Maria Cornejo: TOP TEN BOOKS


Maria Cornejo courtesy of Martien Mulder

Described by The New York Times as one of the fashion industry’s “most dedicated change agents,” designer Maria Cornejo was born in Chile during Pinochet’s rule, and moved to Peru, London (where she co-designed the highly revered line Richmond Cornejo in the ’80s) and Paris before settling in New York in the mid ’90s, a move that coincided with the start of her own label, Zero + Maria Cornejo. Soon after, women flocked—no wonder since Cornejo designs geometric, flattering clothes that can be worn with ease. Zero + Maria Cornejo is all designed with an eco-conscious bent—often cut from one swatch of fabric, the majority of her collections are produced without harmful chemicals, and even with factory floor scraps of fabric that would otherwise be discarded. She won the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Award in 2006, and is a founding member of the CFDA Sustainability Committee.

Below are Maria Cornejo’s favorite books, available to purchase individually or as a set.


Moby Dick

Herman Melville
It’s a classic. I used to read a lot of books when I was a kid and there are very few that you remember the way I remember this book.
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Last Exit to Brooklyn

Hubert Selby Jr.
It’s about New York, but a gritty vision of New York that doesn’t really exist anymore. This is what I thought NYC might be like when I was a teenager.
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On the Road

Jack Kerouac
Classic Kerouac Beat Generation, and also about America in the ‘50s which I was really fascinated by as a teenager growing up in England. I did my college thesis on this book. It has a special place in my heart.
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Daughter of Fortune

Isabel Allende 
I love anything by Isabel Allende. When I read her, it pulls me back to my Latin roots.
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The World Without Us

Alan Weisman
It’s about how when we disappear, nature will claim back its space in a short amount of time—which I find very reassuring.
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Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea

Charles Seife
After I opened the Zero Maria Cornejo store, Diane Von Furstenburg gave me this book and I wish I had read it years earlier. It’s not how I came up with the brand name, but I love how it expands upon the idea of “zero.”
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The Post-American World

Fareed Zakaria 
I felt reassured that he explained how the world is actually a safer place than it’s ever been, but that we are just constantly bombarded with information which makes us feel unsafe. He’s very matter-of-fact about things. I met him once at the White House and it was a real fan moment for me.
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Just Kids

Patti Smith
I love Patti Smith and the story of her beginnings in New York City with her then boyfriend, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. It's a fascinating look at that period of time and at two very creative people who inspired a whole generation of artists. Smith continues to be so relevant, particularly given our political climate.
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Heart Talk

Cleo Wade
This new generation gives me such hope. Cleo is a shining example of the joy, activism and positivity that is leading us to a better world.
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Not in Fashion

Mark Borthwick
My husband Mark Borthwick's independent spirit and the beauty he finds in the things we take for granted truly inspire me.
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