For the first piece in a new collaborative series, the experts at IDEA Books take their pick of the most influential titles ever published
In a new series, the team behind the inimitable IDEA Books – the shop at Dover Street Market dedicated to the rarest and most iconic art, fashion and design publications – look through their archive to select some of the most standout works. Today, they take their pick of the most influential fashion books ever created (and the best part is, you don’t need to scour eBay to get your hands on them: they’re all currently in stock). Check out the list below and follow IDEA on Instagram here.
STILE IN PROGRESS
Published by Italian Vogue in 1998 to celebrate 30 years of L’Uomo Vogue. IDEA say, “It is easily the single most sought after menswear book ever.” And it's no wonder, ’cause the book features loads of Bruce Weber, Paolo Roversi, Steven Klein, Deborah Turbeville, Steven Meisel and so on. Made up of sparse text and mostly images, kept from being chronological for the sake of art direction, some photographs span two pages crossing over the wire binding. Every page is a hero. According to IDEA,“If there was only one menswear book in the world – and this was it – that would be fine.”
Thanks to the Chelsea cut, IDEA describe this one as “the most amazing hairstyling book of all time.” Of course. Self-published by Alan Mead in 1988, it's a rare set of bound pages – each printed with hand-drawn tattoos, Fred Perry on Fred Perry, and straight-on passport pictures. A how-to on becoming a tight-laced lady of Oi! with, according to the book, ‘a certain kind of beauty with the look of hate.’
L'ABITO PER PENSARE
A bible detailing the first ten years of Gianni Versace's wearable dynamite. A thick 350 tribute to 80s fashion, both mens and womenswear, IDEA suspect “this book must be the world's most detailed visual record of studded knitwear, padded shoulders and deep pleated leather jackets.” And confirm that it is the single best fashion book ever.
LET IT ROCK, SEX, AND SEDITIONARIES
This book is so rare that its actual existence surprised IDEA. Put together by Jun Takahashi (designer of Undercover) and Hiroshi Fujiwara (designer, musician, importer of hip hop to Japan), each page holds a minimal photo of on item from their Vivienne Westwood X Malcolm McLaren (Let It Rock, Sex, and Seditionaries) collection. Their collection is huge. There are hundreds of pieces. This is pure documentation of the 'punk uniform' according to Westwood and McLaren. "Really, the book is nothing less than a revelation," says IDEA.
PAULA’S IBIZA 25 YEARS
This one document's Armin Heinmann's 1972 journey to Ibiza, and the opening of his boutique, Paula's Ibiza. Flamboyant, colourful, and easy living, Paula's is one hell of a print. According to IDEA, "Paula's was clearly so much more than a store or a label. It's like Karl Lagerfeld's Chloe, John Galliano's Dior, everything Voyage ever did, and the Harry Potter costume department rolled into one!"
If a good book was actually just as good as a holiday, this would be it. IDEA call it, “It is effortless, effervescent and genuinely refreshing!” Published by Love Me Tender (perfect!), Coconuts documents babes like Brooke Shields with perfect tans, swimming pools, pastel paint, an beaches. The airbrush detailing on the negative space around the photographs is a dream.
L’UOMO VOGUE, 1978 WOODY ALLEN COVER
This issue deals with t-shirts, and Woody Allen is on the front for “the best visual reference to t-shirt design in the world ever.” There are 40 pages holding 253 t-shirts. It's the best. Andy Warhol and his factory friends wear t-shirts. Divine and the cast of Neon Woman wear t-shirts. Everyone wears t-shirts. Certified “a vivid dream printed on paper,” by IDEA.
IDEA call this one “perhaps the purest, most perfect fashion photobook of the nineties.” Right! It’s the catalogue of an exhibition curated by Elein Fleiss (co-founder of Purple magazine), published in Japan by Hysteric Glamour in 1997. Featuring Parisian anti-fashion via Hélène Fillières (photographed by Mark Borthwick. And of course the inventor of the 1990's Chloe Sevingy. A huge symbol of Elein's strength, which is according to IDEA, “resisting the obvious and the commercial.”
HELLEN VAN MEENE
The first book by Hellen Van Meene, tiny but mighty, “just sixteen pages but perfect in every way possible,” confirm IDEA. The Photographers Gallery in London published this one in 1999. It is Hellen following teen girls and the way they feel. Simple portraits. Nothing invasive, just a way of connecting. It's surreal. We asked why photographers are so obsessed with youth, this book is why.
John Kacere painted lady's midsections and the underwear that hugged them, over and over again for 30 years. From IDEA: “If that doesn't just make your day / week / month you may have recently passed away!” For real! The artworks are photorealism and, honestly, each curve, fold and pucker is perfection. An incredible meditation.