TEXT, VIVIAN KELLY
Over the years, I’ve developed a lasting obsession with coffee table books published by Taschen, Abbeville Press, Abrams, and most recently, Assouline, after meeting M. Assouline at Book Expo in LA. two years ago.
Although I will always love fashion and continue to report on it, my taste for clothes has veered to classic “basics”: cashmere pullovers, oversize turtlenecks, LaCoste shirts, moccasins, dark jeans and lots of well cut navy and black jackets.
What really interests me on a personal level now is fine jewelry and books. Those items are always on my list to Santa.
Sometimes, I can’t wait for Santa to check his list and I throw caution to the wind. The home office book shelf is groaning under the weight of the books I’ve collected. It all started when my friend, Laura Wood, my agent at Fine Print Literary Managment, gifted me Pucci – A Renaissance in Fashion, by Shirley Kennedy. I’ve consigned many designer bags, shoes, and clothes over the years, but I have never parted with a single of my precious coffee table tomes. In a recent conversation with Paul Wilmot, we reflected on the decline of magazine print, but cheered up when we began discussing the tactile delights of spending time with our favorite coffee table books.
Last year, I went through an interiors book kick, spurred by a conversation with Interior Decorator friend, Demi Schimenti, who thought my newly decorated home was “a little bit Bunny Williams”. That evening, I ordered: Bunny Williams’ Point of View, by Dan Shaw, New Paris Interiors, edited by Angelika Taschen, Eileen Gray by Philippe Garner.
The year before, it was jewelry: Verdura, by Patricia Corbet, Seaman Schepps by Amanda Vaill and Janet Zapata, and Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair With Jewelry, by Francois Curiel.
2010 is about fashion designers and fashion icons. The chase started with my coming across Brendan Gill’s Tallulah [Holt, Reinhard and Winston, Inc.], which was in an antique dealer friend’s [Cromlix & Co.] delicious cache of treasures he sells from his barn-showroom. I was there to pick up a vintage Little Red Riding Hood Cape I’d fallen in love with on my previous visit and had come back to buy. Bending over to inspect an emerald green chaise longue, I saw the Tallulah Bankhead book on the shelf and grabbed it. Tallulah’s one of those style icons fashion designers never tire of referencing and flat Internet images were not enough for me.
Mr. Beaton had a dream career which included working as a staff photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue, photographing celebrities in Hollywood, and later serving as the official photographer to the Royal Family. Assouline has published a book that will be the perfect choice for your most discerning fashion friend, just in time for Christmas.As the Assouline press release states,
“Mr. Beaton was instrumental in inventing the cult of the celebrity image while pushing the boundaries of his art form with innovative techniques and staging”.
Inside this book, are Beaton’s clippings from magazines, newspapers, and playbills, which give you insight into this remarkable photographer’s creative process. THis is the first time they’ve been reproduced.
“To flip through the pages is to enter a fabulous and surreal party where Tallulah Bankhead rubs shoulders with a bust of Voltaire and a portrait of Stravinsky; where Beaton’s first trip on the Queen Mary coincides with Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.”
The book is more than just a collection of great images. What sets this one apart is that flipping through, you see how Beaton’s scrapbooks allowed him to play with pictures he had taken (and perhaps those he wished he had) “in the dreamspace of artifice that was always his favorite setting.” It really is the precursor to the modern day “mood board” all fashion designers have in their studios.
To view inside the Beaton book, cut and paste this special hotlink into your browser:
A handbag or cashmere sweater is all well and fine, but a book such as Cecil Beaton – The Art of the Scrapbook, like a diamond, is forever.
Details and Where to Purchase
Cloth over board in slipcase • $250 • 210€ • 170£ • 392 pages • 11.5” x 14.4” • 29 x 36.5 cm • 218 illustrations
ISBN – 9782759404728
Available on www.shopassouline.com and at Assouline Boutiques.