Buying clothes or jewelry for someone who loves fashion can be tricky, even for those who work in the industry. So if you're looking for a gift for your style-conscious friend, why not compliment her style and her brains with a book about her favorite subject?
We've sifted through this year's notable releases and come up with a list of books we think are most likely to appeal to fashion-minded readers — plus a few favorites published before 2015 that are particularly relevant at the moment.
"The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History" by Robin Givhan
On Nov. 28, 1973, five of America's leading fashion designers — Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Halston, Anne Klein and Stephen Burrows — gathered at the Palace of Versailles to show their work against the crème de la crème of Paris fashion: Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Emanuel Ungaro and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior. Part competition, part society fundraiser, it is today considered a watershed moment in American fashion — a moment when American designers were finally recognized in Paris as a significant force. The Washington Post's Pulitzer-Prize winning fashion critic offers a fascinating account of what has come to be known as the "Battle of Versailles," but even more compelling is the portrait she draws of the American fashion industry in a period of tremendous economic, political and social transformation.
"Bare Blass" by Bill Blass and Cathy Horyn
Like "The Battle of Versailles," Bill Blass's memoir (which was co-authored by, and features an introduction from, current New York magazine fashion critic Cathy Horyn) offers an intimate look at the the birth of the ready-to-wear fashion industry in New York. Blass, who got his start sketching in the back rooms of the Garment District and went on to become one of the first household names in American fashion, was truly a pioneer, marrying the fashion and society worlds in a manner that continues to this day. This fall, his label was revived under the creative direction of Chris Benz, making this a particularly timely read, despite having been published in 2003.
"Ametora: How Japan Saved American Style" by W. David Marx
A book about Japan's appropriation of American style may seem like an esoteric choice, but W. David Marx's gem of a book is really more of a history of the past 150 years of Japanese menswear, and it's engagingly told. We'd recommend gifting it as a set with the 2010 reissue of "Take Ivy," a photographic tour of American Ivy League style first published in Japan in the mid-'60s.
"Dior by Dior: The Autobiography of Christian Dior" by Christian Dior
With the top creative post left vacant at Dior, now's an opportune time to dive into the house's history. Christian Dior's autobiography offers that, and so much more: It's a step-by-step look at the entire couture process, from the first quiet sketch, to the packed showing in the grand salon, to the unexpectedly competitive client fittings afterwards. Insiders will no doubt be amused by his tongue-in-cheek descriptions of how press and buyers were seated at his shows, and struck by his comments about balancing his public and private personas, still so relevant today. If you'd like to gift it with a coffee table-worthy tome, we'd recommend the recently published "Dior by Avedon."
"Art and Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons" by E.P. Cutler and Julien Tomasello
It takes a true fashion nerd to appreciate "Art + Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons," which highlights the famous creative interplay between Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali, Yves Saint Laurent and Piet Mondrian, and Raf Simons and Ruby Sterling, among many others. Large enough to qualify as a coffee table book, the reader will finish it with a deeper understanding of many of the designers they admire.