The Best Biographies of Fashion Icons


Readers who want to catch up on their favourite fashion icons now have several biographies to choose from. Ranging from Diana Vreeland to Audrey Hepburn, these biographies capture the intimate portraits of fashion’s greatest icons.

D.V. by Diana Vreeland

The only autobiography on this list, D.V. was written by Diana Vreeland. This amazing book is full of stories of her bizarre childhood in France. It follows her hilarious path through England and New York. For fashion lovers, it includes stories of her work as editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. Like many autobiographies, this one does not entirely stick to the facts. It goes through an exaggerated story of her curing Jack Nicholson’s back pain and her sighting of the Mona Lisa right before it was stolen in 1911. Despite the exaggerations, the book has a witty way of detailing her life so it feels like she is in the room telling the story.

The Versace Legend

Written by Minnie Gastel, this book traces the development of Gianni Versace. He began his life in Reggio Calabria, Italy and moved to Milan for his first shows. Boasting of an impressive knowledge of world culture, Versace became one of the most talented members of the fashion world. Throughout his life, his designs were worn by Elton John, Elizabeth Hurley and Princess Diana. This biography explores the relationships he had with his lovers and family as it looks through his grandiose lifestyle.

Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life

Unlike other books about Coco Chanel, Justine Picardie’s stands out due to its interesting writing style and brevity. It recounts stories from the designer’s life and shows illustrations of her designs. Supported by the Chanel brand, this biography steers clear of some of the controversies surrounding Coco. This makes it one of the most accurate biographies available on her. It beautifully details her life growing up in an orphanage in France and how that influenced her later designs.

 Audrey Hepburn

Barry Paris is a noted fan of Audrey Hepburn. As a follower of her Hollywood career and an aficionado of her style, Paris begins the biography with a look at her childhood in the Netherlands. After aiding the Dutch resistance, Hepburn moved on to a Hollywood career where she won an Oscar for her work in Roman Holiday. His look at her life gives a different slant to one of fashion’s most beloved style icons, illustrating how her introverted personality began during war time. Paris gleans information from interviews and articles to make a comprehensive look at Audrey Hepburn’s exceptional later life.

Isabella Blow: A Life in Fashion

Written by Lauren Goldstein Crowe, this biography looks at the intimate life of one of Paris’s most eccentric of fashion editors. It relives her sense of whimsy and the unusual styles that made her famous. Much has been written on Blow’s final suicide attempt and Crowe explores the self-destructive parts of Isabella Blow’s nature that led to her death. Born in a noble British family, Isabella Blow lived in poverty for much of her childhood life. She became devoted to fashion later on and was famous for her uniquely designed fascinators. Crowe follows her discovery of Alexander McQueen and the dangerous life Isabella made for herself.

The Beautiful Fall

Unlike the other biographies, this one follows the lives of two of French fashion designers. The writer, Alicia Drake, focusses on the development of Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. It concentrates on the rivalry which heated up between them in Paris in the 1970s. These two geniuses both possessed a host of models and socialites within their social circles. Drake follows the path these opposing designers take as they enter the drug-crazed world of Paris. It talks about some of the notorious parties they attended and the impressive fashion collections they developed.

For the true fashion lover, the biographies of these iconic individuals are a must-read. They bring to life the past and illustrate the personalities behind the public personas. 

This guest post was supplied by Joe Shervell for

Naomi Watts recalls the glamour of Diana

During the last week, whilst I was enjoying a family holiday, I have been engrossed on a daily basis with the pictures that have been emerging from the film set of ‘Caught in Flight’. For those unfamiliar with that title, this is the film of the last few years of the life of Diana, Princess of Wales covering the events leading up to her tragic death in that Parisian tunnel in 1997, with thelate Princess being portrayed by a uncannily Diana -Like Naomi Watts.

I was a huge fan of the late Princess of Wales from the day she stepped out of that carriage at St Paul’s cathedral in that crumpled wedding dress, and I adore looking at images of her impeccable style. Some of the images from the 1980s have dated somewhat, but by 1996-1997 Diana was no longer married to Prince Charles and feeling compelled to buy and wear British designers. This was a time when Gianni Versace became a Diana favourite, when Diana auctioned off her dress collection for charity, and embraced a new, younger and far sexier style.

Now. looking at some of the looks recreated for the upcoming film, it is clear that, 15 years on, these styles haven’t dated, they still look chic and fresh, and show that Diana was a woman who had a classic elegance that remains timeless. A particular favourite has to be the totally stunning Versace one shouldered dress in vibrant blue. This was a killer dress 15 years ago, and remains so today.

Other styles have been recreated, including dresses from Catherine Walker, the Panorama suit, and pretty floral shift dresses. Melissa Odabash has been tasked with recreating swimsuits similar to those Diana wore on the Al Fayed yacht in that fateful summer. There is no doubt that the finished movie will be seriously stylish, even if it has the most heartbreaking of endings.

If you are a fan of Diana style, there are some amazing books out there with plenty of pictures for timeless royal inspiration. Here are a few I would definitely recommend.

Diana Fashion and Style [Paperback £9.06 click to visit Amazon

Dressing Diana (Diana Princess of Wales) [Illustrated

Diana Style [Hardcover

This book is also absolutely fabulous, featuring Diana, Kate Middleton, Princess Grace of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock amongst others. I read this recently during a trip to Wales and was totally absorbed by the style of these ladies. High recommended.

Royal Style: A History of Aristocratic Fashion Icons £17.49 click to visit Amazon



Style Icon of the Month August – Lady Gaga.

Lady GaGa visit Sweden at Sommarkrysset, Gröna...

Image via Wikipedia

I have always admired Lady Gaga has an icon of style. But rather like the  way you admire Erno Goldfinger‘s tower blocks, but wouldn’t want to live in them, I admired Gaga’s crazy meat dresses, sequined lobster hats and crazy shoes, but could never see anyone else wearing them. But this is the month when I’ve had to say – Gaga – you look great, and I would definitely wear that dress!

This seems to be the month when Gaga has grown into a beautiful lady, and it seems to be with some thanks to Donatella Versace. Donatella gave Gaga access to the Versace archives earlier this Summer. At first this led to a series of those early 1990s garish coloured silk blouses and skirts, but lately Gaga has opted for a series of shift dresses with pencil straight skirts, one shouldered evening dresses and block colour gowns that just seem to enhance her looks and her figure. She is making a fashion impression without causing style controversy – and I, for one, really like it.

There have been a few dissenters about the Lady’s new look – is Gaga morphing into Donatella? Isn’t this a bit conservative for Gaga – is this better suited to the kooky – but not too Kooky Gwen Stefani. My answer would be an emphatic no! Gaga has  looked great this month, and the blue suit – blue tights-nipple patch combo proves she’s not going to be buying a twinset and pearls anytime soon. But it has been lovely to see the Lady wearing something that makes her look like a Lady, rather than some mad invention!

Not quite conservative yet!