I love fashion design. From checking out fashion show photos to watching the red carpet of the Oscar’s at least as avidly as the show itself, I find fashion trends and design choices fascinating. And, clearly I’m not the only one because there are plenty of great books that feature characters that share this interest. Characters are designers, models, and trendsetters throughout young adult literature and this list features a few fun examples of just this. So, whether you have already designed your first collection or you plan to watch tonight’s Project Runway season finale while yelling at your television, check out these books to get your fashion fix.
Paradise Kiss by Ai Yazawa – Yukari Hayasaka is on the standard path through school, exams, college, and on to a successful life. She may not know what she wants to do with her life, but she knows that for now she has time for nothing but her studies. That is, until, one day, she catches the attention of an ambitious group of fashion design students who want her to be their model. The series follows Yukari as she becomes increasingly immersed in these designers’ work and it is a funny and engaging look at fashion design from a student perspective. This book is also delightfully meta with references to the author peppered throughout. A cute read for fashion and manga fans alike.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins – Lola might not actually like being included in this list, since she says “I don’t believe in fashion. I believe in costume. Life is too short to be the same person every day.” But, even if she doesn’t think of her outfits as fashion, they will appeal to readers who love fashion. Throughout the book, there are plenty of great descriptions of her outfits and the costumes she creates for herself. All of this is, of course, happening in a book that also includes a great romance story and a host of relatable family members and side characters.
Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger – After first seeing this book, I could not wait to read it and it definitely did not disappoint. Focusing on the period of Dior’s life when he built his fashion house, this book brings to life an important figure in fashion history through the eyes of a fictional character. Best of all, Goetzinger uses an art style that is very reminiscent of classic fashion illustrations, which complements her subject matter perfectly and will appeal to fashion fans.
Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick – With this book, Rudnick uses the fashion world as a setting for a story that is really about what true happiness and success are. It follows Becky who leaves her small town life after her mother’s death to follow the promise of a famed, yet mysterious, fashion designer who offers to make her the most beautiful woman in the world. More social commentary than a story about the fashion industry, this is nevertheless an interesting read for those who want to contemplate questions of beauty, happiness, success, and finding real meaning in life.
So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld – In a world full of Innovators, Trendsetters, and Early Adopters, Hunter works helping to find new examples of “coolness” (though he hates the word cool) for marketers. This job garners him tons of freebies, from phones, to shoes, to clothes. But, it isn’t all fun and games when one of the people he works with disappears under mysterious circumstances. As he and his new friend, an Innovator named Jen, try to figure out what is going on, they will find out that there is much more going on in the world of marketing than they ever realized.
Tori by Design by Colleen Nelson – This book is the next one on my to-be-read list and it sounds very interesting. Tori is a young girl with a talent for fashion design. Her supportive parents decide to move to New York City so that she can go to a high school with connections to the Fashion Institute of Technology. The book follows her after this move as she works to achieve her dream.
Do you prefer to check out pictures and videos of actual fashions? There are a lot of great websites specializing in just these sorts of items. Here are a few to get you started:
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers images of many items from their collections online, including their costume collection and their shoe collection.
- The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is known for its clothing and textile collection and has a special part of their website devoted to fashion.
- Prada has made their online archive available to all.
- British Pathe offers an archive of fashion-related videos.
These are just a few options for all the fashion fans out there, but I am sure that there are plenty more. Let me know your own favorites in the comments!
– Carli Spina, currently reading The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness