Dress up your winter with glittering fashion books

Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times

Love fashion? Fascinated by why we wear what we wear? Or just fond of looking at pretty pictures? Here are five new books that might bring cheer to any would-be stylist.

“Haute Couture Ateliers,” by Helene Farnault (Vendome Press, $75). Those fascinated by delicate craftsmanship may need to just eat this beautiful book up with a spoon. It’s a tribute to the skilled artisans who create the many details of a couture garment, and its photographs are stunning: a cobweb of intricate lace, seeming to float ghostlike over the silk tulle to which it’s sewn; a froth of blue-and-silver sequins like waves on a beach. I got happily lost in this book, imagining the hands that made such beauty; so might you.

“Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute: Parties, Exhibitions, People,” by Hamish Bowles (Abrams Books, $50). The Costume Institute at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art presents annual exhibits from its vast collection, from the sophisticated midcentury elegance of Charles James (2014) to a superhero-themed exhibit examining the transformative power of fashion (2008) to the bold surrealism and innovation of Schiaparelli and Prada (2012). This book, by Vogue’s international editor-at-large, takes us behind the scenes of 14 exhibits. If you couldn’t make it to New York to see these displays, this is the next best thing; great fun to browse.

“Worn Stories” by Emily Spivack (Princeton Architectural Press, $24.95). “We all have a memoir in miniature living in a garment we’ve worn,” writes Spivack, in this beguiling book’s foreword. To that end, she has invited dozens of people (many are writers and/or artists) to write brief essays about what a favorite piece of clothing means to them, each presented next to a stark photo of the garment on a hanger.

“Eula” by Cathy Horyn (Harper Design, $85). Lovely match here of author and subject: Horyn, former fashion critic for The New York Times, wrote the lively text accompanying this first published collection of the work of fashion illustrator Joe Eula. The artist, who died in 2004, spent decades working for a vast roster of legendary designers, and also had a busy career in design of theatrical and concert posters and costumes. His sketches have a loose, effortless quality to them; you feel as if these models in their 1960s shifts might go-go right off the page.

“Women in Clothes,” by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton and 639 others (Blue Rider Press, $30). For those who like their fashion books with lots of words in them, here’s a 500-plus-page anthology that’s crowd-sourced from online surveys filled out by more than 600 women. The book is made up of interview excerpts, photos (in one series, women photocopy their hands and talk about their rings; in another, six strangers wear each other’s favorite outfits), and random musings on what our clothing says about us.