Insiders, Outsiders, and Artists

Knowing I’m not great at the annual holiday column, my editor at the Globe Style Advisor cut me a break for December 2016 and assigned me to select a few of the best new coffee table books to make a simple gift guide. This was right after New York Fashion Week, and I was still in New York, so I could go and visit the publishers in person. The press relations staff were so nice to me that I found myself a bit overwhelmed by emotion. Going to fashion week had become an endless round of humiliations, so I had forgotten that the job of publicists was to be nice to people – and I had even forgotten that I was technically a legitimate member of the press and should expect kind treatment!

The resulting column is no great work of art itself, but it allowed me to indulge in my favourite pastime of looking through beautiful books and these choices remain personal favourites – especially the book about Muhammad Ali which I ended up buying for myself and often look at when I need to gather my courage.

To give a lavish book of images to the aesthetes in your life is to show them you know them. I’ve made a selection of this season’s most exciting new releases to indulge the eyes and warm the hearts of your most stylish loved ones – whether they’re cosmopolitan insiders, resolute outsiders, or born to be artists.

The insider’s eye.

Pearl Necklace

Fendi: 90 Years

If you’re going to go all out on the very best paper stock, printing ink, and binding, examine subjects that deserve the royal treatment. Assouline offers two luxurious volumes that are the next best thing to actually holding precious treasure. Pearl Necklace is the most glistening book about pearls that could possibly exist. And Fendi: 90 Years depicts fur in such luscious depth it seems like your fingers could sink into the page.

The outsider’s eye

The Importants
Kevin Amato

Oh So Pretty – Punk in Print
The Mott Collection

Kevin Amato is a street caster – his job is finding diverse, authentic models in the ungentrified Bronx for avant garde fashion designers like Shayne Oliver of Hood by Air.  As a photographer, he depicts tough kids with real tenderness, offering an exquisite, intimate glimpse into fashion’s next generation.

The pages of Oh So Pretty are that cheap, lightweight newsprint with that slightly sour smell, making this comprehensive reproduction of Tony Mott’s incredible collection of London punk ephemera from 1976 – 1979 both accessible and punk as fuck. There simply isn’t a more visceral, complete time capsule of that brief cultural moment.

The artist’s eye

Billy Name: The Silver Age
Reel Art Press

Mohammad Ali: Fighter’s Heaven 1974
Peter Angelo Simon
Reel Art Press

This year we lost many of our finest artistic heroes, and Reel Art Press offers two excellent tributes.

The man responsible for making Warhol’s Factory silver, Billy Name, is remembered in a substantial volume featuring many of his photographs. A particularly sensitive, reclusive visionary, Name’s presence is rarely given the credit his influence deserves – it’s poignant that this book was released just before his death.

In Fighter’s Heaven, Muhammad Ali is depicted preparing for the fight that would secure his legend. Offering spectacularly generous access to a training process that any athlete or artist would instantly recognize and relate to, this volume is inspiration incarnate.