Kindle and Cool-er e-book readers may be the most sought-after literary accessories this summer, but print lovers still have their fair share of fashion-related options this season.
A Chanel-inspired guide to life, a behind-the-scenes look from Ruffian’s design team Brian Wolk and Claude Morais and a former Nordstrom salesperson’s fictitious tell-all are among the smattering of style-oriented books due out in coming months.
This story first appeared in the June 9, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“The interesting people in the fashion world view books as an essential source for inspiration and not a luxury they can afford to give up,” said Alex Galen, Distributed Art Publishers’ vice president and a partner in the men’s wear label Loden Dagar. “Also, a good art book tends to go up in value once it’s sold out, so if you have good taste, it’s a smart way to spend money.”
Ruffian’s Wolk explained the message of “Ruffian: Inside Out” is more inclusive than the title suggests: “What we hope people will take away from the book is the creative and artistic process in terms of American design still happens here in New York City. In this world of globalization where everything is made in China, there is still artistry and tailoring. For us, that is a very romantic story and that’s what we hope to share.”
John Demsey, group president of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., will welcome guests to his Upper East Side home Thursday to celebrate the Assouline book. Needless to say, Wolk and Morais will be there, as will the book’s author, Nicole Phelps, and photographer Jami Isaia.
The project started as a creative one that Wolk and Morais initiated by chatting up Isaia’s agent at the National Arts Club. The aim was to document the design duo’s creative process, and about 2,500 photographs of Ruffian’s spring 2008 Pomp collection and the fall 2008 Re(form) line were taken. Isaia also caught makeup artist and V magazine co-founder James Kaliardos and hair stylist Neil Moody working backstage. (Estée Lauder owns MAC Cosmetics and Bumble and bumble, two of Ruffian’s runway show sponsors — hence Demsey’s hospitality.) “In this day and age, having a party for 100 or 150 people is really nice,” Wolk said.
Diane von Furstenberg hosted a party last Thursday at her design studio in honor of “Womenomics: Write Your Own Rules for Success” by Claire Shipman of “Good Morning America” and BBC News’ Katty Kay. The pair’s Harper Collins tome tackles “how to stop juggling and struggling and finally start living and working the way you really want.”
Shipman said she and Kay have been confidantes for years, routinely telling each other truths they might not necessarily want to share with their bosses or in public. Both Washington-based reporters have children and high-profile jobs, but they interviewed women in a variety of professions for the book. “Our story is kind of esoteric, but so many women do so many things. The dilemma of making things work can hit such a nerve with people,” Shipman said. “We thought maybe there was a way to tell our story. Maybe going straight up the corporate ladder isn’t the best way to success, but taking sideways steps works, too, so you are still feeling you have a career and you have time for your children.”
Steidl Photography International explores women of a different nature in “Juergen Teller: Election Day,” which will be released next month. The photography book captures the unlikely combo of Pamela Anderson and Vivienne Westwood, who collaborated on an ad campaign earlier this year.
Speaking of books, the Hamptons has a new outpost for fashion-related and artsy tomes, thanks to the Rizzoli bookstore that bowed at Empire Fine Art. Located at 197 Madison Avenue in Sag Harbor, the shop also has a gallery, and just about every weekend this summer there will be book signings by the likes of Kelly Klein, Kenny Scharf, Eric Fischl, Ted Muehling and Jean-Philippe Delhomme. The shop will be open until Oct. 15.
Just months after opening Clic Bookstore at 189 Lafayette Street, Clic Gallery at 424 Broome Street — both in Manhattan — and Clic Bookstore and Gallery in East Hampton, Christiane Celle unveils another Clic Gallery today at 255 Centre Street in New York. After exiting the fashion business last year, Celle turned her attention to art and books. The location’s inaugural exhibition, which will be on display through July 13, will be a solo show for Jeannie Weissglass, one of many emerging artists Celle plans to spotlight in the months ahead.
Phillip Lim is one of the downtown bookstore’s best customers, and photographer Adam Bartos and Sofia Coppola have also been known to drop by.
Other creative types may be found at “The Heart of a Woman: Harlequin Cover Art 1949-2009,” an exhibition at the Openhouse Gallery at 201 Mulberry Street in Manhattan. Aside from reflecting how women’s roles in society have changed in the past 60 years, the 100-plus covers also foretell changes in fashion, according to curator Elizabeth Semmelhack, a former consultant for the Costume Institute.
“Some people have preconceived notions of what a Harlequin book looks like. But these covers are really quite varied. Anyone interested in vintage designs will love these images,” she said.
Harlequin covers with “images of a life more luxurious, exotic and more fashion-advanced” must have appealed to the many women “who were at home wishing they could be doing something more, especially in the Fifties and Sixties before the women’s movement and Betty Friedan started writing,” Semmelhack said.
As the title suggests, “Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store, Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate,” omits few offenses that writer Freeman Hall faced on the sales floor. Readers that can get past the swear words — and there are many — will get a glimpse of the crassness of shoppers and salespeople, depending on the situation. The Adams Media book is due out in September.
Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol and Henri Cartier-Bresson are among the subjects shot by British fashion photographer David Bailey featured in “David Bailey: Eye,” also due out in September, as is Karen Karbo’s “The Gospel According to Coco Chanel, Life Lessons from the World’s Most Elegant Woman” (Globe Pequot Press). Chesley McLaren, who has a signature fashion collection and also works as an illustrator, provided the artwork.