fantastic read for any fashion lover.

“Annie Liebovitz: A Photographer’s Life”: Alright, this is one that has very little to do with fashion. But Liebovitz has photographed some of the most famous names in the fashion industry, and works nearly every month with the top publications. This book highlights some of her most profound work from 1990-2005, including photographs of Johnny Cash, Nicole Kidman, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Keith Richards, Michael Jordan, Joan Didion, R2-D2, Patti Smith, Nelson Mandela, Jack Nicholson, William Burroughs and George W. Bush.

 

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