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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"Lee Miller: In Fashion"

Photo By Courtesy Photo

For the Love of Shoes

Photo By Courtesy of teNeues/ © Gianluca Pasquini and Diego Dolcini

"Her Majesty"

Photo By Courtesy Photo

“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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