Wednesday, 15 January 2014

10 Great Books for Fashion Students

I noticed that I have gathered quite a collection of great fashion books over the years ranging from an introduction into the industry to illustration to sewing tips. Today I thought I'd share 10 books that I believe an aspiring fashion student should make their bible. These books vary in subject from introductions, designers, illustration, pattern cutting and sewing to printing.

1. The Fundamentals of Fashion Design by Richard Sorger and Jenny Udale

I thought I'd start with a book I purchased when I was at college, thinking about a fashion degree. The world of fashion seemed so daunting and confusing and I felt I didn't know enough about the industry. I bought this book as an introduction and insight into the area as a whole - and the book didn't disappoint!

The chapters range from the research and design stage right through to construction and development of a collection. The chapters themselves are very informative yet easy to grasp, easing you into the subject. 

The first chapter teaches you to know your subject, highlighting some great magazines to read. It talks through the concept stage and gives you some ideas for sources of inspiration. In terms of design, it covers everything from silhouettes, proportion and line to fabric, colour and texture. 


Two of the most useful parts of the book for me were the sections on creating a portfolio and tools and media. The fashion portfolio was one of the areas I was most scared of and I hadn't had any previous lessons in Textiles on this part of the process even though it is vital. In the book you are talked through what makes a good portfolio and what you should include. Not only does it cover graduate portfolios but designer and industry portfolios too. 


The tools section gives a description of different media and goes on to explain what it is good for. Media covers things like paintbrushes, pens, rubbers, and paint that are good for sketchbooks and illustration work. Tools covers the pattern master, tracing wheel, shears and different machinery used in the construction process.


These are just some of the great chapters in this book and there are so many more that I would love to highlight but you'll just have to buy it for yourselves and discover just how helpful this book is! A very informative and thorough guide for students new to fashion.



2. Fashion Design by Sue Jenkyn Jones

This book is for anyone who is serious about becoming a designer. Like the book above, it covers all areas of fashion but it goes into even more detail and covers some more topics such as the history of fashion, production industry and interviews. In the introduction the book asks you if you've got what it takes, listing key personal qualities and skills you need in order to be successful (and survive!) in the fashion industry. As I said, this book is for serious readers only. It then goes on to describe the university syllabus and topics that you are likely to cover.

The first chapter of the book covers context, giving you a historical background of fashion and providing you with a timeline that highlights key events, designers and styles through history. This chapter gives you sound knowledge and provides a good base for you to start understanding design. It also covers the uses of fashion, fashion cities and the fashion calendar.


The next chapter is about manufacture and market. Here you learn about the types of producers and retailers as well as pricing and branding. This gives you more of a business perspective on the industry.


Chapter three is on drawing and illustration, teaching you about proportion, gesture and design development. As well as hand drawing, it covers CAD drawings and specs too. It then goes on to touch on the elements of design such as silhouette, line and texture.


Colour and fabric is the next lesson which gives you a detailed explanation on how colour works together and different fabric types right from the fibres and construction of different materials to their finishes. This chapter also covers how to build your range and the different sorts of fabric suppliers.


In chapter five you will learn about studio practice, covering tools, sizing, pattern drafting, toiling, tailoring, sewing and fit amongst other things.


The book then goes on to describe the project from inspiration, personal creativity and style to presentation and assessment. 


The final chapter describes the final project and what happens after you graduate. This is something I love about this book, it helps you through every single stage of your journey to becoming a designer. As well as portfolio advice it gives you information on placements and internships and tips for interviews including how to write a CV.


But this book doesn't stop there - it just keeps on giving! At the end you will find a very informative glossary with hundreds of key fashion terms and definitions. As well as this you are given a few pages on useful addresses, popular fabric types, museums, suppliers, films and further reading. An overall gem of a book!

3. Fashion Now: i-D Selects the World's 150 Most Important Designers by Ed. Terry Jones and Avril Mair

This book is like a dictionary of all the designers you may ever want to look up. I've had this book for a few years now and I still have more to discover. Quite a big book with some great fashion photography inside. Each designer's mini profile includes an interview about signature styles and influences. A great resource for quick facts about brands and finding new designers to research.





4. 50 Fashion Designers You Should Know by Simone Werle

Another good book for getting to know more about some well-known designers. When I first started, I had a very faint idea about the big fashion names I'd heard but I didn't understand their styles and brand identities. This comes with time as you research more into the industry when completing your own projects. Looking at other designer's work helps you learn about what works well as well as giving you an idea of what's already out there so you can try and create something new and innovative. A lot of the time, you'll find a designer you connect with who shares the same inspiration and you can research more into their ideas which often sparks a new idea for your own work. This book is a great resource to help you learn about some key designers who shaped the industry.





5. Fashion Design Drawing Course by Caroline Tatham and Julian Seaman

This was the first book I bought when I decided I needed to brush up on my fashion illustration. An educational read taking you through the process of illustrating and communicating your work visually. Starting with the inspiration stage, this book touches on where to find inspiration, creating mood boards and designing fabric ideas.


Chapter two goes into the technical side of a drawing, looking at proportion, experiment with media, life drawing, collage, layout and illustrating print.


Next, you learn about planning and designing from creating cohesive collections, designing to a brief, the customer, colour and fabric.


Finally, the last chapter teaches you to communicate your vision with working drawings, presentations and personal style.


A brilliant book that aids you through the whole process of visually communicating your ideas.

6. Figure Drawing for Fashion Design by Elisabetta 'Kuky' Drudi and Tiziana Paci

This book focuses more on the actual drawing and I was so delighted to see how much detail it goes into! Every single element of the drawing is taken into consideration from features, gestures and poses to colour, fabric folds and garment styles. An essential for aspiring illustrators.

The introduction explains the ideals of beauty through the ages illustrated with sketches before moving onto chapter one: drawing the female figure. Explained here is proportion, perspective, facial features, light and shade and the draping of clothes. When I say this book goes into detail, I mean every single part of the body has its own section focused on it from every angle from the nose, eyes and mouth to legs, arms and feet.



Next you will learn about poses, styles and the addition of colour. Then, types of clothing styles and prints. Details such as drawstring, lace, and chains are looked into.


Chapter four focuses on drawing garments looking at different cuts, darts, fit, trimming, pleats, pockets, fastenings, stitches and many more!



This book is such a great resource as it focuses on every last detail of your drawing looking at the body and the garment down to the smallest stitch.

7. Pattern Magic/Pattern Magic 2 by Tomoko Nakamichi

These books are inspirational pattern cutting, thinking outside the box and creating what seems impossible. They talk you through some very interesting techniques to try and how to construct them. I use this book for construction inspiration and to open my eyes to new methods I wasn't aware of. I recommend this book to anyone who has a good understanding of pattern cutting as it is quite technical and skilled. I only bought these books in my second year of university.





8. New Complete Guide to Sewing by The Reader's Digest

Complete Guide to Sewing does exactly what it says on the cover. Good for anything you need to refresh your mind on, this book gives you a step-by-step guide on construction. It starts off with sewing equipment and fabric you should use to suit the task at hand. A range of fabrics with their properties and uses is described.


Next you learn about cutting and fit, going through size guidelines and what pattern markings mean. It teaches you about all basics to begin pattern cutting including fabric grains, folding and pattern layout for cutting. 

Essential stitches and seams are described including how to produce them before covering how to finish off garments.



Also included throughout the book are various projects such as the evening blouse, pleated skirt and lace blouse. These projects provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to put the garment together. These are especially useful as I have used them when creating my own garments. All I have to do is find the closest project to to what I am creating and follow the guidelines, adjusting it to my own pattern. A great book when it's hard to remember all the instructions you are bombarded with in your sewing classes.


One subject that most people find hard to remember is the meticulous process in creating a tailored garment. Tailoring requires a lot of skill and attention to detail so the section of tailoring in this book was very useful at reminding me about all the small, important details!


9. Mastering the Art of Fabric Printing and Design by Laurie Wisburn

First of all I apologise for the condition of this book, when I received it, it was soaking wet! Damn weather. I spent a good hour drying each page with a hairdryer.... but at least that gave me a good insight into what the book contained!

This book really is only for anyone interested in print design but almost every student will experiment with print at some point or other. Great book for textile students as well. Starting with understanding patterns, this book takes you through different motifs, textures, repeat types, directions and colour schemes.



Next, it focuses on sourcing inspiration with the difference between plagiarism and inspiration which is a very important factor in designing print. It teaches you how to build mood boards, design different types of patterns by hand and on the computer. 




As well as in depth processes explained, a few print designer interviews are given. This book is really good to use when developing your print designs.

10. The Language of Clothes by Alison Lurie

This book is slightly different to the rest in that it isn't about the aspects in how to become a designer but just a really good read! It explains the meaning of fashion. I actually bought this book to help me write an article I was working on about the psychology of fashion and it was beyond useful. The book covers how clothing is a language that communicates a lot more about us than we ever thought. It explains how clothing is a sign system giving away information about our work, status and gender.


Chapter two describes the difference in clothing between youth and age including what it means when people dress older or younger than their age. 

The next chapter looks into how fashion has changed through time and how the meaning of different fashions have adapted and evolved.

The book goes on to discuss fashion and place, time, status, opinion, colour, pattern, gender and sex. A really great insight into the human mind through the eyes of fashion.




If you are interested in this topic you may want to read my article, Enclothed Cognition.

I hope this post has been useful and given you some good books to go and explore, aiding you to become a designer. If you are interested in finding some more sources of inspiration read my post about where to find creative design inspiration.


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