Novels are all well and good, but who doesn’t love a coffee table book? And when it comes to publications to digest and display in equal measure, spectacular coffee table tomes all about style are the books you’ll want to pore over hour after hour. Forget Netflix and put away your phone, these recent fashion books will inspire, captivate and fascinate…

All About Yves – Catherine Örmen

Perfect for: Anyone frequently spotted at fashion-related exhibitions and interested in behind-the-scenes fashion processes.

This book is not just a visual treat for fans of Yves Saint Laurent; it’s a tactile, interactive tome that you’ll pore over long after Christmas morning, kind of an adult fashionista’s equivalent of The Jolly Postman books. Örmen combines intelligent and thoughtful narrative on the designer’s life with pull-out sections, such as reproductions of letters, paper fashion dolls, Polaroids and catwalk show prints. You know deep down they’re not the real thing, but holding these pieces of history feels special regardless.

In All About Yves, Örmen has really combed the archives and covered every part of Saint Laurent’s story, from his love of costume design to his fundraising work for Aids charities, and his trend-setting abilities, bringing us the jumpsuit, the famous Le Smoking tuxedo, and the repurposed safari jacket.

With two new Yves Saint Laurent museums having opened in Paris and Marrakech, the book’s English language publication has been timed to coincide with the increased hype over this monumental designer, and it matches his levels of ingenuity and class. If you’re a fashion addict yourself, buy two copies of All About Yves, as you won’t want to give it up.

London Uprising: Fifty Fashion Designers, One City – Tania Fares and Sarah Mower

Perfect for: Anyone who believes London isn’t the style capital of the world. Prove them wrong with this contemporary fashion bible.

The authors’ names alone should pique your curiosity: Tania Fares is a contributing editor at Vogue and the co-founder of the British Fashion Council Fashion Trust. Sarah Mower MBE is a respected fashion journalist and critic (the chief critic at Vogue.com, no less), and a visiting professor at Central Saint Martins in London. They’ve combined their eye for talent and dispatched leading fashion writers, such as Tamsin Blanchard and Melanie Rickey, to interview fifty of London’s coolest modern designers.

London Uprising is mainly produced on brown paper, typeset in a traditional typewriter-style font, as though you’re reading a secret report; there’s even a map of designers’ London studios at the front, proving fashion really is a city-wide concern. Not only is the book heavyweight in terms of content, but it’s physically heavy, at 2.54kg, so perhaps one to get delivered rather than one to lug around the capital.

London Uprising is also one in the eye for Brexiteers, presenting London as a melting pot of culture, heritage and creativity enhanced by many different nations. It’s impossible to imagine British fashion without Roksanda Ilinčić (born in Serbia), Peter Jensen (Denmark) and Mary Katrantzou (Greece). Each interview is a pin-sharp portrait, explaining how the designer’s work evolved, and what drives them, alongside background information – did you know Katrantzou’s grandfather ran a sportswear department store in Athens, and his own sports shoe brand? Consider this a primer in London’s fashion credentials, and swot up accordingly.

Rebel Threads: Clothing of the Bad, Beautiful & Misunderstood – Roger K Burton

Perfect for: Vintage clothing and flea market fans; people curious about the social history of what we wear, and the evolution of trends from underground movements.

Roger K Burton has over half a century’s experience in collecting vintage and contemporary clothing – he made his name as a costume designer, stylist and purveyor of the very best vintage threads. Who better, then, to present a history of the most rebellious clothing styles of the 1940s-1980s?
Burton’s writing style is lively and chatty, featuring anecdotes about his relationship with fashion over the years. For example, the old red and white shirts he bought in Portsmouth during the 70s, which Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood also sourced as material for their shop, Seditionaries. If you’ve read other books on fashion trends from the same era, you will, of course, notice parallels, but Rebel Threads remains fresh, with plenty of insight into the growth of Carnaby Street, mods vs. rockers, and the rise in punk. Rebel Threads might not be quite as tactile as All About Yves or London Uprising, but it remains engaging.

I was surprised to learn that some rockers wore Nazi insignia that their dads had recovered from the Germans during WWII. It’s understandable that bystanders wouldn’t enjoy SS insignia emblazoned on a leather jacket or, in the chapter ‘Their Satanic Majesties: Drag and Dandies’, a mention of Brian Jones from the Rolling Stones clad in an SS uniform – it doesn’t seem edgy or cool at all, just offensive. Thankfully, Burton gives far more attention to the genuinely fun and uplifting pieces he’s amassed, and it’s a joy to see his collection in detail.