Winter is the perfect season to curl up with a good read and a cup of something warm, which makes Christmas a great time for gifting books. In that spirit of bookishness, we’ve collected some of our favorite stylish writings that will appeal to anyone on your list: history buffs, art lovers, non-readers, little one and dudes, too. Because if there are two things we all could benefit from, it’s some quiet time and some fashionable fun.
The Battle of Versailles by Robin Givhan
The Washington Post critic chronicles the impact, gossip and glamour of one of the most legendary nights in fashion history. In 1973, the Palace of Versailles needed a renovation so urgent and expensive that the French government couldn’t afford the $60 million estimate. To raise money, 10 designers—five from France (Yves Saint Laurent, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, Marc Bohan and Emanuel Ungaro) and five from the United States (Halston, Oscar de la Renta, Anne Klein, Bill Blass and Stephen Burrows)—held a runway showdown that pitted French couture against America’s ascending ready-to-wear collections. Ultimately, the celebrity-studded night introduced diversity (African American models owned the U.S. catwalks) and levity (Liza Minnelli and Broadway dancers performed for the American troupe) to the once rigid high-fashion show. Givhan’s entertaining read helps put it all into a timely historical perspective.
Copenhagen Style Guide by Anna Peuckert & Søren Jepsen
Paris and Milan may be Europe’s fashion capitals, but Denmark’s major metropolis has been making a name for itself as a world-class style city. Fashionable travelers will delight in this quaint, densely packed photographic guide that explores Copenhagen’s most charming shops, restaurants and hotels. Even if a trip isn’t imminent, this introduction to the city’s cozy aesthetic perfectly captures why its fashion, design and lifestyle have gained global attention. From interviews with local furniture designers and peeks into fashion ateliers and premiere ceramic stores to boutique hotel recommendations, this little book offers a primer on Copenhagen’s subtle, comfortable allure.
Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes by Cristina Carrillo de Albornoz
An alphabetical chronicle of Blahnik’s varied creative influences, this vivid volume (the accompanying book to the traveling museum exhibit) delves into the soul of the man behind the world’s most coveted shoes. For 45 years, Blahnik has advanced some of the most innovative and iconic footwear designs, creating artistic iterations of the most basic accessory. Throughout Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes, hundreds of stunning photos appear alongside the designer’s original sketches, to the delight of art and footwear lovers. Blahnik’s personal anecdotes about luminaries like Diana Vreeland, Anna Piaggi and Loulou de la Falaise help situate the designer in fashion history. Second to the central theme of his craft and career is the intimacy with which Blahnik focused on his footwear obsession.
Paris Fashion by Valerie Steele
Suzy Menkes has called her the “Freud of fashion.” As the director and chief curator of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Valerie Steele is a preeminent authority on la mode, past, present and future. In this history, she examines how the City of Light became and remained an international style center. Tracing fashionable influences in the region back to 15th-century Burgundian black, through Baudelaire’s poetic dandyism to Coco Chanel’s “deluxe poverty” and the ’80s excess of Christian LaCroix, Steele’s research shows that Paris’s relationship to fashion is as much the history of thought, worn openly (even ostentatiously) on the city’s famed boulevards.
Icons of Men’s Style by Josh Sims
Style icons transcend gender. When an actor appears on screen in a plain white T-shirt, when a movie hero flashes a dive watch, when a rock star dons a Panama hat, men pay attention—even if some pretend not to—and so do women. This slim book traces the history of men’s wardrobe staples (the shoes, underwear, jeans, jackets), their origins and the famous gents who wore them most memorably (Michael Jackson’s penny loafers, Andy Warhol’s motorcycle jacket, Tom Cruise’s aviator shades). Sims’s style digest introduces readers to the heritage brands that created the classic fashions that reside—or should reside—in most of our closets today, and their impact on the daily act of getting dressed.
PaperMade™ Paper Fashion Style Icon Paper Doll Book by Daniel Stark, Maria Tabet and Jieun Youn
Have a recipient who isn’t much of a reader? There’s a fashion book for them too! Give them a (brief) education on the 20 most influential style idols in the world today, along with a crafty activity to keep them busy. These pop-out-and-fold figurines are adorable and displayable. So once your niece or granny pieces together Rei Kawakubo and reads all about her lasting impact on avant-garde fashion, she can perch the laconic icon on her nightstand.
This Bearded Life by Carles Suñé and Alfonso Casas
Both a fashion accessory and a lifestyle statement, the immortal beard marks its wearer as…manly? messy? distinguished? Claus? Although its reception can vary, there’s no questioning that facial fuzz is having a moment—maybe its strongest since the invention of the razor. Bestow your bearded beloved with this encyclopedic book about his chin sweater. From maintenance tips to various beard styles throughout history and tidbits on his fellow hairy icons, this charmingly illustrated manual will give him more reasons to love his stubble.
Books to Bed
Tuck in your tykes with a classic story and some cozy cotton PJs to match. You’ll send girls and boys off to bed with visions of dragons, robots, princesses or Old Saint Nick dancing in their heads. These beloved books will linger with them even longer when they get to wear their stories to sleep, fostering fond memories of reading to relax.