33 books like Charles James

By Michele Gerber Klein,

Here are 33 books that Charles James fans have personally recommended if you like Charles James. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris

Emma Baxter-Wright Author Of Chanel Paperscapes: The Book That Transforms Into a Work of Art

From my list on the provocative talents of the fashion industry.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a failed fashion designer, the history of twentieth-century fashion, represented both visually and in the form of narrative text, make up the bulk of my ever-increasing library of fashion books. In order to write about fashion, either as a biographer of one of the great designers or cutting-edge photographers, it is crucial to acknowledge what was deemed as desirable in a previous generation and a previous context. As Yves Saint Laurent famously said, "Fashion fades, Style is eternal." Fashion in its broader sense has never existed in a vacuum and an understanding of fashion history and fashion imagery, that so clearly evokes a specific era, is the very best way to appreciate the cyclical nature of this creative business.  

Emma's book list on the provocative talents of the fashion industry

Emma Baxter-Wright Why did Emma love this book?

Meticulously researched by brilliant fashion journalist Alicia Drake, this book charts the bitchy, high octane rivalry of two mega egos of the industry, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. As a journalist working today in an era of horrendous consumerism known as ‘fast fashion’ this detailed account of how both men were instrumental in shifting the established codes of a refined haute couture system into a faster-paced ready-to-wear market in the 1970s is illuminating. It also documents the evolution of couturier as a celebrity, detailing how YSL used an image of himself to promote his aftershave in 1971, a revolutionary idea of self-promotion at the time, and now a very necessary part of the ‘selfie’ obsessed generation of creatives working in fashion.  

By Alicia Drake,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Beautiful Fall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1950s Paris, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld were friends, the rising stars of the fashion world. But by the late sixties, the city was invaded by a new mood of liberation and hedonism, and dominated by intrigue, infidelities, addiction and parties. Each designer created his own mesmerizing world, so vivid and seductive that people were drawn to the power, charisma and fame, and it was to make them bitter rivals. "The Beautiful Fall" is a dazzling expose of an era and the story of the two men who were its essence and who remain its most singular survivors.


Book cover of Vivienne Westwood: An Unfashionable Life

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell Author Of The Way We Wed: A Global History of Wedding Fashion

From my list on biographies of fashion designers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is the author of Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Worn on This Day: The Clothes That Made History, and The Way We Wed: A Global History of Wedding Fashion. She is working on a biography of designer Chester Weinberg.

Kimberly's book list on biographies of fashion designers

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell Why did Kimberly love this book?

This began as an authorized biography, but Westwood proved such a slippery subject that journalist Mulvagh wisely decided to proceed without the designer’s cooperation. The result is a warts-and-all portrait of the important, eccentric, and often infuriating designer, from her scrappy, sloppy punk roots to her current status as the kooky grande dame of British fashion. She’s surrounded by an equally chaotic and colorful cast of feckless boyfriends, gurus, and musicians; London in the 70s and 80s is a character in its own right. Westwood’s raw talent shines through a litany of bad decisions, controversies, and copycats.

By Jane Mulvagh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vivienne Westwood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed biography of one of England's great eccentrics and leading fashion designers, reissued in an updated edition to coincide with a major exhibition of Westwood's work at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

For three decades, Vivienne Westwood has been Britain's most consistently original, outrageous, eccentric and controversial designer. In that time she has evolved from an iconoclastic outsider to an internationally revered figure, with two British Designer of the Year awards, an OBE, her own successful fashion label and an unrivalled reputation for leading where other designers follow. Her lifestyle could scarcely be in greater contrast to the opulence…


Book cover of Chanel's Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell Author Of The Way We Wed: A Global History of Wedding Fashion

From my list on biographies of fashion designers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is the author of Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Worn on This Day: The Clothes That Made History, and The Way We Wed: A Global History of Wedding Fashion. She is working on a biography of designer Chester Weinberg.

Kimberly's book list on biographies of fashion designers

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell Why did Kimberly love this book?

There have been so many biographies of Coco Chanel, good and bad, that it must be hard to find anything new (or nice) to say about her. This capsule history offers fresh insights into her lifestyle, inspirations, and obsessions. At La Pausa—her entirely beige bolt-hole on the French Riviera—Chanel waited out World War II alongside the likes of Colette, Igor Stravinsky, Edith Wharton, Aldous Huxley, Jean Cocteau, Wallis Simpson, and Somerset Maugham, who famously called the Riviera “a sunny place for shady people.” That reputation is certainly borne out by de Courcy’s book, which paints Chanel and her circle as being blissfully, willfully ignorant of the stealth war between the Nazis and the French Resistance raging around them.

By Anne De Courcy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chanel's Riviera as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this captivating narrative, Chanel’s Riviera explores the fascinating world of the Cote d’Azur during a period that saw the deepest extremes of luxury and terror in the twentieth century.

The Cote d’Azur in 1938 was a world of wealth, luxury, and extravagance, inhabited by a sparkling cast of characters including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Joseph P. Kennedy, Gloria Swanson, Colette, the Mitfords, Picasso, Cecil Beaton, and Somerset Maugham. The elite flocked to the Riviera each year to swim, gamble, and escape from the turbulence plaguing the rest of Europe. At the glittering center of it all was…


Book cover of Arsho Baghsarian: A Life in Shoes

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell Author Of The Way We Wed: A Global History of Wedding Fashion

From my list on biographies of fashion designers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell is the author of Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette, Worn on This Day: The Clothes That Made History, and The Way We Wed: A Global History of Wedding Fashion. She is working on a biography of designer Chester Weinberg.

Kimberly's book list on biographies of fashion designers

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell Why did Kimberly love this book?

The subject of this colorful miniature coffee table book has a resumé that stretches from Christian Dior in the 1960s to Stuart Weitzman in the 2020s. Baghsarian’s whimsical, sculptural shoes have a timeless charm; most of them could be worn today, with pleasure. But she remains largely unknown, even though her elastic and leather 5050 boot—created 30 years ago—is still a bestseller. Verin reminds us that long before Blahnik, Choo, and Louboutin, women like Baghsarian, Beth Levine, and Mabel Julianelli dominated the American footwear scene.

By Helene Verin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Arsho Baghsarian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the most important shoe designers of the mid- to late twentieth century, Arsho Baghsarian spent more than four decades working behind the scenes for prestigious companies with men's names on the label, including Christian Dior, Andrew Geller, I. Miller, and Stuart Weitzman, as well as Shoe Biz. Her creative genius is illustrated in this photographic collection of full-page sketches, prototypes, and production pairs that she donated to the Fashion Institute of Technology. Known for her sculptural heels and the use of exotic materials such as snakeskin, crystal, and Lucite, Baghsarian's extraordinary journey spans from a childhood in Turkey…


Book cover of Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli

Jennifer Merz Author Of Steadfast: Frances Perkins, Champion of Workers' Rights

From my list on strong inspiring women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a picture-book writer and illustrator as well as a mother and teacher, the most important goal I can think of is fueling a child’s imagination with possibilities by providing true stories of trailblazing women. My reviews highlight remarkable women in the arts, government, sports, social work, and history. I hope you enjoy these books!

Jennifer's book list on strong inspiring women

Jennifer Merz Why did Jennifer love this book?

Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli is a visual feast! Pages are strewn with illustrations created in designer colors and, of course, Schiaparelli’s signature color: SHOCKING PINK! Entering this book, readers might have the impression of sniffing a fragrant bouquet of flowers or savoring an Italian pastry. Schiaparelli’s life was not easy, but her resolve to conquer her problems and become an artist/fashion designer is inspiring. She Blooms! The true story is engaging and fast-paced. The pictures are imaginative and exciting, just like Schiap herself. Get your hands on this book. You won’t be disappointed!

By Kyo Maclear, Julie Morstad (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bloom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A dazzling first-person picture book biography of the life of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli by gifted team Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad. Backmatter included.

Beauty . . .

Color . . .

Doubts . . .

As a little girl in Rome, Elsa Schiaparelli's mamma told her she was not pretty. What is beauty? Elsa wondered as she grew older. So she sought out beauty around her and found it everywhere: in the colors and scents of the Rome flower market, in the garden, and in the attic of her family home, buried in a chest of old dresses. She…


Book cover of Spying in High Heels

Jody Holford Author Of Home Is Where the Body Is

From my list on making your inner sleuth swoon.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a romance, romantic comedy, and cozy mystery writer, I not only have a passion for the swoon-worthy moments when I’m creating them but crave them as a reader. There are so many great books out there but chemistry, particularly between a main character and her love interest, is what really makes me want more of a series. It’s not always easy to create that sigh-worthy-make-you-smile element of romance and love in a book that is geared toward solving a murder so I really appreciate when it’s done well. It’s not only enjoyable for me as a reader but a great example for me as a writer. 

Jody's book list on making your inner sleuth swoon

Jody Holford Why did Jody love this book?

This book is adorable and hilarious. My favorite cozies have a heavy punch of romance and sparks in them and this one definitely fits the bill. Maddie lands herself in all the wrong places, at all the wrong times, with all the wrong people. Watching her back, and the rest of her, is an LAPD detective who doesn’t want to fall for her charms but, like readers, absolutely can’t help himself. 

By Gemma Halliday,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Spying in High Heels as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 Amazon, New York Times & USA Today Bestselling series! High Crime meets High Fashion when shoe designer turned amateur sleuth Maddie Springer is on the case...with laugh-out-loud results!

Struggling LA shoe designer, Maddie Springer, lives her life by three rules: Fashion. Fashion. Fashion. But when her boyfriend suddenly disappears--along with $20 million in embezzled funds--her life takes an unexpected turn from Manolos to murder. Now her every move is under scrutiny by the LAPD's sexiest cop, dead bodies are dropping around her faster than last season's trends, and the deeper she digs the more she realizes maybe she didn't…


Book cover of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh Author Of American Estrangement: Stories

From my list on ways to fit in in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Other than the fact that I grew up in the United States, the son of a Jewish-American mother, an Iranian-born father, a thirteen-letter unpronounceable letter last name, the 444-day Iranian hostage crisis, and parents who were both members of the Socialist Workers Party, which advocated for a working-class revolution along the lines of the Russian Revolution—I am a typical American. I like hamburgers, Martha Stewart, and the New York Yankees. Trace elements of my upbringing can still be found in my memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, my two short story collections, and my worldview, which I’m still working on in therapy. 

Saïd's book list on ways to fit in in America

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh Why did Saïd love this book?

If you’ve never thought it possible to write about imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay with humor. Alex Gilvarry upends this misconception. This is billed as a “memoir,” but it’s really a madcap novel about a high-fashioned Filipino-born young man who happens to be living in New York City at the wrong moment in history, and who finds out the hard way that the American dream can turn into a nightmare at any moment. “How did I end up in No Man’s Land?” our hero wonders, joining a long list who have asked that question. 

By Alex Gilvarry,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The critically acclaimed debut from Alex Gilvarry, a darkly comic love letter to New York, told through the eyes of Boy Hernandez: Filipino immigrant, glamour junkie, Guantánamo detainee.

Alex Gilvarry's widely acclaimed first novel is the story of designer Boy Hernandez: Filipino immigrant, New York glamour junkie, Guantánamo detainee. Locked away indefinitely and accused of being linked to a terrorist plot, Boy prepares for the tribunal of his life with this intimate confession, a dazzling swirl of soirees, runways, and hipster romance that charts one small man's undying love for New York City and his pursuit of the big American…


Book cover of Bad Penny Blues

Mike Gerrard Author Of Strip till Dead

From my list on crime set in London.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my freelance career as a travel writer, though I now also write about drinks. While living in London I worked for a while at the men’s magazine, Mayfair, and around that time went out for several months with a woman who was a stripper. I didn’t know that when we met, so judged her by her personality not her profession. One of the magazine’s models was murdered, and one of the staff questioned by police. He was totally innocent. I wanted to write the kind of book I like reading, bringing together those two storylines to create a fictional version of a very real part of London life.

Mike's book list on crime set in London

Mike Gerrard Why did Mike love this book?

I absolutely loved this book, set in the London of the 1960s. It starts with the murder of a prostitute and takes you into the shady world of Soho with its drugs and clubs, its swingers and its singers. A young PC is assigned to work with the CID to catch the killer, as he found the body. The writing is vivid and it appeals as the murder, though central, is only part of a broader picture of the London of that era.

By Cathi Unsworth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bad Penny Blues as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A gripping crime novel inspired by the "Jack the Stripper" killings in 1960s London.

Bad Penny Blues is the latest gripping crime fiction from Cathi Unsworth, London's undisputed queen of noir. Set in late 1950s and early 1960s London, it is loosely based on the West London "Jack the Stripper" killings that rocked the city. The narrative follows police officer Pete Bradley, who investigates the serial killings of a series of prostitutes, and, in a parallel story, Stella, part of the art and fashion worlds of 1960s "Swinging London," who is haunted by visions of the murdered women.


Book cover of May I Come In?: Discovering the World in Other People's Houses

Christophe Pourny Author Of The Furniture Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Identify, Restore & Care for Furniture

From my list on loving where you live.

Why am I passionate about this?

I opened my first history book in school at 6 and have been fascinated by how people lived since then. I found the evolution of furniture, interiors, decorations, exteriors, and everything that relates to how we live of the utmost importance if we want to know who we are and why. I am the son of antique dealers, growing up in France, so furniture is my principal domain of expertise, but I always put it in relation to the epoch they are from and the people who used them. I became the go-to of Martha Stewart for antiques and furniture restoration and have been featured in TV shows and magazines regularly.

Christophe's book list on loving where you live

Christophe Pourny Why did Christophe love this book?

I admire Wendy’s sense of intimacy and ability to enter people’s private lives through their interiors. I find her sense of style timeless. I love the intimacy level she connects with a room and its owners. I think she can see life and excitement at every level.

I know her personally and am very fond of her love for interiors, of original and unique living space as well as the way she has to find them.

By Wendy Goodman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked May I Come In? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Champagne Supernovas: Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Alexander McQueen, and the '90s Renegades Who Remade Fashion

Alyssa Hardy Author Of Worn Out: How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion's Sins

From my list on style.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fashion has been the love of my life since I was a little kid pouring over magazines and watching shows on fashion TV in the middle of the night. But I’ve always known fashion is not about clothing, its about feeling and it’s about people. That’s why I love to read the stories about people who work in fashion, who have been impacted by fashion and those who love it just as much as I do. 

Alyssa's book list on style

Alyssa Hardy Why did Alyssa love this book?

If you have any interest in the supermodel era of fashion, Champagne Supernovas is a great look into a piece of it.

The book gives you an inside look at the style scene in the 1990s highlighting moments with Kate Moss, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, and more. It details some of the most powerful people’s personal struggles, and how the culture they had been thrust into only made it worst. It’s glamorous, sure, but the exploration of the underbelly of popular culture makes it that much more exciting to read. 

By Maureen Callahan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Champagne Supernovas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Terrifically exciting and fun” (Publishers Weekly), Champagne Supernovas is “a lucid, smoothly executed look at a pivotal decade in the legacy of American fashion” (Kirkus Reviews) as told through the lives of Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, and Alexander McQueen—the three iconic personalities who defined the time.

Veteran pop culture journalist Maureen Callahan takes us back to the pivotal style moment of the early 1990s—when supermodel glamazons gave way to heroin chic, when the alternative became the mainstream, and when fashion suddenly became the cradle for the most exciting artistic and cultural innovations of the age. Champagne Supernovas gives you the…


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