As far as my priorities are concerned, paying for, say, a downpayment for my own flat would rank way above buying a couture dress or coat, but I have always loved couture techniques and the fantasies spun from them. The happy bridge between my interest and reality comes in the form of beautifully-photographed fashion books, and I am always on the look-out for a good one - something's that's more than just pictures of pretty dresses, or a catalogue.

I like the ones that share the couturier's inspiration and influences, and frame the creations in a context. In other words, it's as close as a guided tour of the archives as I can get.

It doesn't even have to be by a designer I love. I'm a passing admirer of Kenzo and don't know much about his work, but the book by Antonio Marras released last year was brilliant - it felt alive, and immersed me into the world of Kenzo and it's a gorgeous, enriching read.


I couldn't go to "Balenciaga and Spain", so "Balenciaga and Spain" came to me. Sort of. I ordered this book as part of my birthday cache (yeah we're STILL talking about my birthday) and I wasn't disappointed. I've always been interested in Balenciaga (past and present) and I've long been curious about Balenciaga's Spanish roots (all that Infanta gowns), and this just wraps it all up for me. Plus, Hamish Bowles! Love his elegant writing, and his enthusiasm and breadth of knowledge of couture is to be treasured.


I also ordered something to add to my collection of Irving Penn books - "Still Life". Being introduced to his work was the greatest gift US Vogue gave me.

And I have been lusting after "Lee Friedlander: Photographs Frederick Law Olmsted Landscapes - after I read this feature in The New York Times. Lee Friedlander's work has always fed my romanticised view of America (my first book was "America by Car") but the parks in this series was a dreamscape on a whole new level. I can look at all these pictures for hours.

It was a very indulgent order but like the Peter Lindbergh book I bought earlier this year, I feel that these images represent an aesthetic that's being replaced, and I want to hold on to some of them. There's a rawness to them even though they're done with a perfectionist's eye. When I read fashion magazines these days, I rarely relate to the hyper-stylised, hyper-saturated images. I'm not asking for photography to all look this way (even Peter Lindbergh moved on, his new work looks very different), but I wish I saw such styles more.

(Next on my list: Annie Leibovitz's "American Music", maybe something by Stieglitz, and Koto Bolofo's "La Maison").

By the way, I've been drowning in work - it's the Presidential Elections in Singapore, so lots of activity to cover. Nothing like the General Elections though...the President of Singapore doesn't have much executive powers. Nonetheless, there hasn't been much time to blog, but that should change soon!


Ammu said…
Oh my, I think I may have to buy the Balenciaga book - it looks stunning.
Catherine said…
wow, you have amazing taste! i can't wait to have my own place so i can have a proper book shelf and buy beautiful books.
MarĂ­a said…
I can't wait to see the new Balenciaga museum opened in his hometown -Getaria- just a couple of months ago. It's five hours away by car, but totally worth it.
lin said…
Ammu: It's terrific, I opened it and started reading all the essays in it right away - it's informative but not too heavy going. I would have liked to see more pieces of clothing photographed up close - a lot of it is house photos of their shows and editorials - but it's still a very beautiful visual representation of his work.

(I've been using The Book Depository - ordered books three times now and no problems, and shipping is free!)

Catherine: I would love to design my own book spaces from scratch as well, but I'm not waiting for that to happen to start collecting books :)

Maria: There was a lot of reference to his hometown in the book, I'm quite curious actually. Do let me know if you ever get down to make that five-hour journey...
miss sophie said…
so beautiful! it's a very sensual experience, flipping through the glossy, thick pages and that faint 'new book' smell. if i had more space and less of a phobia of the hassles of moving with heavy books, i'd definitely have more fashion books in my collection too!

this reminds me...perhaps it's time to do a purge of books in my collection to make some room...
Alexandra said…
Lovely post, the Balenciaga book looks amazing. I too collect fashion books. Have you read A Dedicated Follower of Fashion by Holly Brubach? It's a collection of essays, not much visual content but it's truly brilliant.

Lindsay K said…
I'm so glad you purchased "Balenciaga and Spain." The exhibit was phenomenal and the book is a really great read. I have been reading and re-reading this book since the exhibit closed. Collecting and displaying fashion and art books is one of my biggest weaknesses.

I agree with you about Hamish Bowles- his passion really shines through in his writing. I attended his lecture on the Balenciaga exhibit and a lecture he did on Penn's work and he was amazing.

Happy reading!
lin said…
miss sophie: Glad I don't have that fear to hold me back. These books are pretty expensive here, so I used to buy them on holidays and LUG them home, cursing to myself. Good thing I found a few sites that stock them for a much better price, and ship cheaply or for free!

Alexandra: It's a jewel of a book. I've heard of "A Dedicated Follower", keep meaning to pick it up... now that you've recommended it I definitely will.

Lindsay K: Lucky you, I would loved to attend those lectures. Irving Penn is hands-down one of my favourite photographers, I'm still looking for a good retrospective of his fashion work.

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