50 Fashion Designers You Should Know is just what the title tells you: this is not a collection of obscure or niche designers, but rather a book profiling the biggest movers and shakers in the fashion industry. More specifically, it is a guide to those who have had the biggest influences, primarily on contemporary western women’s fashion. Spanning from Jeanne Lanvin opening her first hat shop in 1899 to Stella McCartney’s most recent collection, the book features short profiles of the biggest designers who show at the four main fashion weeks (London, Paris, Milan and New York City). While it’s far from being a comprehensive encyclopedia of names, 50 Fashion Designers is excellent as an unintimidating crash course for fashion newbies.
The names included are the more obvious ones: Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood and Marc Jacobs are all present. While the focus is on the famous, there is some variety. Both the more commercial designers (Gianni Versace, Calvin Klein) as well as the avant garde (Yohji Yamamoto, Hussein Chalayan) are included. There are also a few designers who had an impact in their time but have since gone a bit under the radar, like Madeleine Vionnet and Main Boucher.