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Image Conscious: Fall's Fashionable Reads

The season is filled with a slew of new books, from the quotable Karl Lagerfeld to an A to Z of fashion.

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There’s plenty to see in the new fashion and design books.

"Sirens & Sinners: A Visual History of Weimar Film 1918-1933” (Thames & Hudson; available Sept. 9), by Hans Helmut Prinzler. Germany’s Weimar period is endlessly fascinating, and this book explores one of the many art forms that blossomed in that time and place. It launched the careers of Fritz Lang, Max Ophuls and Ernst Lubitsch, along with those of Pola Negri, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. More than 70 films are covered by the book, with a synopsis, a cast list and stills from each. “M,” “Pandora’s Box,” “The Blue Angel”…it’s all here.

“The World According to Karl: The Wit and Wisdom of Karl Lagerfeld” (Flammarion, available Sept. 17), edited by Jean-Christophe Napias and Sandrine Gulbenkian with a foreword by Patrick Mauriès and illustrations by Charles Ameline. Lagerfeld has delivered many an excellent quote, and the ones here are divided into 15 categories, which include “Karl on Chanel” and “Karl on Books.” Some samples: “Fashion is made up of two things: continuity and the opposite. That’s why you have to keep moving.” “Every era gets the bad taste it deserves.” “I’ve been around for so long, prehistoric man can’t compete.” “I want to read everything, to see everything, to be informed. I am a paper addict, a paper freak, a paper-worm.”

“The Inspired Home: Interiors of Deep Beauty” (Harper Design, available Sept. 17), by Karen Lehrman Bloch with a foreword by Donna Karan. The book looks at the dwellings of a variety of designers, artists and stylists for whom the phrase “less is more” is a mantra at home. Artist Michele Oka Doner, for instance, has an artful display of shell fragments on a table, while designer Jérôme Abel Seguin created his own world on Bali, having a single-story house built in a shape that resembled a hangar. Palettes are usually in shades of white, cream and brown.

“Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman, King of the B Movie” (Abrams, available Sept. 10), by Chris Nashawaty with an introduction by John Landis. The plots were silly, and the special effects laughable, but Corman’s movies gave the first directing jobs to Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, Jonathan Demme and Ron Howard, while Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Tommy Lee Jones, Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock acted in his films. There are conversations with Corman alums, along with items from the director’s personal collection, including posters for such unforgettable classics as “Ski Troop Attack,” with the tag line “They turned a white hell red with enemy blood,” and “Rock All Night,” with its motto, “Some have to dance...some have to kill!…”

“Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures From the Driehaus Collection” (The Monacelli Press, available Sept. 10), by David A. Hanks with an essay by Richard H. Driehaus and photographs by John Faier. This book was created to go with an exhibition of the same name that will open on Sept. 28 at the Driehaus Museum in Chicago. The book features essays on six categories of Tiffany designs, including lamps, furniture and interiors and decorative objects, with remarkable close-up pictures of vases, candlesticks and chandeliers that show the details of the colors in the glass.

“The Fashion Book: New Edition” (Phaidon, available Oct. 14), by the Editors of Phaidon. The original book came out in 1998, and the new one includes 72 new entries. As the introduction puts it, “Pioneering designers Coco Chanel and Issey Miyake are joined by new figures such as Alexander Wang and Phoebe Philo, alongside influential photographers from Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton to Mert & Marcus and Terry Richardson.” The images are fresh and often unexpected. In the first entry, on Twenties and Thirties photographer James Abbe, for instance, “Ziegfeld Follies” dancer Gilda Gray looks surprisingly modern in a long, fringed dress, glancing away from the camera.

“GQ Men”
(Assouline, available Sept. 15), with an introduction by GQ editor-in-chief Jim Nelson and an essay by Glenn O’Brien. This book is a striking compilation of great photographs of men, including Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Pablo Picasso, Malcolm X, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Jude Law, Denzel Washington, Johnny Depp, Drake, Ryan Gosling and Jon Hamm. There are still-lifes of classic fashion pieces such as a shirt and tie, a watch and a black leather jacket. But the energy is in the men’s portraits, which vary considerably, but which are all full of personality.

“Giambattista Valli”
(Rizzoli, available Oct. 15), by Giambattista Valli with text by Lee Radziwill, John Galliano and Pamela Golbin and an introduction by Francesco Clemente. The titular designer launched his own collection in 2005, and it has become one of fashion’s most influential, lauded for the way he combines feminine details with linear, modern silhouettes, creating a highly distinctive romantic vision. This book examines the stages of his design process, including fabric selection and development.

“Cat Hats: Sixteen Paper Hats to Put on Your Unsuspecting Kitty!” (Hardie Grant Books, available Oct. 8), by Kitty Barnett. This charming volume contains a considerable variety of dizzy hats with which to embarrass a feline. The possibilities include a crown, a captain’s hat, a bowler, a giant bow and devil’s horns, and they can all be cut out of the book with scissors. The author lives in London with 12 cats and owns a shop called Paws and Relax.

“Alexander McQueen: Working Process”
(Damiani, available Oct. 31), with photographs by Nick Waplington and an introduction by Susannah Frankel. Waplington and Frankel were invited by McQueen to document the making of his fall 2009 ready-to-wear collection, called the Horn of Plenty, from start to finish. They did so, and the designer edited the resulting pictures. Then he died, and the project was put on hold. Now it’s being published, and it shows everything from sketches and mood boards to meetings with editors such as Anna Wintour and Camilla Nickerson to the models with their giant, clownlike lips backstage at the presentation itself.

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“Lee Miller: In Fashion” (The Monacelli Press, available Oct. 8), by Becky E. Conekin. Miller, one of the most remarkable women of her day, has been justly celebrated for her war photographs. But almost nothing has been written about her fashion photographs, which were done for American, British and French Vogue and which also have an unusual quality, showing a considerable degree of imagination and often surrealist elements. The book features photographs her son and executor Antony Penrose retrieved from the Condé Nast archives, many of which were never printed and have never been seen before.

“Art/Fashion in the 21st Century” (Thames & Hudson, available Nov. 11), by Mitchell Oakley Smith and Alison Kubler with a foreword by Daphne Guinness. “The links between art and fashion are more apparent now than they have ever been,” Guinness writes. But she also admits that both Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gaultier reject the notion of that linkage. The book includes chapters on art-and-fashion collaborations, exhibitions of fashion designers at museums and architectural and art projects created for or underwritten by fashion houses. A photo of Hussein Chalayan’s LED electronic dress appears on the cover, and there are many striking and improbable images scattered throughout: a Versace dress detailed with photo montages by Tim Roeloffs; photos Cindy Sherman shot of herself wearing Balenciaga and Chanel.

“Chronicle of the World 1493: The Complete Nuremberg Chronicle”
(Taschen, available now), by Hartmann Schedel, with a key by Stephan Fussell. The “Chronicle” reproduces one of the encyclopedias of its day. It was divided into six ages, intended to distinguish itself from others of the time by the humanistic approach of its compiler, Schedel, who combined biblical events that everyone in his audience knew about and accepted with commentary on recent scientific discoveries. The tome is full of colorful woodcuts depicting everything from bishops and saints to whole garrison towns. At the time, it was the most lavishly illustrated volume ever produced in Europe.

“Jewels of the Romanovs: Family & Court, Second Edition”
(Thames & Hudson, available Oct. 7), by Stefano Papi. The former European specialist in the jewelry departments of both Sotheby’s and Christie’s, Papi has created a suitably lavish book showcasing the remarkable jewels owned by the members of the last Russian czarist dynasty, their court…and their mistresses. The last, actresses and ballerinas, are seen in pictures festooned with an enormous amount of jewelry. The royal family members’ style is more restrained, but the jewels are equally rich. Papi notes that in the last decades of the Romanov dynasty, pieces became more opulent. The photographs of the royal family, mostly ceremonial ones, seem poignant in view of what was to unfold.

“Renzo Mongiardino: Renaissance Master of Style” (Assouline, available this week), by Laura Verchere with a foreword by architects Roberto Peregalli and Laura Sartori Rimini and a tribute by his granddaughter, art restorer Francesca Simone. Mongiardino died at 81 in 1998, but during his long career he designed lavish period interiors — often featuring trompe l’oeil illusions — for clients who included Valentino, Gianni Versace, Marella Agnelli, Lee Radziwill, Irene Galitzine and Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza. Mongiardino created fantasy interiors inspired by everything from Pompeii to Palladian architecture, and it’s amusing to learn here that his last major assignment was to create an interior for the ultimate minimalist, Jil Sander. His work in the ballet, opera and films was equally remarkable, and he had a long-standing collaboration with director Franco Zeffirelli.

“Hollywood Costume” (Abrams, available Oct. 1), edited by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, with a preface by Debbie Reynolds. Landis takes us from “The Tramp” to “Avatar” to show how clothes make the character. She has rounded up essays from designers, collectors and archivists who describe how they chose specific looks to show in films or to own. Landis also tells stories of the way classic film costumes were haphazardly kept in the Seventies, when the big studios had run out of money and it was not yet clear how valuable iconic pieces would become. And, of course, there are big pictures of the costumes themselves.

“Fashion Designers’ Sketchbooks Two” (Laurence King, available Sept. 24), by Hywel Davies. Fashion writer Davies interviews designers who include Rick Owens, Thom Browne, Junko Shimada, Anne Valérie Hash, Clements Ribeiro and a number of others who are less well-known. This book offers aspiring designers insights into how it’s done. There are sketches, mood boards, scraps of fabric and a description by the makers about what makes their design process tick.

“For the Love of Shoes” (teNeues, available Oct. 15), edited by Patrice Farameh with interviews with Mary Alice Stephenson, Julie Benasra and Valerie Steele. This is a book for the true shoe fanatic, with pinuplike photos of beautiful or outlandish shoes throughout. There are towering Jimmy Choos, Alexander McQueen Armadillo numbers and Dsquared2 shoes with gilded big cats for platforms.

“Her Majesty”
(Taschen, limited edition with a cover designed by Vivienne Westwood, available now), edited by Reuel Golden with text by Christopher Warwick. From her baby pictures to shots of her trooping the color in the Seventies to photos taken for her golden wedding anniversary, here is Queen Elizabeth II in all her unflappable, indestructible glory. Some of the shots, particularly those by her cousin Patrick Litchfield, even show her smiling as an adult. There are a complete genealogy of the Windsors, a timeline of the Queen’s state visits and pages of reproductions of vintage press clippings from throughout her life, too.

 

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