Fact and fashion blur in portraits of industry’s great and good

 

As with clothes, there is a fashion tome to suit every taste. Some will become an invaluable, well-thumbed resource for students and fashion fanatics, while others present a moment of fantasy to be displayed with pride on a coffee table already groaning with beautiful books.

The legends of the fashion world are so much more than those that are borne on everything from boutiques to bags, and for many brands, maintaining those myths is a vital element of the modern-day magic. As such, separating truth from fiction is an art in itself.

The life of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel is one of the most fascinating examples of this phenomenon. As the somewhat unreliable narrator of The Allure of Chanel, by Paul Morand (Pushkin Press, £30), the designer dispels much of the fantasy that clouds her story. Composed of conversations with the strong-willed Chanel, recorded in 1946 and published in the Seventies, this reissue doesn’t disclose any new revelations, but illustrations by Karl Lagerfeld make a neat update.

It’s not just the long-dead who continue to cast a spell. The life and early death of Lee Alexander McQueen has been the subject of endless fascination since his suicide in 2010. Working Progress, with photographs by Nick Waplington (Damiani, £40) provides one of the most intimate visual portraits of the troubled designer yet, as commissioned and edited by him, allowing readers to take a privileged peek at the creation of his autumn/winter 2009 collection “The Horn of Plenty!”.

Indelibly linked with McQueen is his friend and supporter Isabella Blow, currently the subject of an exhibition at Somerset House. The accompanying catalogue Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! edited by Alistair O’Neill (Rizzoli, £40) features contributions from a range of Blow’s collaborators, friends and fans, including the Independent on Sunday’s fashion editor Alexander Fury, accompanied by beautiful images by Nick Knight.

The exhibition has had the fashion set in a reflective mood, with newspaper ink spilled like tears over the loss of an eccentric, unique talent. This tome provides a record of Blow’s life and work that is fittingly permanent, refreshingly honest and will be treasured long after the exhibition ends.

Another exhibition that caused great excitement this year was the Victoria & Albert Museum’s look at the style set of the Eighties club scene and its relationship with the catwalk. The accompanying book From Club to Catwalk, 80s Fashion, edited by Sonnet Stanfill (V&A, £19.99) is enlivened with the passion, vim and vigour of those who contributed to the scene, with images infused with the energy that seamlessly straddled partying and politics.

The well-captured commercial trials and tribulations of the decade’s emerging designers make this a helpful resource for today’s aspiring young fashion students too.

Filled with illustrations and interviews, Fashion Designers’ Sketchbooks Two, by Hywel Davies (Laurence King, £28) is another great resource for those seeking visual inspiration and encouragement, unsurprising given Davies’ long-standing role as a respected fashion educator at Central Saint Martins.

Lee Miller in Fashion, by Becky E Conekin (Thames & Hudson, £19.95) looks at the model-turned-photographer’s life in fashion both in the frame and behind the lens. Through Miller and her peers, including Dali and Picasso, the book provides a wonderful insight into the creative world of that time via Egypt, Paris and London, and a wonderful snapshot of life in Vogue.

The Anatomy of Fashion, by Colin McDowell (Phaidon, £59.95) looks with laser-like precision not only at the physical evolution of clothing, but cleverly delves into the physiology and psychology that lies beneath. The layout can be difficult to get to grips with, but a rich collection of photographs, sketches, and artworks provides a wonderful context to the esteemed author’s words.

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

music
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game