LILLIAN BASSMAN WOMEN - INTRO BY DEBORAH SOLOMON (ABRAMS)
Gauzy, shadowed, blurred and bleached, Lillian Bassman’s photographs “…are romantic images that turn the blur into a surprisingly focused expression of female feeling." This year I acquired two of her photographs from Peter Fetterman in Santa Monica. A large format of Carmen in Charles James (1950’s) and Lisa Fonssagrives (1960’s) in her convertible with her dog, head scarf and elbow gloves. So many photos - take the time to savor them. Richard Avedon said she "...made visible that heart-breaking invisible place between the appearance and disappearance of things."
SAM HASKINS: FASHION ET CETERA
The eleventh volume of Haskins photographs to be published – and not to be the last, FASHION ET CETERA is the first assembled exclusively with archived material. As he describes it, “…a trip into the archives becomes an adventure in rediscovering, repairing, and refreshing vintage images.” Embracing technology as did Lillian Bassman, who said “you know, anything new is fun.”
And as Tommy Hilfiger describes Haskins in the foreward, “his subjects are full of life.” Sam is 82, Lillian is 92…a potent message there, no?
NORMAN PARKINSON: A VERY BRITISH GLAMOUR – BY LOUISE BARING
With camera in hand doing what he loved and was brilliant at, Norman Parkinson died in Singapore in 1990 while on a shoot for Town & Country. He described himself as an accomplished tradesman “with a bit of glass, a black hole and a bit of sensitive material –“ I guess that’s one way of looking at it. And that little black hole left a library of haunting, beautiful pictures of Carmen, Wenda, his wife, who graces the cover, and his famous shoot of Jerry Hall in Russia in the 70’s styled and conceptualized by Grace Coddington. The most comprehensive book to date, it includes many photos previously unpublished.
THE WORLD IN VOGUE: PEOPLE PARTIES PLACES
Just in case you forgot exactly what made Vogue into the world's litmus test for chic, the editorial team has created this lavish record. Up to the moment, as fashion is and always will be, but with a prolonged glance back toward the legends of the 20th Century, this book is a feast of the most stunning photographs from decades of documenting beauty. From Jackie Kennedy to Babe Paley to the models and socialites of today, our most elusive trait - style - moves forever in a forward direction.
CAPRI – BY PAMELA FIORI (ASSOULINE)
After reading Capri, I cannot wait to return.
Wandering and winding your way down narrow shop filled streets, another pair of sandals, a new coral bijoux acquisition, the smell of jasmine, a limoncello granita, linguine and a Tuscan wine under citrus trees by candlelight – reading and snoozing on the roof top terrace at the Capri Palace…see what I mean? O, Pamela, I’ve got the bug! Viva La Dolce Vita! Viva Italia! Viva Capri!
THE MARCHESA CASATI – BY SCOT RYERSSON, MICHAEL YACCARINO (ABRAMS)
If you are not familiar with the life of Casati you must buy this book. If you are, you must buy this book!
Ryersson and Yaccarino have done it again, their first volume on the Marchesa was Infinite Variety. Their latest effort, a result of two decades of research, is a visual feast of her life and her influence as a ‘muse’ to fashion and more. Photographed by Fortuny, Beaton and Man Ray, painted by Augustus John and Boldini they have all captured her as “a living work of art” – which is exactly what she said she wanted to be.
In her preface, Diane Von Furstenberg describes her as “muse, sorceress, über-hostess, femme du monde, icon…aesthetic visionary….”
The rest you must read for yourself.
VANITY FAIR’S PROUSTIAN QUESTIONAIRE
Robert Risko’s caricatures are more than enough to express the personality of the 101 celebrities here, but aided by the revealing Proust Questionnaire they make an amusing story each month.
For 16 years, the last page of Vanity Fair is the Questionnaire. Each month, when I get my issue, I read the list of cover stories, peruse the table of contents, fast-forward to the Questionnaire, read it, then settle down to read the rest. Vanity Fair is a healthy cover-to-cover read…sometimes I am just finishing when the next one arrives.
A few stats about the Questionnaire -
Paris – eight said it was their favorite destination (mine too)
Nelson Mandela – the most admired (agreed)
Jesus – two identified with him (scary)
Virginity – the most overrated (well, there you have it!)
Pick it up – you won’t put it down. Perfect guest room reading!
ELEGANT ENTERTAINING – BY DOROTHY WALKER STAPLETON
With the beautiful background of the American Embassy in Paris, food prepared by Executive Chef Philippe Excoffier and the luscious photography of Francis Hammond, Dorothy Stapleton has put her stamp on French cuisine and entertaining with an American accent. With recipes arranged by season and menus for all occasions, I look forward to preparing the incredibly simple recipe for pumpkin soup this fall – a capon stuffed with chestnuts, sultanas, apricots and apple, and a tarte fine with a glass of Veuve Cliquot at Christmastime.
Now I know why there were towers of macaroons on platters in one of the sitting rooms when I was there having lunch with the New York City Ballet last year, this book was a work in progress then – now a gorgeous (and appetizing) realité.
THE AGE OF COMFORT - JOAN DE JEAN
Just how long did it take before comfort became a priority in the home? Well it took the English until the 1780's. The sofa was dubbed as "sinful" - leave it to the French who had all sorts of sofas throughout the house, including bathrooms and dining rooms. Indeed, the French invented what we call comfort today. And for the cause - every piece of upholstery and technique that you can imagine.
IN HOUSE - DERRY MOORE
We have all found ourselves talking to the four walls of a room at one time or another. In Derry Moore's In House, it is the walls that are speaking. Entirely composed of rooms that have withstood the test of time, there is a conversation with history in every frame. These interiors have blossomed over and over again, growing stronger and more confident with each passing year. Any good designer aspires to create something timeless and thoughtful. And every good designer should have this book...if only for the fog-laden cedars of Lebanon in the garden at Chiswick House, or the game of hide-and-go-seek the camera plays with light on the cover. To capture these qualities is true artistry. And Mitchell Owens' text is both authoritative and whimsical.
TRANSITIONAL STATES/PARCOURS MUSEOLOGIQUE REVISITEE - ROBERT POLIDORI
Somehow one would think that a 17th century building has little evolving left to do - until you have poured through the pages of Robert Polidori's 744 page, three volume edition. 25 years in the making - some Versailles you have seen, some you have not....
STYLE & SUBSTANCE: THE BEST OF ELLE DECOR – BY MARGARET RUSSELL & THE EDITORS
As Margaret Russell describes in her foreword, Style & Substance is “your room-by-room guide to living well.”
How did these rooms make the cut for the book? They exhibited personality, passion, joie de vivre and flair – executed by people with fearless style, curiosity and confidence. The same can be said for every page in the magazine.
From cutting edge to traditional, the Style Guide in each chapter provides sound, idea-filled advice, punctuated with pithy sound bites from designers. The visuals will most certainly have you rethinking a few rooms at home, and inspiring you for years to come.
MORE IS MORE - BY HUTTON WILKINSON
What more can be said? Hutton Wilkinson on his late partner Tony Duquette. Most of the text is in Tony's own voice.
THE PRIVATE WORLD OF YVES SAINT LAURENT & PIERRE BERGE -
How one lives is truly who they are. Creator, conceptualist, couturier...a romantic. This magnificent book delves into his private surroundings - the inspired homes, from Paris to Deauville, to Marrakech, and the various collections that inhabit them tell it all.... This book should complete your library, on monsieur.
WALLPAPER – BY CAROLLE THIBAUT-POMERANTZ (FLAMMARION)
From the moment you pick up this gloriously illustrated volume you know you are in for a special experience. The cover’s paper is unusually tactile for a book jacket. How can I describe it? You must see for yourself – Carolle has achieved her goal to “turn open a door unto a most magical world and enable readers to discover a unique area of the decorative arts.”
NEW CLASSIC INTERIORS – BY ALESSANDRA BRANCA
Sprezzatura: an Italian word that means a certain nonchalance – a gift for making bloody hard work look effortless - Alessandra Branca has just that! For a girl confident enough to have red as her signature color.... Where boldness is an understatement – and exuberance, vitality and freshness are infused with integrity and history. Bold scale is enhanced by decorative details in abundance. As Alessandra says, “A wall isn’t just a wall. It’s an opportunity.” Amen.
The size of the book, the robust photography and graphic design completely capture the spirit of the designer.
Estro – yes, I get the picture, Alessandra is estro. Brava Branca!
INSPIRED INTERIORS – BY SUZANNE KASLER (RIZZOLI)
At the same time modern and classic, Suzanne Kasler’s style is refreshing and modern. Gallons of white, shades of one color – “repetition is very calming,” she says. I agree.
A subtly layered look, sans clutter, knowing when to stop – she’s got that down to a science. Oh, and another piece of advice, “Don’t rush.” Decorating patience is a virtue rewarded in spades. See for yourself.
MORE GREAT TITLES TO ADD TO YOUR LIST
THE CAMONDO LEGACY: PASSIONS OF A PARIS COLLECTOR - BY MARIE-NOEL de GARY
JUAN MONTOYA - BY JUAN MONTOYA
STAR PIECES: THE ENDURING BEAUTY OF SPECTACULAR FURNITURE - BY DAVID LINLEY, CHARLES CATOR & HELEN CHISLETT
THE WIRTZ PRIVATE GARDEN - PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARCO VALDIVIA
BEATRIX FARRAND: PRIVATE GARDENS, PUBLIC LANDSCAPES - BY JUDITH TANKARD
SPIRIT: GARDEN INSPIRATION - BY DAN PEARSON
PARIS & HER REMARKABLE WOMEN - BY LORRAINE LISCIO
THE ALLURE OF CHANEL - BY PAUL MORAND
FRENCH FEASTS:TRADITIONAL RECIPES FOR FAMILY MEALS & GATHERINGS - BY STEPHANE REYNAUD
REDEEMING FEATURES - BY NICKY HASLAM
THE SEARCH FOR NEFERTITI - BY DR. JOANN FLETCHER
DANCING TO THE PRECIPICE - BY CAROLINE MOOREHEAD
PARIS QUIZ: HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW PARIS? - BY DOMINIQUE LESBROS
# # #
THE CORNER BOOKSHOP
As usual, I recommend my favorite corner bookshop, Archivia Books, on Lexington Avenue and 72nd Street. I find it's best to reach them by phone if you can't make it into their wonderful store, at (212) 570 9565.
OR GIVE A MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION...
Have you ever stopped to think how many ideas arrive in your mailbox between the covers of a magazine? Designers' work, resources, recipes...things you otherwise would not have seen. And the average magazine is only $3.95! What a great gift - not once a year, but twelve times!