To give a lavish coffee-table book to the aesthetes in your life is to show you appreciate them and their tastes. I've made a wish list of this season's standout releases to indulge the eyes and ignite the minds of your stylish loved ones.
If you're going to splurge on a volume created using the best paper stock, printing ink and binding, select a subject that deserves the royal treatment. Assouline offers two luxurious reads that are the next best thing to holding the precious treasures contained within them. The Pearl Necklace ($85 U.S.) is a glistening book about those elusive orbs and the maharajas, first ladies and Hollywood starlets who've sported them. And Fendi Roma ($195 U.S.) celebrates the storied Italian fashion house's 90th birthday by depicting fur to such tactile depths that it seems as if your fingers could sink into the page.
To indulge a more democratically minded style watcher, search out Kevin Amato's first release, The Importants ($65). The influential photographer is a street caster who finds diverse, authentic models in the Bronx for avant-garde fashion designers such as Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air. He depicts tough kids with real tenderness, offering an intimate glimpse of fashion's next generation. The pages of a second Phaidon offering, Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print 1976-1980 ($39.95), are cheap, lightweight newsprint with a slightly sour smell, infusing this comprehensive reproduction of Tony Mott's incredible collection of London punk ephemera with an appropriately rebellious spirit. There isn't a more visceral, complete time capsule of that brief cultural quake.
This year, we lost many of our finest creative heroes, and London's Reel Art Press offers two excellent tributes. The man responsible for making Andy Warhol's Factory shimmer, Billy Name, is remembered in the substantial volume, Billy Name: The Silver Age (£45). A particularly sensitive, reclusive visionary, Name is rarely given the credit his influence deserves, and it's poignant that this book of his photographs was released just before his death this past summer. In Muhammad Ali: Fighter's Heaven 1974 (£29.95), the legendary boxer is depicted preparing for the fight in Zaire that would cement his mythical status. Offering extensive access to a training regimen that any athlete or artist will relate to, this volume is inspiration incarnate.
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