Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published December 12, 2014 at 12:00 PM | Page modified December 15, 2014 at 5:32 PM

  • Share:
             
  • Comments
  • Print

5 beautiful books for fashion fans

Volumes on haute-couture artisans, the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute and fashion illustrator Joe Eula are on this list of stylish gift books.


Seattle Times arts writer

advertising

Love fashion? Fascinated by why we wear what we wear? Or just fond of looking at pretty pictures? Here are five new books that might bring holiday cheer to any would-be stylist.

Haute Couture Ateliers,” by Hélène Farnault (Vendome Press, $75). Those fascinated by delicate craftsmanship may need to just eat this beautiful book up with a spoon. It’s a tribute to the skilled artisans who create the many details of a couture garment, and its photographs are stunning: a cobweb of intricate lace, seeming to float ghostlike over the silk tulle to which it’s sewn; a froth of blue-and-silver sequins like waves on a beach; embroidered flowers that seem nurtured in some fantasy garden; richly woven damasks and brocades; an accordion of tiny pleats, made from molds designed and maintained by four generations of pleaters. I got happily lost in this book, imagining the hands that made such beauty; so might you.

Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Parties, Exhibitions, People,” by Hamish Bowles (Abrams Books, $50). The Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art presents annual exhibits from its vast collection, ranging from the sophisticated midcentury elegance of Charles James (2014) to a superhero-themed exhibit examining the transformative power of fashion (2008) to the bold surrealism and innovation of Schiaparelli and Prada (2012). This book, by Vogue’s international editor-at-large, takes us behind the scenes of 14 exhibits — giving us an up-close view of the garments themselves and of the very stylish opening-night guests at each exhibit’s gala. If you couldn’t make it to New York to see these displays, this is the next best thing; great fun to browse.

Worn Stories” by Emily Spivack(Princeton Architectural Press, $24.95). “We all have a memoir in miniature living in a garment we’ve worn,” writes Spivack, in this beguiling book’s foreword. To that end, she’s invited dozens of people (many, but not all, writers and/or artists) to write brief essays about what a favorite piece of clothing means to them, each presented next to a stark photo of the garment on a hanger. The results include a Holocaust survivor’s simple gray suit (made from fabric from her parents’ department store), a patched and holey apple-green sweater (a favorite of the writer’s mother), a ’90s floral-print dress kept as a souvenir of a memorable evening — unremarkable clothes, here made eloquent.

Eula” by Cathy Horyn (Harper Design, $85). Lovely match here of author and subject: Horyn, former fashion critic for The New York Times, wrote the lively text accompanying this first published collection of the work of fashion illustrator Joe Eula. The artist, who died in 2004, spent decades working for a vast roster of legendary designers, and also had a busy career in design of theatrical and concert posters (a famous one breezily captures a red-lipped Liza Minnelli mid-note) and costumes. His sketches have a loose, effortless quality to them; you feel as if these models in their 1960s shifts might go-go right off the page.

Women in Clothes,” by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and 639 others (Blue Rider Press, $30). For those who like their fashion books with lots of words in them, here’s a 500-plus-page anthology that’s crowdsourced from online surveys filled out by more than 600 women. (A few of them are well-known — yes, the ubiquitous Lena Dunham is here, talking about her own style — but most are not.) The book’s made up of interview excerpts, unique photos (in one series, women photocopy their hands and talk about their rings; in another, six strangers wear each other’s favorite outfits), and random musings on what our clothing says about us. Seems like the perfect thick book to dive into on a rainy day — wearing a cozy sweater, of course.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com



Four weeks for 99 cents of unlimited digital access to The Seattle Times. Try it now!

News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

 Subscribe today!

Subscribe today!

99¢ for four weeks of unlimited digital access.

Advertising

Advertising

The Seattle Times Historical Archives

Browse our newspaper page archives from 1900-1984


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►