Ask any fashion aficionado… No shortlist of influential 20th Century designers would be even half complete without Christian DiorMary Quant, Elsa Schiaparelli and Barbara Hulanicki gracing the roster.

Each one of them groundbreaking in their own right, their designs and lives have fascinated and inspired generation upon generation since – and nothing grants us more of an insight into their personal philosophies than their very own autobiographies. 

Thanks to the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Fashion Perspectives, each book is being brought back to our attention, recommissioned with cover artwork from V&A Student Illustrator of the Year (2017) Beatriz Lostalé Seijo – just in time for your summer reading pleasure!

Fashion bookworms, who always show up strong to the #BecauseBookClub, will be well aware that Assouline are in the midst of releasing seven hefty coffee-table tomes dedicated to Dior's creative directors over the ages.

Adding to the Dior literature (you can never have too much of a good thing!) comes the reissuing of the 1956 style bible, Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior, which spotlights the life of its namesake French couturier founder, who shot to fame for his new look of cinched waistlines and voluminous skirts, and served at the maison’s helm from 1946 until his death in 1957.

Uncover his childhood spent in the Granville Villa on the coast of Normandy (the now Musée Christian Dior), a unique portrait of Paris haute couture in the 1950s that followed its war-torn hours of Europe, and a rare insight into his creative process.

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History proves that art and fashion are the very best bedfellows. A pioneering designer who spearheaded this burgeoning relationship is Elsa Schiaparelli, who between the 1920s and 1940s, collaborated with artists of the Surrealist and Dadaist movements including Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali and Alberto Giacometti to create masterpiece garments of a new breed.

The first to use shoulder pads, animal print and shocking pink (her signature), “Schiap” signified a shift towards fearlessness in fashion– and this attitude, coupled with her 'rags to riches' story of rat-infested Rome apartment to designer of choice for silver screen stars like Katherine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich, is charted in the Shocking Life: The Autobiography of Elsa Schiaparelli that's given a second wind from its original 1954 release.

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If there's one read to get you up to speed with the story of the seminal designer of the swingin' sixties, Mary Quant – prior to her gargantuan retrospective coming to the V&A next April (the first in almost 50 years) – it's Quant by Quant: The Autobiography of Mary Quant!

First seeing the light of day in 1965, the compendium is a collection of tales from her life with husband and business partner Alexander Plunket Greene and her early career (think pioneering, liberating miniskirts – no biggie!) and King's Road Bazaar boutique, which would soon make her an era-defining designer

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Polish-born designer and icon, Bárbara Hulanicki – a.k.a. the woman behind Biba in the 1960s and 1970s – has lived through it all. Founding what became a hub for the coolest clan of artists, film stars and rock musicians around (we’re talking the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Twiggy and Brigitte Bardot) Kensington's Biba epitomised the zeitgeist of London at that time, and made for a place of cultural history. 

Penned in 1983, From A to Biba: The Autobiography of Barbara Hulanicki takes us on a trip down memory lane and evokes the adventurous spirit of a London we wish we could experience again and again. Step into the time warp... 

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