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Whether you're a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, an intern or writer at a fashion magazine, a high school student with big dreams, or someone who has decided they want to try their hand at becoming a fashion designer later in life, there are many ways to hone in on your craft. One of these ways is consistent practice, something that works once you have theory and design already mapped out in your head. What if, like many though, you don't exactly have those ideas in mind? Luckily for you, a number of books exist that can give you the best chance at stepping into the fashion arena with a firm understanding of its history, inner workings, and skills upon which the entire industry is built.
These books to read if you want to become a fashion designer will hone your drawing and sewing skills, teach you terms and concepts, inspire your sense of style, and give you role models like Anna Wintour, Christian Dior, and Iris Apfel. They may also give you some insights into the direction that the fashion industry might be heading next.
How to Draw like a Fashion Designer by Celia Joicey
While you may think most fashion designers began their journey by honing their sewing skills, many actually began by drawing outfits; and therefore, you must hone your drawing skills in pursuit of this dream, too. This book by Celia Joicey provides drawing exercises, and gives you a peek into the sketchbooks of many famous designers. The hardest thing you'll have to master in your drawing practice are the proportions of the human body, which are the exact tips Joicey provides in this book, helping you master them with practice and persistence. Joicey also explains how to develop your own collection and create a mood board for it, as well as providing you with lists of terms to refer to varying styles and different fabrics.
200 Skills Every Fashion Designer Must Have by Aisling McKeefry
In her book, 200 Skills Every Fashion Designer Must Have: The Indispensable Guide to Building Skills and Turning Ideas into Reality, Aisling McKeefry helps you move from illustration to sewing, taking the drawings that you created with Celia Joicey's book, and turning them into actual garments. McKeefry fills this book with tutorials for things like sewing and alterations, and each tutorial guides you through one of the many essential skills that you would need to apply every day having a job in the fashion industry.
Fashion Designer's Resource Book by Samata Pattinson
In the Fashion Designer's Resource Book: Fashioning Your Life, Samata Pattinson aims to help readers to find fulfillment in an industry as competitive as it is creative. This is, essentially, a fashion designer survival guide for those just getting started. Pattinson provides insight into the different moving parts that go into building a successful fashion line, including the kinds of choices that need to be made to keep that line successful. In keeping with the times, she also provides insight into some of the choices that fashion designers are making in the present, like whether, and how, to bring sustainable practices into the fashion world. This book also includes interviews with key influencers in the industry, which are as inspiring as they are informative.
Little Dictionary of Fashion by Christian Dior
Christian Dior's Little Dictionary of Fashion is a book that you will want to pick up regardless of your personal interest in becoming a fashion designer. Dior sheds all of his wisdom regarding the fundamentals of fashion (simplicity, grooming, and good taste); the "timeless tips" that each woman can turn to when she's attempting to build an outfit. This title also features lessons in fashion etiquette, as he answers questions like, "What should I wear to a wedding?" This is a book to keep on your bedside table no matter where your fashion career takes you, and it's one to share with your friends as well.
In Vogue by Alberto Oliva and Norberto Angeletti
In Vogue: An Illustrated History of the World's Most Famous Fashion Magazine is a book which pulls together hundreds of the famous magazine covers and interiors in order to give the reader insight into the historical impact of this magazine. Doing so allows the reader to see how far-reaching Vogue's work has become in the areas of art and culture, fashion, and photography, making it the perfect read for inspiration. Just close your eyes and imagine your designs taking up space in this historic magazine every morning when you wake up to keep your dreams alive.
Fashion: The Definitive History of Costume and Style by DK Publishing
This book by DK Publishing is a visual guide to every style of clothing that has ever been created and worn. This comprehensive guide collects styles from all around the world, showcasing how Western fashion has been especially influenced by designs that came out of different cultures.
Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue by Grace Coddington
Grace Coddington is the creative director at Vogue, and she is most known for staging large and dramatic photoshoots for the magazine. This book, in particular, pulls together the work she created, and the stories she lived through between 1972 and 2002 while at Vogue. Coddington used the opportunity, working where she worked, to take photos for the magazine that encouraged fashion designers to tell stories and become more memorable to even the most casual admirer. Her work ushered in a period of time that defined fashion as a form of art.
The End of Fashion by Teri Agins
Teri Agins, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, explores how marketing and fashion have become intertwined in this book. She also seems to argue that fashion has put too much effort into the marketing aspect of the industry, but not enough into the actual design of the clothing that is and will be mass-produced and mass-marketed. This book is a must-read for anyone who not only wants to enter the fashion industry, but put a stake in it by trying to build their own name and style within it. If you want to understand the business side of becoming a fashion designer, this book can act as your guide.
Front Row: Anna Wintour by Jerry Oppenheimer
This biography of Anna Wintour is a staple in any fashion-centered library. Wintour's affect on the fashion landscape cannot be denied, and it certainly shouldn't be forgotten in the array of media that has arisen since her rise to the position of Editor in Chief at Vogue. Her real life work inspired characters like those found in The Devil Wears Prada and, more recently, The Bold Type. This biography weaves a nice history of Vogue and fashion through the years of Wintour's life, capturing how Anna Wintour has reinvented herself along the way to the top of the fashion world, as well as the role that fashion has played in each new invention of herself since. This book effectively gives you a "front row seat" to the stage that has been Wintour's and Vogue's life in the public sphere.
If you want to be a fashion designer, it will do you some good to get insight into the personal life and experiences of the woman at the top of the game right now.
Fashion Forecasting by Lorynn R. Divita and Evelyn L. Brannon
Fashion forecasting is an industry that identifies trends in things like textiles, colors, patterns, silhouettes, and any of the other details in a garment that might someday become a trend. Brannon and Divita's book provides readers with a guide to understand how the forecasting process is undergone, how consumer research is utilized in design, and how various cultural influences may impact consumers' desires for one style over another.
Beyond just learning that this industry exists, it could prove helpful for you to learn of the tactics used by those in this industry, just in case you ever want to utilize any of these processes to keep your own designs one of the top five fashion trends to follow this summer.
Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon by Iris Apfel
To finish off your fashion reading list, you should pick up a copy of Iris Apfel's book, in which she gives readers helpful details, interesting observations, and funny anecdotes that she's collected over her 96 years of life. Iris Apfel has risen to stardom as a fashion design icon in her later years for her distinctive, eye-catching, personal style. She calls herself a "geriatric starlet," and has risen to this position by being her authentic self, in both manner and style. She has encouraged and inspired others to do the same, in pursuit of finding their own clothing style and breaking out of their shells.
Apfel was a co-founder of Carl Apfel with her husband, which was an international textile manufacturing company. In 2005, she became the first person to have her clothing and accessories exhibited at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and this brought her into the spotlight.
Hopefully, by diving into Apfel's musings, you'll be inspired to bring your authentic self, and your authentic view of the fashion world, into the designs you hope to create.
To leave you with some of Iris Apfel's wisdom:
"There is really no substitute for experience. You must have experience and be open to experience — that helps. That helps a lot. Most importantly, you have to be yourself, be who you are and take time to be open and honest with yourself. That is what it's all about. If you don't know yourself, you'll never have great style. You'll never really live. To me, the worst fashion faux pas is to look in the mirror, and not see yourself."
Take a note from Iris Apfel, and make your number one priority your perspective and view of the world. By defining that, you will sharpen all the qualities that make you unique, and, in doing so, you can bring who you are into all of the work that you do, all the designs you create, and each and every moment of your life in the fashion industry.
These books to read if you want to become a fashion designer will ultimately inspire and instruct you to be the best version of your stylish self, cementing your passion for this industry, and this dream, into a reality you can, one day, achieve.