100 books like Vivienne Westwood

By Jane Mulvagh,

Here are 100 books that Vivienne Westwood fans have personally recommended if you like Vivienne Westwood. 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 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 Charles James: Portrait of an Unreasonable Man: Fame, Fashion, Art

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?

Like any art form, fashion has its share of tortured geniuses. Perhaps none combined genius and torture with as much panache as Charles James, who dressed celebrities and socialites only to die in poverty. Vogue editor Bettina Ballard remembered that “he was constantly cutting and perfecting” his toiles, “which he turned, very occasionally, into actual dresses.” A personality as complex and demanding as his sculptural evening gowns, James knew everybody and got along with nobody—and you’ll understand why after reading Klein’s biography, which draws on recently discovered, unfiltered tapes James made for a planned autobiography that, like so many of his creations, he never he finished.

By Michele Gerber Klein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Christian Dior described him as the inspiration for the New Look. Salvador Dali called his work soft sculpture, and Virginia Woolf exclaimed, He is a genius. As George Bernard Shaw tells us, only unreasonable men change the world. This portrait of the life and times of Charles James winner of two Coty awards, and the subject of a 2014 Metropolitan Museum of Art show draws on the glamour of Europe in the 1930s, and the dazzle of New York City from the 40s through the 70s as it travels with James from his birth to privilege in England in 1906…


Book cover of Quant by Quant: The Autobiography of Mary Quant

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?

A totally unpretentious, rollicking first-hand account, of the events that spawned the mythology of the Swinging Sixties of which Mary Quant was an integral part. Having grown up with Quant as a fashion hero, I was thrilled to collaborate with her on a retail beauty video in the 1990s and researched her professional background by reading this autobiography. (first published in 1966, and recently re-issued to coincide with the Quant exhibition at the V&A last year). Credited with inventing hot pants and the mini skirt, purple lipstick, and striped underwear, this old-fashioned biography recounts how the music and fashion that exploded from London during this era, culminated in the invention of ‘youth culture’ a shifting phenomenon that England continually excels in. Without formal training, Quant’s naive optimism is hugely uplifting and will encourage any aspiring designer to follow their dreams. 

By Mary Quant,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The autobiography of Mary Quant-the inventor of the miniskirt-was originally published in 1966 at the height of Swinging London. After opening her groundbreaking boutique Bazaar on London's King's Road in 1955, Quant soared to international fame with her brand of witty style that fitted perfectly with modern city life. She was at the forefront of fashion's democratization-seeking to eliminate snobbery and "make fashionable clothes available to everyone." Her joyful, evocative autobiography captures the world in which she found inspiration-and which she ultimately helped to define and change.


Book cover of Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Claudia Joseph Author Of Diana: A Life in Dresses

From my list on inspirational fashion.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since I was a child, growing up in Gloucestershire, England, I have been passionate about fashion and made and designed my own clothes. I originally wanted to be a fashion designer but feared my drawing wasn’t good enough so studied journalism at the London College of Fashion and went to work for Condé Nast Publications. I later became a newspaper journalist but my love of fashion never went away - I did a millinery course with designer Edwina Ibbotson and a bag designing course at my alma mater. Since then, I have written many articles on fashion and the Royals as well as a number of books.

Claudia's book list on inspirational fashion

Claudia Joseph Why did Claudia love this book?

After the death of Lee Alexander McQueen in 2010, I was fortunate to meet his sister Janet and do an interview with her for the Mail on Sunday.

I was later invited to the launch of the V&A’s exhibition Savage Beauty alongside Lee’s brothers and sisters. This book reminds me of Lee’s extraordinary talent and a very special evening.

By Andrew Bolton, Solve Sundsbo (photographer),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Celebrating the astounding creativity and originality of designer Alexander McQueen, who relentlessly questioned and confronted the requisites of fashion

"An authoritative and moving insight into the legacy of the British designer."-Carola Long, Financial Times

"McQueen's brilliance is celebrated in this sumptuous tome."-Harper's Bazaar

"Excellent."-Huffington Post

Arguably the most influential, imaginative, and provocative designer of his generation, Alexander McQueen both challenged and expanded fashion conventions to express ideas about race, class, sexuality, religion, and the environment. Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty examines the full breadth of the designer's career, from the start of his fledgling label to the triumphs of his own…


Book cover of Blind Justice

Laura C. Stevenson Author Of All Men Glad and Wise: A Mystery

From my list on mysteries that make a time and place come alive.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an historian who writes novels, and an avid reader of historical murder mysteries—especially ones whose characters are affected by social, religious, and political change. Lately, I’ve been fascinated by the breakup of rural British estates between 1880 and 1925, when, in a single generation, the amount of British land owned by the aristocracy fell from 66% to perhaps 15%. I thought it might be interesting to set a “country house” mystery on one of the failing estates, with a narrator influenced by the other great change of the period: from horses to automobiles. “Interesting” was an understatement; writing it was eye-opening.  

Laura's book list on mysteries that make a time and place come alive

Laura C. Stevenson Why did Laura love this book?

Blind Justice, set in 1768, is the first of Bruce Alexander’s 11 Sir John Fielding mysteries. Its hero is the famous blind magistrate of London’s Bow Street Court; its narrator is thirteen-year-old Jeremy Proctor, whom Fielding’s wisdom has saved from an unjust accusation of theft. The pair investigate the death of Sir Richard Goodhope, who has been discovered shot in his library, locked from the inside. Sir John assumes suicide, but Jeremy’s observation of a detail that the magistrate could not see suggests murder. Proof of murder involves following Goodhope’s history through London’s streets, gambling houses, coffee houses, and great houses—to Drury Lane theater and Newgate—in a compelling portrait of eighteenth-century London.

By Bruce Alexander,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first of a series of novels set in 18th-century London and featuring Sir John Fielding - magistrate, detective, founder of the Bow Street Runners, half-brother of Henry, and confidant of such notables as Johnson and Boswell. Sir John is blind, and uses a young orphan as his "eyes".


Book cover of Foundation

Bill Thompson Author Of Callie

From my list on kick off a great series.

Why am I passionate about this?

During my decades in the corporate world, I traveled extensively and spent months in England, where I became a devoted Anglophile. I am privileged to have met Queen Elizabeth II and Philip, and to have attended a knighting at Westminster. English history fascinates me, but so do gripping spy thrillers occurring in European and Middle Eastern settings. There’s nothing better than finishing a satisfying first book in a series—fiction or not--and deciding to ration the remaining ones so you can savor the experience a little longer! 

Bill's book list on kick off a great series

Bill Thompson Why did Bill love this book?

Peter Ackroyd has written several wonderful books about London, the Thames, and aspects of English life, but this six-volume series (the last to come in 2023) is the best and most comprehensive I’ve found. It’s a delightful trip through history, not only covering the politics of the times but giving insight into the daily lives of people from one era to the next, how towns became cities, infrastructure and the system of government developed. The page counts are daunting, but don’t be dissuaded—nobody can make history come alive better than Ackroyd.

By Peter Ackroyd,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The first book in Peter Ackroyd's history of England series, which has since been followed up with two more installments, Tudors and Rebellion.

In Foundation, the chronicler of London and of its river, the Thames, takes us from the primeval forests of England's prehistory to the death, in 1509, of the first Tudor king, Henry VII. He guides us from the building of Stonehenge to the founding of the two great glories of medieval England: common law and the cathedrals. He shows us glimpses of the country's most distant past--a Neolithic stirrup found in a grave, a Roman fort, a…


Book cover of His Majesty's Hope

Joyce Tremel Author Of Death On A Deadline

From my list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated with historical fiction, especially the World War II era, ever since I listened to my mother playing her Big Band Records. I’ve also loved mysteries since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book. Once I discovered historical mysteries, I haven’t been able to separate the two. I’ve recently expanded my interest to include the first world war. There are so many great stories that I’m afraid I’ll never get to read them all. It was really hard to narrow down my list to five books and I hope you’ll love the ones I’ve chosen for you.

Joyce's book list on historical mysteries with women in non-traditional jobs

Joyce Tremel Why did Joyce love this book?

I adore this entire series, and especially this third book. Maggie Hope, who started out as a typist for Winston Churchill is now a full-blown spy for MI-5 and is sent to Germany.

I love seeing Maggie’s development throughout the series. Even when faced with what seem like insurmountable odds, she doesn’t give up. Maggie is the epitome of a woman working not only in a job that was likely considered “man’s work” but doing it splendidly.

By Susan Elia MacNeal,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to…


Book cover of Salt Lick

Jane Rogers Author Of The Testament of Jessie Lamb

From my list on believable British stories set in the near future.

Why am I passionate about this?

Writing my eighth novel, The Testament of Jessie Lamb, I had to move the story into the future in order to explore the topics I was trying to understand. I think through writing: sometimes I feel it is only through writing that I really engage with the world. Work on Jessie Lamb entailed a lot of scientific and future research, and after that I read more and more future fiction, with an increasing appetite for the work of writers who are really interested in exploring where we are headed as a species, and how we might try to survive the damage we have inflicted on the earth.

Jane's book list on believable British stories set in the near future

Jane Rogers Why did Jane love this book?

I came across Salt Lick when hunting for novels on the topic of climate breakdown.

I was looking for writers who go beyond the doom and gloom, to find either rays of hope or at the very least a story where life and love might survive. For me, hope was an essential element in Jessie Lamb’s story. And in Salt Lick, Allison does deliver a dogged kind of hope for her strange trio of wandering central characters.

Beyond that, she delivers bewitchingly beautiful prose; her first page is a masterclass in description.

By Lulu Allison,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION

'A compelling fable of decline, a lament for a way of life, and a warning about what society is already becoming. It is a capsule of England and its dystopian present ... as sad and angry as it is memorable' Ronan Hession

'Salt Lick is that rare beast - imaginative, risky storytelling where every sentence is a gift' Heidi James

Britain is awash, the sea creeps into the land, brambles and forest swamp derelict towns. Food production has moved overseas and people are forced to move to the cities for work. The countryside…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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