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12 fashion books to splurge on to prove you can actually read

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From Versace tomes, to IDEA monographs, and cultural deep dives, that’s one for each day of Christmas

Can fashion people read? The high street isn’t convinced. Traditionally, the fashion section of any major bookshop comprises a (very) sparse bookcase with titles that look as though they’ve been sourced from a carboot sale. Hidden away in the basement or crammed into some far off corner, the love given to these shelves reads as a pitiful allegory for the way in which wider society views the industry. Like in Waterstones Gower Street, where the fashion department doubles as an enclave to the toilets. Where “Art and Architecture” is lined with criticism and the voices of trailblazing tastemakers, “Fashion” is home to Witty Quotes and Wise Words from Coco Chanel and A Beginner’s Guide to Cross Stitch. Don’t judge a book by its cover but when they’re adorned with glitter pink stilettos or the smirk of a mid-aughts TV stylist, you get the impression that just about everyone else does.

Yet the marriage of books and looks has proved a powerful one this year, with the rich bitch teens of Gossip Girl and White Lotus toting Eve Babitz, Elena Ferrante, Kennedy Fraser, and Nietzsche as if they were Chiquitos or Motorcycle bags. It’s a phenomenon which came to an unfortunate head when Emily Ratajowski released a collection of entirely underwhelming essays, which lacked both self awareness and thoughtful critique. The desire to telegraph cultural capital is so widespread, in fact, that people are even faking Tom Ford tomes on TikTok. Perhaps that’s to do authors a disservice, though, given that the past twelve months have seen the publication of brilliant fashion titles like What Artists Wear, The Ten, and behemoth brand bibles from Alexander Fury and Tim Blanks. Below, we round up the best in shop from fat, coffee table tomes, to cult monographs, and chin scratchy, cultural deep dives.