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French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent with a group of models, circa 1960. Photo: Archive Photos/Getty Images

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Spring 2022’s Best Style Books

10 fashionable tomes that will make you think twice about what you wear / BY Nathalie Atkinson / May 20th, 2022


As the rain tapers off and temperatures rise, we begin the annual rite of changing out our winter wardrobe for summer clothes. As you organize your closet, consider the message you are sending through your garments, as these writers do in parsing the sartorial influence of artists, royals and fashion celebrities.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image.

1What Artists Wear by Charlie Porter

This book is like having a great conversation with your brainiest fashion friend. Porter, an English critic and curator, considers the unspoken sartorial language of clothes – as opposed to fashion – that are bought, worn and given meaning by the wearer. In this case, he examines artists such as Francis Bacon, Louise Bourgeois, Jean-Michel Basquiat and what their choice in everyday, ordinary clothes tell us about who’s wearing them.


2Africa: The Fashion Continent by Emmanuelle Courrèges

This beautiful book by a French journalist who grew up between Senegal, Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire averts the Western gaze and invites an exploration of African style through profiles of designers, artisans, shops, street style, stylists and photographers from Accra to Cape Town and Lagos.


3The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style by Bethan Holt

The fashion and features director at The Telegraph, a U.K. newspaper, previously weighed in on royal style with a book unpacking a decade of the Duchess of Cambridge’s closet. For the Queen’s Jubilee, Holt shares stories of Her Majesty’s wardrobe, including the messages communicated by her most memorable looks, from the Norman Hartnell Coronation gown that took nine weeks, six embroiderers and 3,000 hours to complete to the so-called Harlequin dress, just one of her colourful and witty evening gowns from the 1990s.


4Anna: The Biography by Amy O’Dell

It takes former Vanity Fair editor Dana Brown two full pages in his new memoir Dilettante to detail the stage management around Anna Wintour’s standing lunchtime cappuccino order at the Royalton Hotel’s restaurant 44, and the particulars speak volumes about the Vogue editor-in-chief’s status, power and expectations. So it takes this bio more than 400 pages to detail how the English-born daughter of a Fleet Street newspaperman came to rule New York publishing, society and business circles. American journalist O’Dell, founding editor of New York magazine’s influential fashion vertical, The Cut, and former editor of Cosmopolitan.com, interviewed dozens of friends, associates, and even a few enemies to chart Wintour’s rise to icon. Read Zoomer’s interview with O’Dell here.


5i-D: Wink and Smile! edited by Alastair McKimm

When turned on its side, i-D magazine’s logo represents a wink and smile — “the original emoji,” as current editor-in-chief McKimm writes in his foreword. In the pre-internet era, the revolutionary hand-stapled underground zine had one mantra: find fashion at its source, because new ideas are born on the street. British Vogue editor Edward Enninful was its fashion director 20 years ago, and he is among the names and past issues chronicled in this 40th anniversary tome, with appreciations from Sade, Raf Simons, Helmut Lang, Kate Moss and more.


6Lee Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse edited by Clarissa M. Esguerra and Michaela Hansen

More than a decade after his death by suicide at 40, we are still enthralled with the fashion designer’s life and work. Published as a companion to the current exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (on view until Oct. 9), which contextualizes his work within art history by pairing his iconic clothes with art and objects from the museum collection, this thoughtful exploration interprets McQueen’s work through the lens of his inspiration, methods and influences.


7Perfume by Megan Volpert

“It doesn’t take an expert to fathom the complexity of fragrance, only a willing spirant,” Volpert – a professor of interdisciplinary studies based in Atlanta – explains in the introduction to her slim, but fascinating, entry in the Object Lessons books series about the hidden lives of ordinary things. For a perfect pairing, read Elise Vernon Pearlstine’s comprehensive new book Scent: A Natural History of Fragrance, which explores human perceptions of scent through accessible botany: the raw materials, pollinators and plants that have inspired natural perfumers like her throughout history.


8The Fashion Show: The Stories, Invites, and Art of 300 Landmark Shows by Iain R. Webb

Louis Vuitton’s invitation was a “Will Return” sign with a clock and moveable arms. Gucci sent a packet of flower bulbs. When COVID-19 curtailed in-person fashion presentations, in lieu of a live runway show, Loewe printed a 64-page broadsheet newspaper with an excerpt from Danielle Steel’s latest novel and details of its runway collection. Webb, a former fashion editor now teaching at London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins art school, makes canny selections showing the inventive ways designers invited audiences to collections, and browsing these artifacts is the next best thing to perching in the front row.


9Worn: A People’s History of Clothing by Sofi Thanhauser

Getting dressed is a political act, according to Thanhauser, a teacher at New York’s Pratt Institute. She tells a panoramic history of clothing through six fibres – linen, cotton, silk, wool and synthetics (rayon and nylon) – and makes a compelling case by charting the ethics of the evolution from handmade to manufactured clothes, including the impact and cost of textile production on the environment, the colonized and the poor. She also details various subcultures (like denim heads, for example), whose enthusiasms have helped revive or maintain niche production models.


10YSL Lexicon edited by Martina Mondadori and Stephan Janson

For the 60th anniversary of Yves Saint Laurent’s first runway presentation, this colourful abecedary of the late Algerian-born French designer’s inspirations distills and celebrates his life’s work, and features many images from his extraordinary archives, plus contributions from friends, muses and tastemakers.


THE SCROLL

Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


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