Fashionable Inspiration
January 18, 2006 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Calling all fashionistas! Any one out there know of any good reference books for fashion designers?

I have a dear friend who's studying fashion design in L.A. with a birthday coming up and I'd like to get her some inspirational reference books.

I know designers often reference the past by visiting archives housing old fashion magazines, etc for inspiration--which explains why what's old is new again sooner or later. I've browsed Amazon and have found a few possiblilities, including this, but wonder if any one in/related to the fashion design industry could recommend something that may be considered an essential reference for a designer.
posted by phoenixc to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total)
you can't do poorly with Giles Bensimon's _No Particular Order_. he's the co-founder of Elle and a legendary fashion photog. the book is amazing.
posted by kcm at 11:29 PM on January 18, 2006

Keeping in mind that I'm a dabbler, not an expert, I like The Century of the Designer quite a bit.

I can also recommend the Blueprints of Fashion books - although they're limited to the 40s and 50s, they feature oodles of drool-worthy color illustrations, and interesting information on the history of the sewing pattern to boot.
posted by hilatron at 5:04 AM on January 19, 2006

What about a Vogue subscription? I'm not sure, but they might also have a program for ordering back issues. They might even bind them. Or you could possibly buy a series of back issues - ebay? - and have them bound.
posted by Amizu at 5:10 AM on January 19, 2006

If your friend is inspired by fashion history, this might be a very good gift, provided that he or she doesn't own it already. One caveat is that it only covers clothing from the late 18th century to modern times, it only really shows the clothing of the elite, and so on and so forth.
However, the pieces that it does show are exemplary, and the photography is gorgeous.

(I'm not in the fashion business, but I have done some theatrical costuming.)
posted by Lycaste at 8:03 AM on January 19, 2006

If it’s costume history you’re going for, the Fashion in Detail series draws from the essential collections at the V&A in London; the close-ups in here are perfectly calculated to appeal to anyone actually making clothes, not just with a general or sociological interest in costume, and each is a true visual delight; not too costly. You can pick from modern, “ethnic,” and historical, or get all 3!

The Amazon page ref’ed above includes links to some pretty good reader lists in this area. There are also LOTS of big beautiful coffee-table monographs on most of the well-known 20th-century design stars, any of which would be great to have if you know who your friend fancies... For example, there’s plenty of stunning Issey Miyake books, always stimulating.

The ultimate “classic” for MY money, however, would be Max Tilke’s Costume Patterns and Design, with it’s lovely watercolor schematics of tribal and traditional garb from around the world; it’s long out of print, and now mostly available online. Used copies are expensive, but there’s nothing like the real thing.
posted by dpcoffin at 10:59 AM on January 19, 2006

Just noticed that there’s a 4th book in the in-detail series, on the 19th century; cool! I’m sure it’s every bit as luscious as the others (Modern F-I-D, Historical F-I-D, and Dress-I-D).
posted by dpcoffin at 11:04 AM on January 19, 2006

In case anybody's checking in later, I just saw a copy of the FASHION book linked in lycaste's post, and it's an astounding value: Huge, detailed, gorgeous. Don't miss it!
posted by dpcoffin at 6:34 PM on January 31, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all your help, everyone! I went with my original find since most of the great suggestions posted here weren't available for immediate shipping. She received it yesterday and loved it. :)
posted by phoenixc at 7:40 PM on January 31, 2006

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