Fashion enthusiasts or folks involved in the business of fashion are always on a look out for literary gems related to this magnificent industry. Understanding the history of fashion or reading about the lives of renowned figures in the fashion industry can sometimes give clues to current trends. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a variety of books on fashion, the best part is they are free to download. The subjects vary from memoirs to documentaries, from design inspirations to history.
- Madame Grès by Richard Martin and Harold Koda: This book celebrates a designer with exceptional vision who gave the fashion world, drapé or draped dress. Grès invented one model that she practiced, polished, perfected, and purified.
- The Age of Napoleon: Costume from Revolution to Empire, 1789–1815: The topics covered in the book include Costume, jewels and uniforms of the Napoleon empire, Napoleons wardrobe, American and French fashion during Napoleon’s reign.
- Our New Clothes: Acquisitions of the 1990s by Richard Martin (1999): This book has a theme based arrangement of the the best that fashion has offered in the last decade. It features works of Calvin Klein, Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, Christian Dior, Vivienne Westwood, and Gianni Versace.
- The Eighteenth-Century Woman by Olivier Bernier (1982): This book explores the attire of Victorian women, somewhere between 1837 to 1877. The period was dominated by formal court dresses and English silk paisley style.
- Infra-Apparel by Richard Martin and Harold Koda (1993): This book explores, through photographs and paintings, the cultural significance of undergarments as “intimate signifiers”.
- Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress by Richard Martin and Harold Koda (1994): The book covers the influence of Asia and the middle east on western fashion over the 18th to 20th century.
- La Belle Époque by Julian, Philippe, and Diana Vreeland (1982): This one is an oldie but goodie. A documentary with interviews of Diana Vreeland, the 7th Earl of Canaervon, Barbara Cartland, Erte’, and Latarque.
- Haute Couture by Richard Martin and Harold Koda (1995): An illustrated volume about everything you want to know about Haute Couture (fashion driven by the artistic expression of the designer rather than the dictates of clients) from its inception to the works of present day industry legends.
- Bare Witness by Richard Martin and Harold Koda (1996): This book explores the changing levels of acceptable bareness of women’s clothes through time.
- Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century by Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton (2006): This book revolves around the seductive interplay of fashion around furniture, paintings and decorative arts.
- The Manchu Dragon: Costumes of the Ch’ing Dynasty, 1644–1912 by Jean Mailey (1980): A book for those who want to learn about the clothing and culture of the Ch’ing dynasty.
- The Imperial Style: Fashions of the Hapsburg Era by Polly Cone (1980): A great reference book for anyone looking to explore fashion of the Hapsburg Era in Austria.
- Wordrobe by Richard Martin (1997): A book of textile designs from the world of fashion that incorporate text.
- Christian Dior by Richard Martin and Harold Koda (1996): A classic coffee table book about a legendary woman and her designs.
- History of Russian Costume from the Eleventh to the Twentieth Century by various authors: A very helpful resource if you are looking to learn about Russian fashion through the centuries.
Happy reading !!