New York Fashion Week is nearly upon us, but if you can't make it to the shows — not to mention those in Paris, London, or Milan — there's plenty of spectacle to be enjoyed from the comforts of your coffee table. Preview ten of the best fashion books out this fall, here.
Robert Fairer has photographed Alexander McQueen's runway shows since the late designer's early days, when only a porn magazine was interested in the snapshots. But he stuck with the designer, capturing almost every single one of his collections from his first in 1993 to his death in 2010, during which time he bore witness to everything from robots to snow machines to rain on the catwalk. Alexander McQueen: Unseen, his new collection of unpublished photos out now (Yale University Press), gathers those moments, along with all the madness backstage.
Also in attendance at McQueen's legendary "Highland Rape" show was Alix Browne, a writer, editor, and now W's features director who's attended hundreds of runway presentations over the last 20 years. Runway: The Spectacle of Fashion, her new book (Rizzoli), chronicles the stand-outs, from models floating down a Milanese canal at Carol Christian's Poell's 2004 show to the moving escalators at spring 2013 Louis Vuitton.
Before Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue, a bright-orange tome chronicling Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington's imaginative editorials, got a reprint last year, its limited editions were so in demand they were going for thousands of dollars. Now, it's getting a follow-up, too: Grace: The American Vogue Years (Phaidon), takes up where the last one left off with Bruce Weber and continues up to the present — a 15-year track ranging from the work of icons like Arthur Elgort to newer image-makers like Jamie Hawkesworth.
Since 2013, Hood By Air's casting director Kevin Amato has been shaking up the runways with untraditional faces he finds both on Instagram and the streets, making for a rare and welcome show of diversity that's helped propel the likes of Luka Sabbat to stardom. Amato's also a photographer, and he has a penchant for capturing kids he scouts around his neighborhood in the Bronx — a group he calls The Importants, which is also the name of his brand-new book of portraits (Phaidon), with an afterword by none other than Rick Owens.
Over the course of his 44-year career, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac has designed everything from a Kermit the Frog coat for Lady Gaga to more modest, rainbow cross-adorned garb for Pope John Paul II. The Moroccan designer has never been a stranger to industry crossovers, and especially when it comes to music, as Malcolm McLaren, his late long-time best friend, points out in Jean-Charles de Castelbajac - Fashion, Art & Rock'n'Roll (TeNeues). The book traces de Castelabajac's trajectory, aided by interviews with everyone from Inès de la Fressange to Christian Lacroix and dozens of brightly hued photos of his most enigmatic designs, from a walking Lucky Strike carton to ballooning Mickey Mouse flare pants.
Rather than playing up the glamour of the famous subjects he's captured over the last three decades, the German photographer Peter Lindbergh's genius lies in letting them speak for themselves. From a fresh-faced Kate Moss in overalls to the more traditional supers of the '90s in simple white shirts, Lindbergh's knack for understatement is now at the center of Peter Lindbergh: A Different Vision on Fashion Photography (Taschen). (There is also a major retrospective of his work going up at the Kunsthal in Rotterdam.) Entirely in black and white, the book's 400-plus images stretch from Azzedine Alaïa and Tina Turner in the '80s to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt captured just last year.
There are a few things Marc Jacobs is rarely seen without these days – one is nail polish and another is his dog Neville, a bull terrier with nearly 200,000 Instagram followers and a life so glamorous, it's now being canonized. Neville Jacobs: I'm Marc's Dog (Rizzoli) chronicles the canine's daily life, which consists largely of jaunts around Soho with Hanne Gaby Odiele, trips on wood-paneled private jets with other furry companions, and cuddles with Christy Turlington and Karlie Kloss. Oh, and he's an activist, too.
Coach turns 75 this year, and while the New York brand's seen plenty of change in that tenure, the most marked might have come in the last few years: Since British designer Stuart Vevers took over as creative director, the brand's been putting on runway shows and rolling out risk-taking designs favored by everyone from Debbie Harry to Tavi Gevinson. In fact, it's Harry who has the foreword to Coach: A History of New York Cool (Rizzoli), which traces the house's origins from a leather goods house to a commercial powerhouse.
Though Sam McKnight works almost exclusively behind the scenes, the legendary hairstylist has made a name for himself in nonetheless, working on the manes of everyone from Björk to Princess Diana to Tilda Swinton to Kate Moss. The latter even gets her own chapter, "Kate," in Hair by Sam McKnight (Rizzoli), which begins with a gushing intro by Karl Lagerfeld: "There are few artists ('hairdresser' is the worst word I can imagine) as gifted as Sam in the worlds of Hair and Fashion," he says, before his silvery ponytail makes way for hundreds of other signature styles, from '80s poof-balls to Linda Evangelista's pixie cut and Lady Gaga's silver locks.
Few can say they have a personal brand as strong as Donatella Versace, who appears completely stripped down, save her trademark bleached hair and a cigarette, on the very first page of her book chronicling her family's namesake label. Dedicated to Prince, and compiled with Maria Luisa Frisa and W's Stefano Tonchi, Versace, out later this fall (Rizzoli), also features contributions from Tim Blanks and Ingrid Sischy; photos from names like Irving Penn and Richard Avedon; and eye-catching, fleshy campaigns from the '80s to the present.
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