The late, great fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez was the subject of a recent exhibit at the Suzanne Geiss Company in New York, which was a big hit with the fashion flock. If you weren't able to catch the show, you can see what all the fuss is about in the accompanying monograph. Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco by Mauricio and Roger Padilha (Rizzoli) is a loving and lavish tribute to the Puerto Rican-born artist, whose expressive illustrations helped define a generation of fashion—and whose Polaroids and Instamatics of celebrities and fashion insiders like Karl Lagerfeld, Tina Chow, Jessica Lange, Grace Jones and Jerry Hall mugging for the camera presaged Tumblr and Instagram by more than three decades. But the most compelling thing about this lavish tome, aside from the sheer beauty of the illustrations, is the remarkable range of styles Lopez was able to master in his work, which regularly appeared in the pages of WWD, Vogue, The New York Times and Interview throughout the Seventies and Eighties.
An Extraordinary Theory of Objects by Stephanie LaCava (Harper), is not a fashion book, per se. Rather it's a clever coming-of-age memoir written by a young woman who went on to work at Vogue and is now a freelance fashion writer and literary-minded style blogger with a devoted online following. The memoir chronicles the Connecticut-born LaCava's teenage years in France, where she battled anxiety, anorexia and depression with the help of a fertile imagination and the beloved objects—mushrooms, beetles, kaleidoscopes and the like (described in encyclopedic illustrated footnotes)—that took on talismanic healing properties and helped the author survive an emotionally fraught adolescence.
Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington has also seen her share of ups and downs (from the car accident that sliced off her left eyelid to the death of her adored older sister to two divorces) and she shares all of it—along with her long and storied career as a model-turned-uber-stylist—in the pages of Grace: A Memoir (Random House). The book includes the author's whimsical line drawings and a selection of photos from her personal and professional archives, taking readers from her early days on the northern coast of Wales through her years as a model in Swinging London to her current incarnation as the industry's grand dame of the fashion image.
You can see more of Coddington's fashion images—along with those created by fellow Vogue sittings editors Babs Simpson, Polly Mellen, Tonne Goodman, Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, Camilla Nickerson and Phyllis Posnick—in Vogue: The Editor's Eye (Abrams), a coffee table compendium of some of the most striking images from the magazine's 120-year history. These include Irving Penn's seminal shot of Jean Patchett in Peru c. 1949 (styled by Babs Simpson), which revolutionized fashion photography, the final shots of Marilyn Monroe in 1962 (also styled by Simpson and shot by Bert Stern), the infamous Nastassja Kinski with serpent spread (styled by Polly Mellen and shot by Richard Avedon) and 1975's groundbreaking Story of Ohh series, starring Lisa Taylor as a libidinous hedonist (styled by Mellen and shot by Helmut Newton).
Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf Goodman by Sara James Mnookin (Harper Design) celebrates the 111th anniversary of the venerated luxury specialty store by way of a picture-heavy oral history from such BG fans as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Plum Sykes, Candice Bergen, Susan Lucci, Michael Kors, Candy Pratts Price, Mickey Boardman, Rachel Zoe and Joan Rivers (who claims she's been shopping at BG since she was "in utero").
Meanwhile, Diane von Furstenberg and the Tale of the Empress's New Clothes by Camilla Morton (Harper Design) is billed as "a fashion fairy tale memoir." It recounts a feminized version of the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairytale, interwoven with the story of the CFDA president (and creator of the wrap dress) from her childhood in Brussels and marriage to Prince Egon von Furstenberg to the founding of her company in the Seventies and late-life marriage to her other prince (Barry Diller), all accompanied by DVF's illustrations and told in fanciful, once-upon-a-time language that, while likely to be wearying to most adult readers, is sure to appeal to budding fashionistas.
The similarly titled Empress of Fashion: A Life of Diana Vreeland by Amanda Mackenzie Stuart (HarperCollins) shines the spotlight on another iconic fashion luminary. Vreeland, of course, is the oft-quoted editor who made a name for herself with her 35-year career at Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, before going on to oversee the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early Seventies. This exhaustively researched bio traces the evolution of Diana Dalziel, an unloved ugly duckling amid swans on the Upper East Side, into Diana Vreeland, an iconoclastic force to be reckoned with. Responsible for some of the most indelible fashion images from the Thirties through the Sixties, the editrix was as highly imaginative in recounting the details of her own life as she was in conjuring up a fashion story—and given to dramatically regal pronouncements (as in the famous, "Pink is the navy blue of India!" and "Unshined shoes are the end of civilization").
In The Style Mentors (Harper Design), author Eylssa Dimant introduces readers to women who (as the subtitle puts it) "Define the Art of Dressing Today." She divides said women into eight categories and dishes on the history, style secrets and must-haves of each, starting with "Icons" (Marie Antoinette, Babe Paley, Kate Moss) and moving into "Mavericks" (Marchesa Luisa Casati, Isabella Blow, Diane Pernet), "Sirens" (Marilyn Monroe, Josephine Baker, Dita Von Teese), "Bohemians" (Talitha Getty, Anita Pallenberg, Lou Doillon), "Minimalists" (Donna Karan, Sofia Coppola) and so on. While none of the inclusions are particularly newsworthy (obviously, Patti Smith is a "Rocker" and Carolina Herrera a "Classicist)", there are a few omissions that are downright puzzling: Miuccia Prada is hailed as a minimalist, for instance, while Jil Sander goes completely unmentioned. Nonetheless, this is an engaging, highly readable enterprise, full of great images, fun quotes and informative sidebars that will inspire you to refine your own signature style in ways you may not have previously considered.
Less of a straightforward biography than a tour through the mind of a troubled genius as filtered through the prism of his work, Alexander McQueen: The Life and the Legacy by Judith Watt (Harper Design) offers readers a ringside seat into the designer's creative process, starting with his years on Savile Row, at Central Saint Martins and progressing through his early shows and time at Givenchy through to the London collections, Gucci tenure and final days of his legacy. With a foreword by McQueen confidant Daphne Guinness and quotes from many of his nearest and dearest sprinkled liberally throughout, this is a winningly intimate portrait of a uniquely brilliant designer.
Audrey: The 60s by David Wills (HarperCollins) presents an extravagant photographic chronicle of Audrey Hepburn's film and fashion career in the 1960s that pairs 200-plus photos from the era with quotes from the actress and those that knew her. There are never-before-seen publicity stills from some of her best-loved movies (Breakfast at Tiffany's, Charade, My Fair Lady, How to Steal a Million, Two for the Road), as well as previously unpublished photographs by Bert Stern, Cecil Beaton, Douglas Kirkland, William Klein and many others. It is, in short, a visual treasure trove designed to appeal to fans of Hepburn's timeless look, focusing on the era in which the actress became a bona fide style icon.
That other Hepburn style icon is also given the hardcover treatment in Katharine Hepburn: Rebel Chic (Rizzoli). Written by a handful of fashion historian authors (including my former colleague, Nancy MacDonell), the book accompanies the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Lincoln Center exhibit Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, and disseminates Hepburn's tomboyish personal style and public image, which were entirely self-created. Along with insightful, beautifully written essays, the book includes many never-before-published images of Kate the Great's costumes and personal wardrobe, all of which showcase the carefully cultivated anti-fashion persona that, ironically, made her a true fashion original.
Kate: The Kate Moss Book (Rizzoli) features 300 images of the supermodel by such photographers as Mario Testino, Corinne Day, Mert & Marcus, David Sims, Mario Sorrenti, Arthur Elgort, Inez & Vinhoodh, Terry Richardson and Juergen Teller (to name a few). Created by Kate herself with editing help from Fabien Baron, this highly personal retrospective traces her evolution from "new kid on the catwalk" to one of the most enduring models of all time and offers readers a rare, intimate glimpse into the world of Mrs. Hince. And, in keeping with Kate's chameleon-like visage, there are eight different covers from which to choose.
Tim Walker is a style icon of a different sort, having produced some of the most witty and whimsical fashion photographs of his generation. A long-time contributor to British Vogue (and more recently, W magazine), Tim Walker: Story Teller by Robin Muir (Abrams) is the companion volume to the Somerset House exhibit of the same name and features 170 of his fantastical, madcap images. The best of the bunch display a childlike sense of wonder and exuberance, and are populated by improbably beautiful models and celebrities who find themselves in improbable situations, whether it's fending off a cartoonish aircraft that appears to have crash-landed in the middle of the drawing room, ogling a UFO that's hovering alongside the horses and hounds the middle of a hunt, or stumbling upon a be-suited Humpty Dumpty who has cracked in two, leaking yolk and beseeching his glamorous, fur-clad rescuer for help. All told, this book is the perfect companion to hunker down with on a cold winter's night.