This winter’s most stylish fashion books revisit the greats, from Coco Chanel to Karl Lagerfeld

Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld are the subjects of the season’s most transporting fashion books, ready to sustain the style-conscious bibliophile through the cold winter months

Karl Lagerfeld features in one of Winter 2023’s best fashion books
A self-portrait of Karl Lagerfeld at Versailles, taken for his Wallpaper* October 2009 guest edit. His glamourous portfolio of homes (some inspired by the French palace) appear in new book ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Houses’
(Image credit: Photography by Karl Lagerfeld)

As much as the final weeks of the year are synonymous with celebration, they equally mark a moment of much-needed relaxation and reset: the perfect time to put down the iPhone and catch up with a new book (all the better if it provides inspiration for the imminent year ahead). 

Here, for the style-conscious bibliophile, an assortment of new fashion books released this winter, each of which provides a new insight into the greats of fashion – whether Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Karl Lagerfeld, Hubert de Givenchy, or more contemporary figures, from Alexander McQueen to Thom Browne. 

Together, they provide not only a stylish reading list to see you through winter’s darkest days – whether through comprehensive deep dives or glossy, transporting photobooks – but a stylish adornment for coffee tables and bookshelves alike.  

Winter 2023’s best fashion books

Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Houses (Thames & Hudson)

Karl Lagerfeld Houses Book

Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Houses (Thames & Hudson)

(Image credit: Courtesy of Thames & Hudson)

Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion oeuvre is well-known, all the more so after a blockbuster retrospective – and the accompanying Lagerfeld-themed Met Gala – which took place at New York’s Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and spanned tenures at Chloé, Fendi and Chanel. 

A new book, Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Houses (Thames & Hudson) offers a lesser-seen glimpse at the designer’s domestic life, charting the glamourous portfolio of international homes that Lagerfeld resided in across his prolific career. Expect a suitably liberated use of colour and print – an apt reflection of his collections – alongside an extraordinary array of design objects, whether his Memphis-filled Monaco apartment or the 18th-century interiors of Hôtel Pozzo di Borgo, opulent enough to rival his beloved Versailles. Read more

Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Houses, with text by Patrick Mauriès and Marie Kalt, is available now from Waterstones and Barnes & Noble

Gabrielle Chanel (V&A Publishing)

Gabrielle Chanel Book

Gabrielle Chanel (V&A Publishing)

(Image credit: Courtesy of V&A)

Lagerfeld‘s forebear Coco Chanel – an equally enduring fashion figure – is the subject of an expansive new tome published by the V&A to coincide with the London institution’s own blockbuster exhibition on the designer, Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto, which opened this past September (until 26 February 2024). Titled ‘Gabrielle Chanel’, the suitably chic book hones in not on the couturier’s well-documented life, but the garments themselves, which heralded a new era for women’s fashion. 

‘She defined her approach to fashion quite early on,’ Oriole Cullen, the exhibition’s creator and co-editor of the book, told Wallpaper* earlier this year after an exclusive look inside the V&A archive. ‘It’s about chic, simple clothing, looking at movement and the body. These elements she creates – the jersey, the little black dress, the suit – these are the things she comes back to time and again and refines them.’

Spanning her 60 years in fashion, and featuring garments from the Chanel Patrimoine in Paris and the V&A, the 288-page book is one of the most complete catalogues of couturier’s designs yet, providing more than enough material to delight even the most fastidious style aficionado. Read more.

Gabrielle Chanel, edited by Oriole Cullen and Connie Karol Burks, is available now from Waterstones and Barnes & Noble.

Givenchy Catwalk: The Complete Collections (Thames & Hudson)

Givenchy Catwalk Book

Givenchy Catwalk: The Complete Collections (Thames & Hudson)

(Image credit: Courtesy of Thames & Hudson)

The latest instalment of Thames & Hudson’s ‘Catwalk’ series – which documents every show and collection from a fashion house or designer – turns its lens to Givenchy, a house synonymous with Parisian style and refinement. Beginning with house founder Hubert de Givenchy – who famously outfitted close friend Audrey Hepburn in some of her most enduring looks – it goes on to explore tenures by fashion iconoclasts John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Riccardo Tisci, alongside more recent creative directors Clare Waight Keller and Matthew M Williams (who earlier this month announced his departure from the house). 

‘In all its purity, I think Hubert created one of the most complex legacies in fashion, because it reaches far beyond dressmaking,’ explained Anders Christian Madsen, one of the book’s co-authors, to Wallpaper* earlier this year. ‘It’s an aesthetic that came to be synonymous with sophistication and good taste, and those set ideas are hard to mess with.’ Read more.

Givenchy Catwalk: The Complete Collections, featuring texts by Alexandre Samson and Anders Christian Madsen, is available at Waterstonesand Barnes & Noble.

Yves Saint Laurent: Gold (Abrams)

Saint Laurent Gold Book

Yves Saint Laurent: Gold (Abrams)

(Image credit: Courtesy of Abrams)

‘I love gold, it’s a magical colour; when reflecting a woman, it’s the color of the sun.’ So said Yves Saint Laurent of his love of the gilded hue, which appeared throughout his collections, a facet of his oeuvre explored in Yves Saint Laurent: Gold, which arrived in bookshops this past October. The official accompaniment to ‘Gold, les ors d’Yves Saint Laurent’, which took place at Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, the book nonetheless stands as a glamourous standalone catalogue of some of the designer’s most enduring looks featuring suitably glamourous cameos from Zizi Jeanmaire and Catherine Deneuve. Think of it as jewellery for your bookshelf – perfect for fashion magpies.

Yves Saint Laurent: Gold, featuring texts by Yvane Jacob and Elsa Janssen, is available at Waterstones and Barnes & Noble.

Shoes A-Z, the Manolo Blahnik Edition (Taschen)

Manolo Blahnik Shoes A-Z book

Shoes A-Z, the Manolo Blahnik Edition (Taschen)

(Image credit: Courtesy of Taschen)

Shoes A-Z – which captures the vast collection of footwear in The Museum at FIT’s expansive collection – remains one of the most comprehensive books on the evocative accessory, spanning designs from Ferragamo, Chanel, Gucci, Saint Laurent, Christian Louboutin, Vivienne Westwood and plenty more (Taschen, the publisher, describes it as a glimpse ‘inside one of the world’s most enviable closets’). 

A rare, limited-edition version of the book comes complete with three prints by contemporary fashion’s most lauded shoemaker, Manolo Blahnik. Printed on cotton paper by Fabriano and housed in a gilded ribbon-fastening portfolio, the 1000-edition version of the classic tome will satiate the most avid of shoe addicts.

Shoes A-Z. The Collection of The Museum at FIT. Manolo Blahník Edition, an edition of 1000, is available from Taschen.

Thom Browne: The 20th Anniversary Book (Phaidon Press)

Thom Browne Phaidon 20th Anniversary Book

Thom Browne: The 20th Anniversary Book (Phaidon Press)

(Image credit: Courtesy of Thom Browne/Phaidon)

Thom Browne – who was named part of the Wallpaper* USA 300 in the ‘Legends and Trailblazers’ category – is one of fashion’s most avid storytellers, his runway shows often taking place amid fantastical sets or drawing inspiration from fairytale, film and folklore alike. Similar flights of imagination define his most famous export: the grey suit. Shrunken in proportion, and hemmed at the ankle, the distinct silhouette has become a canvas to be dramatically riffed upon season on season.

Celebrating the brand’s 20th anniversary, a new book documents the designer’s collections, curated by the designer’s partner Andrew Bolton (who is the Wendy Yu curator in charge of the Anna Wintour Costume Centre at the Met in New York) and featuring original photography by Johnny Dufort. ‘For me, the most important thing is to tell stories and make people think in new ways,’ Browne told Wallpaper* when the book was released in October. ‘This was no different when approaching the monograph.’ Read more.

Thom Browne: The 20th Anniversary Book, by Andrew Bolton and Thom Browne, is available from Waterstones and Barnes & Noble.

Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.