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Style is more practice than theory for most people, but that doesn’t make fashion writing any less fun. Quite the opposite: a slew of new books offer a wide range of stylistic inspiration and history in the form of a handsome coffee table. It’s rich in detail, perfect for a sewing-obsessed library, but designed with clarity and restraint, it’s equally appropriate for the casual surfer or gift-recipient. Refreshingly, this season’s crop is also ambitious in theme and scope, offering fresh and holistic approaches without compromising on a beautiful product.
men’s fashion book
The widest range of these is men’s fashion book From Phaidon, packed in 500 color illustrations plus an extended introduction by Jacob Gallagher from The Wall Street Journal. As you’d expect from a publisher known for ambitious and illustrious volumes in fine art, architecture, and cooking, the photography is top notch. The usual stories are well represented: English and Italian heritage brands, Americana, French Cool, Belgian and Japanese avant-garde. But there’s also Harlem legend Dapper Dan and Finn agitator Rudi Gernreich (the inventor of the thong), more interest in African and Asian fashion and space for young designers like Grace Wells Bonner and Luke Sabbat. Besides well-known industry and brand names, there is a huge range of sports stars, actors, musicians, politicians and public figures.
The sprawling book is arranged alphabetically, making some strange combinations (Malcolm X meets Marcello Mastroianni; John Loeb right after Steve Jobs). Readers are encouraged to scroll through the cross-references on each page, which take you from Sulka to Hermès and from Miles Davis to the Brooks Brothers. Gallagher heroically tries to tie everything together but can only do so much. As ambitious as the book is, it inevitably lacks focus, but it is a pleasure to browse through.
Tom Ford: 002
If there’s one name in men’s fashion that represents individual focus and balance, it’s Tom Ford. The designer’s first book painted his time on Gucci’s head; Tom Ford: 002 It is all about him. He ranks his eponymous brand’s clothing, accessories, eyewear, and fragrances, along with the models and celebrities who wear them. The introduction notes the return of Anna Wintour, who recalls introducing Ford’s previous book in 2004, and reflects on humor, drive, and aesthetic consistency. Contributions from Graydon Carter and Bridget Foley limit reading of the saint, but Foley’s interview with Ford illuminates: a clear look at excesses as well as the glories of the Gucci years, reflecting on the challenges of parenting and the meaning of social change. We learn about Ford’s journey into the world of perfume and how English tailoring with a sturdy frame gave a big dose of American flair. The photography is great and perfect for the brand: acres of velvet and suede, tuxedos and skinny trunks. Besides suits and shades, there are women’s clothing and watches. Above all, there is the ostentation and provocation. It might be a more cautious picture, but it’s still Tom Ford.
Modern Gentleman Pictures
Modern Gentleman Pictures It couldn’t be more different. Illustrator Faye Wang, who goes by the name of Mr. Sloboy, presents a book that catalogs his work for heritage brands such as Dunhill, Barbour, and Drake, as well as magazine illustrations and photos of friends and industry stars. His characters are cheerful, good-natured and at times miserable: an arty kind of Barbour who carries enough brushes to teach an art class in his pockets and has a splash of paint on his coat; Bees are chasing a man in a beautiful chocolate suit with a tray of honey. Slowboy’s background as an advertising creator for Beijing comes in an unusual blend of simplicity and detail: his graphics are never messy or busy, but capture the stitching on the lapel or the fringed edge of the scarf.
The book features contributions from friends such as Jeremy Hackett, Mark Choo, and W. David Marks. Instagram favorites including Scott Schuman, Jake Grantham, and Ethan Newton are among the photos. As Yasuto Kamoshita says in his introduction, “You can always tell who they are at a glance,” but “their facial expressions are a bit more gentle and hesitant, reflecting Mr. Sloboy’s personality.” The book is a collection of clothes and characters. In a world of glossy brand catalogs, these illustrations represent a breath of fresh air, gentleness and intelligence.
BUY NOW: $45
Black Ivy: a revolution in style
“Every new fashion is a form of rebellion,” Sidney Poitier says in the pages of Jason Jules and Graham Marsh. Black Ivy: a revolution in style. The book tells the story of the vital role black artists, musicians, politicians, and communities played in the Ivy style, a boom of button-up collars, sweaters, and soft-shouldered jackets that traveled far beyond preppy New England establishment. It talks about the role of the Ivy style in a larger story of black artistic achievement, social change, and the battle for equal rights. Here they look sharp but are far from monotonous: artist Charles White in tweed, musician Eric Dolphy in a shawl cardigan, MLK in original suits and skinny ties, and, of course, Miles Davis, the world’s best argument for a mint green button-down, pictured in every Something from seersucker to jackets.
Besides the famous names, there are street style, picket style, and college scenes in Morehouse and Howard reminiscent of the legend of Teruyoshi Hayashida. Take Ivy Pictures. Jules and Marsh sweeps across literature, music, film, sports, politics and advertising. This is a book of captivating and tender photographs, at once a celebration of style and a commemoration of real life. It’s a much-needed companion for books like Tanesha Ford’s Edited Topics, shows how men’s style was just as appropriate as women’s at the time. It is a fitting tribute to continuity and change. As Jules says, Black Ivy was “challenging the status quo while simultaneously honoring it”.
BUY NOW: $49.45