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November 18, 2012

Fashionable Fireside Reading 2012

The best coffee table books to get and give this holiday season

By Nancy Staab

Wrap up these gorgeous books for your fashion, foodie and style-phile friends and deck your own coffee tables with these lavish beauties.




Kate: The Kate Moss Book  [Rizzoli, $85]

Created by Kate Moss herself, this book is a highly personal retrospective of Kate Moss’s career, tracing her evolution from doe-eyed waif, to one of the most iconic models of all time. The book will be released with eight unique covers, to be shipped to customers at random. 


Vogue:  The Editor’s Eye [Abrams, $75]

Powerhouse editors like Grace Coddington, Camilla Nickerson, Tonne Goodman and Polly Mellen are the subject of  this latest Vogue tome, which also happens to feature the work of top photographers such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Annie Leibovitz and top models through the ages like Kate Moss,  Linda Evangelista and Verushka.



Vogue Weddings:  Brides, Dresses, Designers [Knopf, $85]

From models to socialites, Vogue has documented some of the most famous brides, bridal gowns and bridal locations in the world over the past 120 years. See it all here: from Lauren Santo Domingo’s European wedding to Sarah Jessica parker modeling couture gowns and glimpses of historic brides from Queen Elizabeth to Jackie Kennedy.


Tim Walker Story Teller [Abrams, $75]

This book chronicles Walker’s flamboyant, fairytale-laden fashion shoots for Vogue, Neiman Marcus, etc, including several collaborations with filmmaker Tim Burton.





W: The First 40 Years [Abrams, $75]

Provocative fashion, photos, and celeb portraiture define this look back at 40 years of W coverage. Highlights include Angelina and Jolie playing happy family, Madonna, Damien Hirst, Daphne Guinness and Alexander McQueen as captured by the world’s top photographers.


The Sartorialist: Closer [Penguin, $30]

With his new book, “Closer,” street-fashion photographer/fashion blogger “The Sartorialist” (aka Scott Schuman) cements his stylistic street cred. Closer encompasses over 500 pages of idiosyncratically dressed characters based on Shuman’s wanderings from Milan to Morrocco, Savannah to Seoul. These diverse characters definitely wear their clothes instead of visa versa. Read more here:


René Gruau: Men  [Assouline, $75]

Consummate fashion illustrator Rene Gruau was known for his glamorous images of women, whether draped in furs or lolling in a bikini. However, his images of men for fashion magazines and blue-chip advertisements in the 1940’s and 1950’s also conveyed a louche elegance. Buy this book and you may end up framing much of its content.




The Foothills Cuisine of Blackberry Farm [Clarkson Potter, $60]

On the heels of its first cookbook, the lavish Tennessee resort Blackberry Farm is back with a second cookbook chronicling the inn’s famous, rustic-meets-refined cuisine. Think: skillet cornbread, beans and greens with pepper vinegar, and pumpkin pudding with Tennessee rum hard sauce. Plus dreamy pastoral photography.


Modernist Cuisine at Home [The Cooking Lab, $140]

If last year’s food book to covet, Modernist Cuisine, was a bit too pricy and hefty to handle at 4 volumes and $456, this concise version will have your at-home molecular gastronomist over the moon. The 400 recipes offer new takes on classics from mac and cheese and burgers, to the best pressure-cooked vegetable soups, with geeky charts and visual diagrams.


1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die [Universe, $36]

This critic’s guide covers everything from Scottish highlands classics to the newest whiskies from Japan, plus consideration of bourbon and ryes. Bonus items include a whiskey and food pairing section and whiskey cocktail recipes.



Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook [Bloomsbury, $50 ]

The buzzy restaurant Polpo, may be based in London, but like its name which translates to “octopus,” the restaurant and cookbook take inspiration from the seafood-centric cuisine of Venice, Italy. The 120 recipes include a warm octopus salad,  osso buco with saffron risotto, braised scallops with prosciutto and peas, and  blood orange & Campari cake that conjure up the city known as La Serenissima.


Edible Selby [Abrams, $30]

What happens when a famous artist/photographer from T Magazine shifts focus from happy hipsters and their habitats to the current, foodie-obsessed zeitgeist? The result: a compelling book and photo exhibit documenting food heroes and artisans at work and play around the world. Selby’s subjects range from the best restaurant in the world, the haute-foraging haven, Noma, in Copenhagen to Rockaway’s taco shack/surf shop in Queens. Read more here:


Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery  [Artisan, $50]

If you are expecting a hoity-toity cookbook from the chef/owner of French Laundy and Per Se, think again. Keller is also playful and so is this book, which includes glorified recipes for Oreos, Ho Hos  and Nutter Butters as well as American blueberry muffins and chocolate chunk and chip cookies. There are also plenty of classic French recipes for macarons, mille-feuilles, and tartes aux fruits in this book, which covers scones, cakes, brioche, puff pastry and more.


James Beard Foundation’s Best of the Best [Chronicle Books, $60]

The subtitle of this book is “A 25th Anniversary Celebration of America’s Outstanding Chefs.” This book has it all: photos; recipes; profiles of 21 top chefs like Daniel Boulud , Eric Ripert, Alice Waters, Grant Achatz and Alfred Portale and a foreword by Martha Stewart. Likewise, recipes range from an apricot galette to a porcini flan with Dungeness crab and black truffle dashi---all tested and proven by top chef in the top kitchens in the world.




Carolyne Roehm: Flowers  [Clarkson Potter, $85]

Author and tastemaker Roehm returns with a beautifully illustrated new book on flowers with over 300 images: many frame-worthy. The book is a visual and literary essay about flowers,  floral arrangements and the gardening life—from her difficult “Greta Garbo” peonies to her 10,000 tulip bulbs.



Soirée: Entertaining with Style  [Rizzoli, $50]

This scintillating entertaining book by Atlanta author Danielle Rollins is like a glass of champagne: bright, elegant and fizzy. The beautiful book documents the frivolous and practical aspects of gracious party giving—from immaculate table settings to menu planning and recipes. The parties range from a playful pizza party with Prosecco pops for dessert, to an elegant black-tie New Year’s celebration. There’s also plenty of  cameos from Rollins’ celeb pals, including Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose, Miles Redd, Emily Giffin and Rachel Roy. Read more here:


The Age of Elegance: Alex Papachristidis  [Rizzoli, $55]

Alex Papchristidis is an old-school, NYC designer in the “more is more” vein. Wallpaper is layered with fabric, throw pillows, patterned rugs, decorative fringe, animal print, antiques, accessories and all the trimmings. The result is not overkill, but in Papchristidi’s deft decorating style, a rich, cosseted environment that is perfectly balanced. The book’s chapters hint at the uptown decors: “Fifth Avenue Splendor,” “Old World Opulence,” and “A Connoisseur’s Collections,” etc. Who else would dare deck out a dining room with Chinoiserie wallpaper, painted floors and purple velvet upholstery?



Miles Redd: Big Book of Chic  [Assouline, $75]

NYC designer and Atlanta native Miles Redd is known for his cinematic style of glamour, bold splashes of color, and layered rooms that simultaneously nod to tradition and the present day. As the title suggests, Miles Redd: The Big Book of Chic manages to be both posh and playful. The bold tone is set before you even crack the book open, with a cover depicting a racy, zebra-upholstered door. Less a predictable and pedantic “how- to,” than an exercise in free-association, the book juxtaposes fabulously chic interiors by Redd with the people, literary passages, collectibles, and art that have inspired him, illustrating the  foundations of Redd’s distinct aesthetic. Read more here:


Habitually Chic: Creativity at Work  [PowerHouse Books, $50]

Habitually Chic blogger Heather Clawson trains her eye on some of today’s top creative and analyzes how their work environments inform their aesthetics. Revealing photos of the work spaces of J. Crew’s Jenna Lyons, jewelry designer Philip Crangi, fabric designer Lulu deKwiatkowksi, Peter Som, Jonathan Adler, Michael Bastian and more, combine with the creatives’ own takes on inspiration, work habits, style icons, etc.


Wayne Thieubaud: A Retrospective  [Rizzoli, $45]

California artist Wayne Thieubaud made his name in the 60’s with luscious, impasto paintings of cakes, pies and sweets in pastel colors that are sweet enough to eat. He also has painted a series of gumball machines, women’s shoes, lipsticks and other confections. In his later years he has branched out to diagrammatic, bird’s eye landscapes. The subjects may be nostalgic but the technique is very modern, formal and pared down to the essential.



Jonathan Becker: 30 Years at Vanity Fair  [Assouline, $150]

The worlds of society, politics, art and pop culture collide in this tribute to roving, Vanity Fair portrait photographer Jonathan Becker.  His penetrating  portraits range from Valentino and Diana Vreeland (curled on a red couch with a Cheshire Cat grin), to politicos, hip hop celebs, and artists like Robert Mapplethorpe, Martha Graham and China’s latest painting sensation. All together, his portraits represent a telling portrait of the current zeitgeist.


In the Spirit of New Orleans  [Assouline, $45]

The almost-mythic city of New Orleans gets enshrined yet again with author Debra Shriver’s tribute to the city’s entrancing architecture, music, cocktails, cuisine, and gumbo of historical influences. The books is also a useful travel reference with Shriver’s insider list of N’walins’ top cocktail spots, music venues and can’t-miss restaurants.



In the Spirit of Palm Beach  [Assouline, $45]

Pamela Fiori, the past editor of Town & Country magazine, certainly knows tony and she’s nailed the tony playgrounds of Palm Beach in this compact tribute to this golden enclave of wasps and Lilly Pulitzer. Gilded Age parties, chic watering holes, luxe shopping and immaculate beaches abound. The cover itself is a cross between a Slim Aarons society portrait and Lilly Pulitzer beach party.


Hollywood Unseen  [Antique Collectors Club, $75]

For the film-lover and retro-buff, this book culls publicity studio portraits of golden age Hollywood stars at home and play. There’s Joan Collins in ponytail and jeans (!) tending to a bird in a bird cage, Rita Hayworth lolling in an inner tube in the pool, Bing Crosby milking a cow, and Burt Lancaster in bathing suit, reading a script. The fact that these seemingly casual portraits are actually carefully staged takes nothing away from their charm. Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Laurel and Hardy, Humphrey Bogart, Vivien Leigh, Gary Cooper and Katherine Hepburn are just some of the luminaries caught by the lens in this book.


Slim Aarons La Dolce Vita  [Abrams, $85]

The American photographer of society swans and beautiful people, resided for a time in Italy during and after World War II. The result: a treasure trove of glamorous images of Italian villas and gardens, Italian aristocrats in their frescoed homes, and the glitterati  and jetsetters enjoying the height of la dolce vita in the 1950’s Rome.  There are celeb cameos in the book by Marcello Mastroianni, Ursula Andress, Joan Fontaine and Tyrone Powers. 



Ralph Steadman: Extinct Boids  [Bloomsbury, $50]

What happened when bird expert/writer Ceri Levy asked droll illustrator Ralph Steadman to illustrate his book on extinct birds? Well, fact soon gave way to fantastic fiction, and the result is 100 bird paintings and scientific profiles that may or may not describe actual species, their habitats and habits, such as the Greak Auk, the Dodo, the Red-moustached Fruit Dove,  the Gob Swallow and the Needless Smut. Half the fun is trying to discern which extinct birds once really existed …or not!