Books and bookshops – two of my favourite things. In fact, I may have bought more books than clothes last year. And it was a good year for book shops. Who can forget the publicity coup that was the Great (accidental) Waterstones Lock-In? Then there was the big reveal of Foyles in Charing Cross Road and the brand new Maison Assouline store in Piccadilly.
Where possible, I like to buy my books from physical bookshops, not online, it’s just an altogether lovelier, more sensorial experience and there are better chances of discovery. Here’s a handful of my current book recommendations (as you can see, I rarely read novels). If you have a book or bookshop recommendation, do share in the comments!
ARTHUR ELGORT / THE BIG PICTURE
Arthur Elgort’s Model’s Manual is one of my most thumbed photo books. Its small size, stunning art direction (by Steve Hiett) and candid (and not-so-candid) photos of supermodels never fail to provide a much-needed spark of inspiration at any given moment. Even better – and bigger – is Elgort’s new tome, The Big Picture (Steidl), a collectable thunker of fashion, portrait and reportage gems that embody his energetic, personality-packed style. (And fear not, the supermodel count in here is sky high too.)
BUY IT FROM: Book Marc, Mount Street, W1 or The Photographer’s Gallery, Ramillies Street, W1
NINA MANANDHAR / WHAT WE WORE
I’m sure most
fashion style enthusiasts must have this book by now but if not, you’re in for such a treat. What We Wore (Prestel) was spawned from the website of the same name and the premise is exactly the same. It’s a compendium of style stories, told through words and pictures depicting what its contributors wore in their youth, whether that’s 60s, 70s, 80s or 90s. The beauty of this book is its relatability. All the photos are personal snapshots, as are the anecdotes that go with them. And each one transports you to a time and place that can’t help but remind you of your own youthful shenanigans and the outfits that defined them.
BUY IT FROM: Louis Vuitton Maison Librairie, New Bond Street, W1
BETTY HALBREICH (WITH REBECCA PALEY) / I’LL DRINK TO THAT
I’m hugely enjoying Betty Halbreich’s autobiography, I’ll Drink To That (Virago) – a memoir from the legendary personal shopper of Bergdorf’s. Halbreich hails from the era of starched gloves and lunches at Schraffts and as a veteran of 38 years at Bergdorf’s has literally seen it all. From working with Geoffrey Beene to playing councellor to her many cash-rich-affection-poor clients and befriending costume designers and society darlings along the way, it’s as much history book as how-to manual, with a few pithy rants on the demise of decency and manners along the way.
BUY IT FROM: Waterstones Piccadilly, W1 – and do enjoy a coffee in the lovely new book-lined mezzanine gallery (top) while you’re there
DANIEL RACHEL / ISLE OF NOISES
I’m much more of a dipper-inner when it comes to reading books as I have a much reduced attention span these days. Isle of Noises (Pan MacMillan) is perfect for me to dip into throughout the year. It’s a collection of lengthy interviews by Daniel Rachel on the process of songwriting and serves as a look inside the brains of a brilliant clutch of British songwriters. If you’re a Clash fan you’ll die for the Mick Jones interview in which he reveals his processes and Joe Strummer’s. Other interviewees include Jarvis Cocker, Bryan Ferry, Robin Gibb and Lily Allen.
BUY IT FROM: Foyles, Charing Cross Road, WC2
AMY LEVERTON / DENIM DUDES: STREET STYLE VINTAGE WORKWEAR OBSESSION (LAURENCE KING)
Denim Dudes (Laurence King) doesn’t come out for another two months but it caught my eye in my publisher’s office*. It’s one for the denim fetishists and the street style element means you can really gorge on all the minutiae of denim design, fabric and styling. It’s menswear heavy but we all know that those sorts of boundaries don’t really exist any more so there are plenty of ideas for women to borrow. The photography is great too.
NICK WAPLINGTON / ALEXANDER MCQUEEN WORKING PROCESS (DAMIANI)
This is set to become a bit of a classic as it offers a real warts-n-all behind-the-scenes look of the kind you rarely get in fashion. Art photographer Waplington was commissioned by McQueen to document the making of the Horn of Plenty collection in 2009. Waplington kept a low profile, snapping away during research meetings, fittings and the like in his raw reportage style. Due to publishing issues, the finished book was put on hold for a while when McQueen was still alive, and then after he died, it was agreed to hold back even longer. The book was published last year but this year will see the accompanying exhibition of the same name at Tate Britain in March.
BUY IT FROM: Claire De Rouen, Charing Cross Road, WC2
*yes I’m working on a book!