Horst’s neoclassical photographs, Flair magazine’s innovative layouts, midcentury modern houses and the world’s most glamorous cat are the subjects of some of the latest design and photo books.
“The Street Photographer’s Manual,” by David Gibson (Thames & Hudson). David Gibson is a founding member of In-Public, an international collective of street photographers launched in 2000. He has taught street photography at London’s Central Saint Martins and has held workshops in cities all across the world. In his manual, Gibson writes about photographers such as Elliott Erwitt, Kaushal Parikh and Nils Jorgensen, and also includes sections on techniques for shooting shadows, photographing from behind and from two vantage points of looking down. On taking pictures of objects, he writes, “All that ever matters is whether something is worth photographing.”
“Midcentury Houses Today,” by Jeffrey Matz, Lorenzo Ottaviani and Cristina A. Ross, with photographs by Michael Biondo and an introduction by John Morris Dixon (The Monacelli Press, Oct. 21). The design community’s ongoing passion for midcentury modern houses shows no sign of waning. As the authors of this book write in their introduction, they wanted to explore “the discovery of a group of modern houses located in one of the epicenters of midcentury architecture in America.” In New Canaan, Conn., they are “surrounded by the living history of 91 surviving modern houses,” from architects who include Marcel Breuer, Philip Johnson, Eliot Noyes, John Johansen and Landis Gores. The book features meticulously photographed, double-page spreads of the exteriors and interiors of the dwellings as they are lived in today.
“The Best of Flair,” edited by Fleur Cowles, with a foreword by Dominick Dunne (Rizzoli New York). When it came out, in 1950, Cowles’ magazine, with its striking design — replete with die-cut covers and sewn-in booklets — and its arts coverage, written by the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Simone de Beauvoir, Margaret Mead and Ogden Nash, instantly became one of the most influential magazines ever created. Its sky-high production values made it prohibitively expensive to print, and it only appeared for a year, but its original issues have become increasingly sought-after by designers and magazine lovers, as prices for them soared into the stratosphere. Now Rizzoli has created a remarkable incarnation of Flair’s greatest hits, replete with its original design details and articles, in a relatively affordable ($125) new edition.
“Choupette: The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat,” by Patrick Mauries and Jean-Christophe Napias, with photography by Karl Lagerfeld (Flammarion). Lagerfeld’s Choupette is one of the most famous felines on the planet, with her Birman lineage, Baked Alaska-shaded fur and star sapphire eyes. The blue of the last inspired the shades of Lagerfeld’s 2014 Métiers d’Art presentation at Chanel. As he says, “I never thought that I would fall in love like this with a cat.” But despite the service of two personal maids and the frequent travel on a private jet, Choupette has something in common with far more plebeian members of her species. As her besotted owner explains, “She likes strange toys, toys that aren’t supposed to be toys. She plays with pieces of wood, scraps of paper and shopping bags. She loves shopping bags, especially when they have ribbons.”
“The Golden Lands: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam,” by Vikram Lall (Abbeville Press). This is the first in what is intended to be a six-volume series about Buddhist architecture across Asia. Vikram Lall, the principal architect of Lall & Associates, who has lectured on architecture world-wide, aims to show how Buddhist thought fused with local traditions to create religious architecture in each country. The buildings covered range from the simplest stupa in Myanmar to the vast Borobudur complex in Central Java.
“Exposed: A History of Lingerie,” by Colleen Hill, with an introduction by Valerie Steele (Yale University Press with the Fashion Institute of Technology). In her introduction to the book, which is illustrated almost entirely by fashion drawings and photographs of vintage fashion pieces from the Museum at FIT, Valerie Steele quotes French fashion historian Octave Uzanne, and writes, “The ‘exquisite, adorable’ art of elegant, luxurious lingerie developed, he argued, in direct proportion to the increasing ‘simplicity and severity of day clothes.’…Lingerie seemed to be the last repository of femininity in the age of the New Woman. Or, as Uzanne put it, lingerie was ‘the last mythological expression of woman.’” Steele and Colleen Hill use this premise as a reason to concentrate largely on the lingerie of the 20th century.
“Horst: Photographer of Style,” edited by Susanna Brown, with foreword by Martin Roth and introduction by Anna Wintour (Skira/Rizzoli New York). Horst P. Horst, with his great flair for lighting and props, made every royal, artist and star look wonderful in the portraits he took of them between the world wars — and created many an arresting fashion photograph, too, including, of course, his iconic “Mainbocher Corset” of 1939. He knew exactly how to use line, draping and symmetry of form to set up a rhythm and create glamour. This book covers Horst’s entire working life, which lasted from the Thirties through the late Sixties, then declined. In the Eighties, when Wintour became editor in chief of Vogue, she commissioned some photographs from him of Yasmin Le Bon, reviving his career. Said Wintour: “The images were very much of Horst’s ‘period,’ but they were absolutely timely and relevant.”
“At Home With Jane Austen,” by Kim Wilson, with foreword by Mary Guyatt (Abbeville Press). “We shall be very glad to see you at home again, and then…who will be so happy as we?” Jane Austen wrote to her sister, Cassandra, in 1799. Austen has long been one of the most admired writers in the English language, and this book depicts her life in southern England, the places she lived in Hampshire and the cities of Bath and Southampton she visited. “As one of a large, loving family, Jane neither needed nor depended on the outside world,” Kim Wilson writes. The book places the celebrated author in the houses and landscapes she visited and knew, from the St. Nicholas Church at Steventon, where her father was rector, to the Royal Crescent at Bath.
“American Cities: Historic Maps and Views,” by Paul E. Cohen and Henry G. Taliaferro (Assouline). Nine American cities — Boston, New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, St. Louis, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Washington — are depicted in this tome assembled from historic maps, put together by Paul Cohen and Henry Taliaferro, who are part of the firm Cohen & Taliaferro, dealers in antique maps and rare books. Taliaferro has written “Cartographic Sources in the Rosenberg Library,” and is a coauthor of “Degrees of Latitude: Mapping Colonial America,” while Cohen is a coauthor of “Manhattan in Maps” and “Mapping the West.”
“Printed Textiles: British and American Cottons and Linens, 1700-1850,” by Linda Eaton, with a foreword by Mary Schoeser and photography by Jim Schneck; based on the 1970 classic by Florence M. Montgomery (Winterthur Museum/The Monacelli Press). The textile industry in America and England in the 18th and 19th centuries reflected the latest scientific and manufacturing developments of the times and was a linchpin of international trade. This new edition of “Printed Textiles,” written by Linda Eaton, the John L. and Marjorie P. McGraw director of collections and senior curator of textiles at the Winterthur Museum, with its 600 color photos of cotton and linen fabrics drawn from the museum’s matchless collection, mirrors the newest scientific insights into the lives of these textiles.