In terms of gift-giving, fashion books can deliver on all sorts of fronts — informative, decorative, progressive and even transformative, depending on the recipient’s state of mind.
With more wintry conditions expected in the months ahead, books provide an automatic reason to spend an idle afternoon indoors, free from the wind, sleet and snow. Whether turning the pages for research, inspiration or curiosity, readers may find these tomes worth going back to.
This story first appeared in the December 9, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Art + Fashion: Collaborations and Connections”
The great divide between these two forces crumbled decades ago, as evidenced by the 1951 Cecil Beaton photo shoot for Vogue that featured Jackson Pollock paintings as a backdrop. Raymond Meier’s images of performance artist Nick Cave provide a more contemporary take. Perhaps Alex Prager, whose Alfred Hitchcock-inspired 2009 Bottega Veneta campaign is featured in the book, said it best: “Some of the greatest works of art are done on commission.” Chronicle Books, $85
“Swans: Legends of the Jet Society”
Slim Keith, Babe Paley, Gloria Guinness and the rest of the gang had Truman Capote to thank (or curse) for the nickname, but this hefty, photo-laden book spans decades of well-heeled, effortlessly chic women. Leafing through, readers will find images of Grace Kelly meeting with Prince Rainier, Jane Holzer at ease with Andy Warhol, Marisa Berenson on the town with Halston and scores of stylist-free dressers. Assouline, $195
“Dior, From Christian Dior to Raf Simons”
From the historical to the contemporary, this book highlights how the house has changed hands through the years. Besides its namesake and the recently exited Simons, the finery of Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré and John Galliano is also featured. Assouline, $250
After a quick stint in modeling, Rheims turned her focus to fashion photography and has been running nonstop ever since. Her 1989 portrait of a bare-chested Kate Moss, a 1999 placid-looking Naomi Campbell and Marilyn Manson’s take on Little Red Riding Hood are among the style-minded shots. The accompanying “Diaries” is even more of a keeper, with colorful asides and memorable images of Yves Saint Laurent, Helmut Newton, Loulou de la Falaise and Charlotte Rampling. Taschen, $700
“Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty”
Recognizable as he was for his fashion photography, portraits and still lifes, Irving Penn’s artistry is undeniable in this book. Fashion insiders will no doubt be drawn to the 1949 close-up of Evelyn Tripp’s veiled face, the 1990 sculptural shot for Issey Miyake and the 2004 portrait of Alber Elbaz. But Penn’s Walker Evans-esque street images from the Forties and his Nineties food photography deserve closer inspection. The Irving Penn Foundation and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, distributed by Yale University Press; $45
Former Harper’s Bazaar assistant to Diana Vreeland, 10-year run at Giorgio Armani, confidante to Hamilton South — Lee Radziwill remains the consummate fashion insider. Photos of Marc Jacobs, Giambattista Valli and Carolina Herrera are among the hundreds in this collagelike memoir that reveal a woman of great style, who knows how to enjoy life. So much so, that when Truman Capote convinced her to take to the stage in “The Philadelphia Story,” she arranged for Yves Saint Laurent to do her costumes (much to the director’s chagrin). Assouline, $50
The $700 price tag didn’t deter Gisele Bündchen’s fans from making this book, “Gisele Bündchen, Collector’s Edition,” a sellout — and that was before she went on air with Charlie Rose. A more affordable version — “Gisele Bündchen”— showcasing the Brazilian’s rise to modeling fame will soon be out. Taschen, Collector’s Edition, $700; standard or popular edition, around $70
“Helmut Newton: Pages From the Glossies”
The lensman always considered the printed page to be the most important part of his work, and the magazine spreads found here attest to that. While the images speak volumes, the back stories and inspirations detailed within were provided by Newton himself. Taschen, $49.99
“Paul Solberg: 10 Years in Pictures”
While not technically a fashion book, Solberg’s composition, symmetry and portraiture could be enlightening to photographers, stylists, writers and artists of all kinds, even more so considering he simply asked many of his subjects (including Ai Weiwei) to take their photographs. Glitterati Incorporated, $75
“My Journey: Donna Karan”
Not one for keeping secrets, Karan lays bare many of the details about her life in this autobiography. From losing her father in an automobile accident when she was three years old to flunking her draping class at The New School’s Parsons School of Design, the designer spills about becoming a fashion force and the highs and lows along the way. Ballantine, $30
“Louis Vuitton Windows”
Literally heavier than a piece of Louis Vuitton luggage, this tome details the work of visual image director Faye McLeod. Readers will see Yayoi Kusama-adorned window displays and Sofia Coppola-inspired ones, among others. Assouline, $845
“China: Through the Looking Glass”
Those who missed out on this spring’s “China: Through the Looking Glass” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art can read up on it in this catalogue. There, they will find curator Andrew Bolton’s Q&A with John Galliano about how China has influenced his work, as well as essays from filmmaker and the exhibition’s artistic director Wong Kar-wai; Harold Koda, and others. The 256-page tome includes 300 color illustrations and has a gold-stamped cover. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, $45