Don’t overlook splashy coffee table books as holiday gifts
Art, architecture, music or travel: Coffee table books can fill just the right gift niche, especially when the cost would be budget-busting if you bought one for yourself.
Offerings abound at holiday time. Some suggestions:
“Architectural Digest: AD at 100, a Century of Style,” by Architectural Digest. Abrams. In her foreword, Anna Wintour calls the book “quite the house tour.” It’s a centenary celebration of homes past and present. Marlene Dietrich lounges in Beverly Hills, circa the 1930s. Kylie Jenner stands atop a suede pouf next to a white grand piano at home in Los Angeles. The studios of famous artists and the homes of legendary architects are included. $100.
“My Name is Prince,” by Randee St. Nicholas, Amistad. A retrospective of the photographer’s 25 years working for Prince. Over 384 pages, St. Nichols sheds light on some of their most intriguing shoots. In the mid-1990s, she ran across the charred remains of an elegant building in Hollywood, hired a shiny grand piano and shot Prince bathed in red light amid the ruins. $90.
“Jeff Buckley: His Own Voice,” edited by Mary Guibert and David Browne. DaCapo/Hachette Books. Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Buckley’s debut album, “Grace,” is this collection of never before seen journals and unpublished lyrics. Buckley died in 1997 in an accidental drowning three years after “Grace” was released. The book intersperses photos of such artifacts as his guitars and favorite books with his writings, presented in his own hand. $40.
“Guitar: The World’s Most Seductive Instrument,” by David Schiller. Workman. Brief profiles of 24 guitar gods along with the instruments themselves, with detailed descriptions of why each is important. Accompanied by a researcher, Schiller traveled far and wide to study and photograph hundreds of guitars. This is a gift for the hardcore. $35.
“Rihanna,” by Rihanna. Phaidon. It’s 504 pages. It weighs 15 pounds. It’s Rihanna’s visual biography. In more than 1,400 photos, the superstar shares her backstage moments, vacation moments and fashion moments, along with the obligatory concert moments. She smokes. She skis. She gets tattooed. There’s little from her childhood, though one of her report cards notes she was “sure of herself and displays a positive attitude.” The cheapest of four versions sells for $150.
“Game of Thrones: The Costumes,” costumes by Michele Clapton, written by Gina McIntyre. Insight Editions. The costumes of the HBO series were integral in bringing George R.R. Martin’s world alive. Best jewelry? The dragon necklace of Daenerys. Best wedding gown? Sansa had two, one in gold with the Lannister lion embroidered at the back of the neck and another in spectral white with a fur collar and fish clasps influenced by her mother. $75.
“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: A Visual History,” by Fred Rogers Productions, Tim Lybarger, Melissa Wagner and Jenna McGuigan. Potter/Penguin Random House. With a new feature film starring Tom Hanks, the beloved children’s television host and his show remain hot commodities. The book offers a guide to characters, puppets and episodes. $35.
“Worn on this Day: The Clothes that Made History,” by Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell. Running Press. Space suits, Olympic uniforms, armor: Centuries of garments are revealed. The book time hops in a calendar format. On Oct. 13, 1970, Angela Davis was captured at a motel, almost unrecognizable with her “Black Power” afro straightened and pulled under a short wig. Starting Sept. 1, 1941, Jews in Germany were required to wear a yellow Star of David sewn to their clothes. $28.
“Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion,” by Marcellas Reynolds. Abrams. From the first to make it into catalogs and onto the covers of magazines to runway stars past and present, this book pays homage to black models. Iman Abdulmajid, included, once said: “I’ll be truly happy when we’re not counting the number of ethnically diverse models on a fashion runway or campaign...” $50.
“Ralph Lauren: In His Own Fashion,” by Alan Flusser. Abrams. How did little Ralph Lifshitz, born to Jewish immigrants of modest means in the Bronx, become the mighty Ralph Lauren? For starters, he scrutinized the style of 1940s Hollywood stars. But when it came to westerns, Lauren wanted to be Randolph Scott, the “tough, trail-worn cowboy,” rather than the clean-shaven hero riding the white horse, Flusser writes. The book coincides with a new HBO documentary, “Very Ralph.” $50.
“Ballerina: Fashion’s Modern Muse,” by Patricia Mears, Laura Jacobs, Jane Pritchard, Rosemary Harden and Joel Lobenthal. Vendome. The early 20th century included the rise of the ballerina as a cultural figure and the iconic tutu as inspiration for a new style of dress, Mears writes. The influence continues today. See the progression through meaty text and archival photos, stretching from the Ballets Russes of the 1930s to Rei Kawakubo’s tulle and chiffon skirt and “Biker Ballerina” leather jacket for Comme des Garcons in 2005. $60.
“Interview: 50 Years,” introduction by Bob Colacello. Assouline. Andy Warhol once said: “The idea is not to live forever; it is to create something that will.” Among his output in 1969 was the magazine “inter/VIEW: A Monthly Film Journal,” later changed to “Interview.” Colacello, the editor from 1970 to 1983, describes the venture as “part ambition, part accident, a whim, an experiment, something for the kids at the Factory to do.” This volume has it all, from the magazine’s famous interviews and covers to its artwork, illustrations and photography. $250.
“Women: The National Geographic Image Collection,” introduction by Susan Goldberg. National Geographic. The book’s 450 photographs span three centuries and more than 30 countries. With fresh interviews, including Oprah Winfrey, Nancy Pelosi and Roxane Gay. The book coincides with a special issue of National Geographic Magazine written and photographed exclusively by women for the first time, a documentary and a companion exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.
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