From retrospectives of iconic designs, and a book dedicated to Christian Dior’s favourite accessory to a compelling psychological thriller set in a fashion magazine, these five titles will amplify any fashionable bookshelf.
The New Girl, Harriet Walker is published by Hodder & Stoughton on July 9, €14.37
Margot Jones is fashion editor of a glossy magazine called Haute and is pregnant with her first child. She helps select an eager freelancer, Maggie, as her replacement during maternity leave. Having had a carefully curated career and lifestyle, it spirals out of control with the birth of Margot’s child and the simultaneous ending of a long term friendship. As she watches Maggie’s progress on social media, Margot spirals into suspicion and paranoia. Is Maggie as genuine as she seemed, or does she want to manipulate Margot out of a job? Harriet Walker is fashion editor of The Times, so the depiction of life at a fashion magazine is accurate and compelling. This is her debut novel which is twisty, pacy and stylish (I’m half way through and can’t wait to finish) and very insightful into the (sometimes) unsettling nature of female friendships.
Dior Hats From Christian Dior to Stephen Jones, Rizzoli, €48.87
This illustrated book was supposed to mark the opening of the exhibition Chapeaux Dior! L’Art du chapeau de Christian Dior à Stephen Jones, which was to be held at the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, Normandy. While the exhibition has been postponed to a later date, Dior Hats documents 70 years of creativity. In Christian Dior’s hands, the hat became a major symbol of French haute couture and elegance. “It’s the best way to express your personality,” he wrote of his favourite accessory, which featured in every one of his 22 collections, from 1947 to 1957. The book revisits Dior’s fabulous hats, those by Yves Saint Laurent, floral toques by Marc Bohan, wide-brimmed hats by Gianfranco Ferré, extravagant confections by John Galliano, poetic creations by Raf Simons and feather headdresses by Maria Grazia Chiuri. Whether woven from straw, punctuated with sprigs of lily of the valley, shaped from taffeta or leather, the hats all embody sophistication and femininity. Compiled by Stephen Jones – milliner to the House of Dior since 1996 – these archival treasures may have you rethinking your approach to headwear.
The New Parisienne Women & Ideas Shaping Paris, Lindsey Tramuta, Abrams, €24.32
Journalist and author Lindsey Tramuta lifts the veil on the mythologised Parisian woman – white, lithe, always chic – demystifing this outdated and oversimplified stereotype. Frustrated with the countless media stories about how French women can do everything, Tramuta writes in the introduction, “this book is about recasting the image of how one of the most commodified and romanticised groups of women is actually living today, how she finds happiness and seeks fulfilment, how she weathers adversity and the indignities that may be thrust upon her, how she’s contributing to the city in her own way – one dish, film, boxing match, art exhibit, podcast episode, and jewellery collection at a time. But it’s also about stepping away from a restrictive set of stereotypes that have defined this one woman for generations – a woman whose aura is seemingly impossible to dispel but must be endlessly dissected – and offering a new image and set of stories to go with it.” Tramuta interviews over 40 activists, creators, educators, and disruptors, such as Victoire de Taillac (cofounder of L’Officine Universelle Buly), Anne Hidalgo (first female mayor of Paris) and Leïla Slimani (Goncourt Prize–winning author). Beyond the profiles, the women share some of their favourite destinations and women-owned businesses, including shops, artistic venues, and bistros. As such it’s an invaluable guide book to Paris and invites readers to explore the city through a fresh lens.
Yves Saint Laurent: The Impossible Collection, Laurence Benaïm, Assouline, €820
The newest addition to Assouline’s exclusive Ultimate Collection, Yves Saint Laurent: The Impossible Collection showcases all the classics: the Mondrian shift dress; the black dress with white collar and cuffs for the film Belle de Jour; the legendary Ballets Russes collection; the tributes to Picasso, Matisse and van Gogh; the tailored trouser suits and flowing “coup de crayon” draped gowns; the lavish use of velvet, lace, feathers, leopard print and brilliant jewel tones which seem to justify Yves Saint Laurent’s belief: “I created the wardrobe of the contemporary woman; I took part in the transformation of my era”. Ahead of his time, he created feminine versions of masculine styles such as the pinstriped pantsuit, the Saharienne khaki safari jacket and Le Smoking tuxedo, and introduced scandalous ideas such as see-through blouses and the daring Opium perfume, whose name and early advertisements shocked. He was also one of the first couturiers to design for fast fashion, creating a tuxedo for La Redoute in 1996. Saint Laurent expert Laurence Benaïm, Assouline has curated the 100 most iconic pieces from Yves Saint Laurent’s 40-year oeuvre, from his debut collection in January 1962, to his final couture presentation upon his retirement in 2002.
The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion, 250 Years of Design, edited by Petra Slinkard, Rizzoli, €24.84
Diane Von Furstenberg, Vivienne Westwood, Sarah Burton, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Donna Karan and Iris van Herpen are among the great female designers to emerge in the last few decades. The Women Who Revolutionized Fashion profiles well-known early fashion vanguards such as Jeanne Lanvin, Callot Soeurs, and Madeleine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli and Chromat as well as underrepresented women from the mid-1700s to the present, including First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress. Fortunately we live in an age when no one would dare call them “that little seamstress,” as Paul Poiret disdainfully referred to Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel more than a century ago. This book also illuminates issues of representation and creativity, as well as the labour challenges surrounding fashion today.
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