Their wardrobes are full, so give fashionistas a beautiful coffee-table book to show off instead. Here’s our pick of the best
This book should carry a health warning: it’s very large (11in x 15in x 2¾in), heavy (21 lb) and expensive (£450, with a print run of 1,000). The 536-page photographic blockbuster features images by 71 of the world’s greatest fashion photographers of the supermodel Gisele Bündchen, who is giving all her proceeds from sales to charity. Unfortunately, there are too many nude and semi-nude portraits and too few with her in clothes to truly satisfy fashionistas, which is a pity. However, teenage girls will love it, if they can tear it away from their brothers. And don’t let your half-sozzled uncle spill his drink on it on Christmas Day, as this book is a real investment.
Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style
Andre Leon Talley. Skira/Rizzoli £35
Born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, Oscar de la Renta had a successful career in New York in which the wheels of talent were oiled by a devastatingly charming manner. André Leon Talley’s eulogy explains the secret of de la Renta’s success as love. I think it is more. He lived the high-society life of his super-wealthy Manhattanite customers. Such a clientele wanted clothes that were easily understood, and he delivered this, every season, without fail: no shocks, nothing too modern, a front row of millionaires beaming with joy as they recognised old friends both in the seats around them and in the clothes in front of them. No wonder de la Renta’s death after a battle against cancer last year so genuinely saddened even the hard-boiled denizens of Seventh Avenue.
At the age of 81, Giorgio Armani has finally written a book — and a very handsome, beautifully designed one, too. It is penned in the first person, with glimpses of his early family life and his carefully plotted career trajectory, initially helped by his friend Sergio Galeotti, who died of cancer in 1985. The book is also packed with photographs that create a roll call of the designer’s many looks for both men and women, including many by the man who understood Armani’s aesthetic best: Aldo Fallai, who was admired by industry insiders, but whose name is barely known outside the fashion world. Armani’s hand is evident everywhere in this special book. Some of the text pages are in his signature grey — the colour he made chic for two decades. While he doesn’t quite bare all, what he says reflects his strong personality and makes clear why he has held such a commanding position in international fashion for so long.
Harper’s Bazaar Models
Derek Blasberg. Abrams £40
This is a clever book, looking at fashion through the eyes of the models who animate the pages of Harper’s Bazaar. We are treated to a cavalcade of the greatest “girls”, as they were once called, going back as far as the 1950s, from Suzy Parker and Dorian Leigh, through Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss, to Lara Stone. The cream of the crop, decade after decade, all able to be anything the photographers wanted. Alongside stellar shots by Richard Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh and Francesco Scavullo is Derek Blasberg’s literate and entertaining commentary. This book will make experts of its readers, and will be enjoyed by those who are already experts.
Dior by Avedon
Dior by Avedon is one of the most beautiful and informative fashion books currently available. Richard Avedon (along with Irving Penn) was the greatest fashion photographer of the late 20th century, and this book is a history of many things: a period that stretched into the 1960s; a magazine, Harper’s Bazaar; an editor, Carmel Snow (who is credited with giving the New Look its name); an inspirational art director, Alexey Brodovitch; a fashion editor, Diana Vreeland (who lured Avedon from Harper’s to Vogue when she became editor). This marriage of true minds could only have been made in heaven and only happens once — this is a book to cherish.
Terry Richardson: Volume 1 Portraits; Volume 2 Fashion
A box set of two of Terry Richardson’s favourite genres: sexy ladies and famous personalities. Richardson has worked with many models, some of whom he has persuaded to adopt saucy poses in among the more conventional fashion shots. The cover of Volume 2 features three women, naked apart from shoes, with the title obscuring their faces. A red rag to a bull for many people, but witty to just as many others. And Volume 1’s cover evens things up with a nude man with a shocked expression caused by the fact that his nipples are clamped. This volume is devoted largely to celebrities, including President Obama, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Ford and the many other stars and world figures who seem to be enjoying the experience very much indeed.
Vogue Colouring Book
Iain R Webb. Conran Octopus £10
All right, this is a naff idea — and yet it works. The concept is audaciously simple: go back to old fashion magazines, choose photographs of clothes and trace them. Result: more than 50 outline drawings, all ready to be coloured in by eager hands. Iain R Webb dedicates the book “to every little boy who likes to colour in pictures of frocks”, but girls can also join in. Everything is there, exactly as on the pages of the magazine, including captions, and even when rendered in thinly traced lines the clothes retain their integrity. To all those boys and girls with their crayons poised, I would say: “Treat them with care. They don’t make fashion like this any more.”