As regular readers of my musings know – I love art books. I would guess that, at the moment, we have some 500 art books for sale. And what could be more beautiful than art books celebrating Haute Couture! Let’s start by defining this relying on our friends at Wikipedia.
Haute couture - French for 'high sewing', 'high dressmaking' is the creation of impeccable, custom-fitted high-end fashion design that today is partially constructed by hand and often utilizes other handmade, one-of-a-kind embellishments, notions and trimmings. An haute couture garment is always made for an individual client, tailored specifically for the wearer's measurements and body stance, their personal tastes and with regards to their needs in a piece of clothing. Considering the amount of time, money, and skill allotted to each completed piece, haute couture garments were until very recently designed to be part of a person’s wardrobe for their whole lives, even to extend into their heir’s lives and beyond. “Haute Couture,” like “champagne,” is a protected French designation that may not be used except by firms that meet certain well-defined standards. In modern France, Haute Couture is utilized as a marketing tool to drive sales of the other, more accessible offerings of a given house, especially make-up and fragrances which have mass accessibility and cater to a market that is built on the fantasy offered by Haute Couture concoctions.
The article goes on to list Official Members, Correspondent Members (foreign), Guest Members and Past Members.
I am going to feature four famous providers of glorious clothing, but the last of these was also into other things – as you shall see. There are two pictures of each book, followed by the publishing information, in bold, followed by our description of the book as posted on the internet.
The glamorous life and work of Valentino Garavani. Think Valentino: think luxury. Think elegance. Think red carpet. Fashion’s most beloved upholder of refined decadence and the most exciting couturier in business is known around the globe simply by his first name. Only a few years after opening his fashion house in Rome in 1959, Valentino was already at the height in success, counting Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, and Audrey Hepburn among his devotees. Over forty years later, not much has changed – he’s still dressing the top celebrities, from Gwyneth Paltrow to J. Lo, though now his business is a major economic force in Italy and his fashion house is among the most famous in the world. This publication renders homage to Valentino’s illustrious career via a copious selection of images from his archives, including drawings, magazine shoots, advertisements, portraits of Valentino (including one by Andy Warhol), and documentary photographs; presented chronologically, the visual material is accompanied by a vast array of newspaper and magazine articles about Valentino throughout the years. From Suzy Menkes introduction – Keeper of the Couture Flame – The designer’s mantra is – I always wanted to make women beautiful - and his inspiration was that of a provincial boy in the drab post-war period going to the movies with his sister and catching the glory days of Hollywood stars in their silver-screen years. Like the rest of the Romans, he was fascinated by the shiny, Dolce Vita glamour and he gave it classical class.
This over-sized volume, 576 pages measuring 333mm X 250mm, weighs four kilos. The book is in fine condition in a near-fine dust jacket, the main fault being a slightly scuffed back. The dust jacket is now enclosed in a protective mylar wrap. The quality of this book and, in particular, the photographs is outstanding. I can only post five photos on the internet listing and the choices were extremely difficult to make. This magnificent, high quality Taschen book on Valentino is THE book on the master designer.
Gabrielle Chanel created a look for her era and beyond. She was, without doubt, the most influential fashion designer of the twentieth century, years ahead of her time. Her clothes, cuts and accessories have remained eternally chic. Chanel’s influence is honored here by celebrating the key elements that defined and still define her style for every generation, through inspired pairings of classic and contemporary photographs. Putting together fashion plates from Chanel’s own time with the most recent contemporary creations by the house’s visionary designer-in-chief, Karl Lagerfeld, the resonance between archive and contemporary photographs becomes sharp, vibrant, and telling. Images by the modern greats of fashion photography display the triumphs of one of the world’s most visible and distinctive brands: Edward Steichen, Horst P. Horst, Richard Avedon, Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh, and Mario Testino are among the galaxy of ultra-gifted photographers whose work appears in this volume. The vocabulary of Chanel’s style – the little black dress, baroque inspirations, androgynous chic – is revealed and interpreted in eleven chapters that compare original forms in the 1920s with the full range of their later expressions through every fashion era up to today.
This large format book, 304 pages measuring 318mm X 237mm is in fine condition in a fine dust jacket in a fine slipcase. I find generally that university presses produce art related books of the highest quality, and this volume is no exception – it is gorgeous!
When he first burst upon the fashion scene with his degree show at St. Martin’s School of Art in 1984, it was clear that John Galliano was an exceptional talent. But few could have predicted his rise to the post of creative director of Christian Dior, the most august and powerful fashion house in Paris, a mere twelve years later. Written and designed with John Galliano’s full collaboration, this uniquely personal book celebrates a true original in a truly original style. Fashion historian Colin McDowell has used interviews with the designer and his closest associates to build a detailed picture of the man and his art: documented by his drawings, sketches and sourcebooks: illustrated by extraordinary photographs from his shows and elegantly evocative images by the great photographers from the most glamorous fashion magazines in the world. This is the definitive book on John Galliano (in 1997)!
This oversized format book, pages measuring 312mm X 267mm, is in fine condition in a near- fine dust jacket, now in a protective mylar wrap. A magnificent work of one of the true greats in fashion design.
(Although much has happened with Galliano from the time this book was published and today.)
Karl Lagerfeld was mentioned in the Chanel piece since he ran the show there for decades. But he also was a painter, photographer, and film director. And now for something completely different!
Karl Lagerfeld and Amanda Harlech; Visions and a Decision; Steidl, Gottingen, Germany, 2007. First edition. This photo story features photographs of two “beautiful people” – Claudia Schiffer and Brad Kroenig. Karl Otto Lagerfeld (1933 – 2019) was a German creative director, fashion designer, artist, photographer, and caricaturist. He was known as the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel, a position held from 1983 until his death, and was also creative director of the Italian fur and leather goods fashion house Fendi, and of his own eponymous fashion label. He collaborated on a variety of fashion and art-related projects. Lagerfeld was recognized for his signature white hair, black sunglasses, fingerless gloves, and high, starched, detachable collars. He was at the pinnacle of Haute Couture. Amanda Jane Ormsby-Gore, Baroness Harlech (née Grieve; May 1958) is a British creative consultant and writer with a long association with the couturiers John Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1997. Claudia Maria Schiffer (born 1970) is a German model and actress based in the United Kingdom. She rose to fame in the 1990s as one of the world's most successful models, attaining supermodel status. In her early career, she was compared to Brigitte Bardot. She has appeared on more than 1,000 magazine covers and holds the record for the model with the most magazine covers, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2002, Forbes estimated her net worth to be around US$55 million. Brad Kroenig (born 23 April 1979), is an American fashion model. Kroenig started his modelling career in 2002 with a long-standing collaboration with fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. He has graced numerous magazine covers including VMAN, Vogue, Numéro Homme and Allure. Kroenig has appeared in print campaigns for designers including Chanel, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Abercrombie & Fitch, Roberto Cavalli, DKNY, Gap and Adidas, and on the runway for Chanel and Michael Kors. This is a sumptuous volume by and about beautiful people.
This thin, folio book measuring 334mm X 245mm, is in fine condition. I have been in the book business for a long time, and I have used the acronym “aeg” for all edges gilt, but this is the first book I have had that as “aes” for all edges silver! The cloth binding, black and grey glistens. The quality of this Steidl volume is absolutely first class just like the cast involved. The dust jacket is in near-fine condition. It is slightly scuffed and has a silvery finish to match the book. This is a very scarce, spectacular, high-end fashion production, as would be expected from those involved in its creation.