A new Fashion bible from DK Books

London Fashion Week wraps up today – but there is no reason to be blue. If you didn’t go this time (or you didn’t go to as much as you wanted thanks to work/childcare/never-finding-time-to-request-show-tickets), I can suggest the next best thing: A brand new fashion bible that is every bit as jaw-dropping as a catwalk moment…

With a foreword by the ever-fashionable Caryn Franklin (my kind of expert) Fashion is a heavy, glossy, 480-page mega-book detailing the history of fashion from “the draped fabrics of ancient times to the catwalk sensations of the new millennium” – that’s over 3,000 years of sartorial twists and turns.

Published yesterday, there are over 1,500 outfits in this bumper fashion bonanza. The images are drool-worthy and the fashion icons profiled range from Elizabeth I to Vivienne Westwood; from Marie-Antoinette to Twiggy (shown in the book wearing a pink pinafore-style mini dress, white tights, silver shoes and bauble earrings – I intend to wholeheartedly rip off this look for my sixties party in November).

Walking for Vivienne Westwood’s Red Label, AW10/11

As well as inspiration, the book also provides a detailed history: If you’ve never thought about the influence of classic Greek drapery, or the origins of an embellished suit (we’re talking Baroque and Rococo, baby), prepare to be educated.

Although I’m going to be recommending the title to my fashion journalism students (I’m due to start lecturing again next month and will also use Fashion for pre-class swotting-up) this isn’t a book for boffins. It’s a glorious celebration of fashion and I haven’t stopped staring at the pretty pictures. Far more exciting than your average reference book, it covers male and female fashion (how long have I waited for Renaissance men and Henry VIII to be recognised as fashion icons?), is stuffed with startling images, has a fabulous glossary and is written in a straightforward, non-pretentious style – hallelujah!

Chapters on street style, boho chic and catwalk superstars bring things bang up-to-date, and as for the dream dresses…well, you can guess.

Fashion is a justifiable £30 and published by DK – I’m deffo tipping it as a Christmas prezzie for fashion lovers and if I go missing at some point over the next few weeks, you’ll know I’m squirrelled away somewhere, reading it from cover-to-cover.

A return to Grecian elegance by the formidable French designer Madeleine Vionnet (c1931)

Images taken from “Fashion” courtesy of DK Books / Corbis

Written by Johanna Payton