It’s been a while since we’ve featured our Noteworthy category. Most of the subjects we write about usually warrant an entire article, but today we’d like to briefly share a trio of starkly different books provided by Abrams Publishing that are certainly noteworthy.
Fabrics A to Z
Here at the Gentleman’s Gazette, and I’m sure for our readers as well, fabric is a daily subject of fascination, interest, and appreciation. It forms the foundation of the ties, jackets, pocket squares, trousers, and socks that we so often feature. Fabric is easily considered when it is already in its finished form, whether it is a finished garment or an accessory, but sometimes it’s useful to take a step back and look at fabric independently. The book Fabrics A to Z, by Dana Willard, will help you do exactly that. While it might initially seem awkward that the book is framed as a guide for sewing, this perspective is ideal for those interested in clothing in general. Even if you never sew yourself, learning about how fabric is woven, selected, sewn, and cared for under a variety of conditions will help you make better informed decisions when purchasing fabric-based apparel. In fact, such a book may even inspire you to seek out fabrics previously unknown to you. At the very least, it will serve as an excellent portable reference that more than one member of your household might find useful.
In terms of content, the book is split into two sections: Selecting Fabrics and Notions & Tools. For the non-sewer, the first section is by far the most useful. Willard covers the range of woven, knit, specialty, blended, and patterned fabrics available on the market today. For the purposes of classic men’s clothing, the woven natural fabrics section (as opposed to manufactured fabrics) was the most interesting, and I enjoyed how the close photography reveals the weave and texture of each fabric. In the back, there was also a handy section that shows the details of many patterns commonly used in men’s clothing. Fabrics A to Z is currently priced for less than $17 on Amazon.
In a single word, an explosion of images and ideas come to mind – gold leaf, opulence, power, theatricality, and death. To anyone who has studied the history of Europe, Versailles may be the most notorious palace ever built by royalty, and its legacy is still known far and wide. Château de Versailles is the topic of this remarkable square coffee table book, and in keeping with the subject’s style, it is covered in – what else – gold trim. Prefaced by the director of Versailles and authored by Valérie Bajou-Charpentreau, the book covers everything from the purchase of the land by Louis XIII, the history of the building, to the gardens and the famous Trianon. While the text provides some detail, the book is really oriented around photography. With so many historians on staff, Versailles is extremely well studied and documented, and this book compiles thousands of photographs, drawings, paintings, and exquisite details of the Château that could only come from a painstakingly compiled archive. The only downside appears to be the age of some of the photos; many shots are not crisp, and the colors are often muted.
Given that most visitors struggle to see the massive palace and grounds during a single visit, this book is a perfect way to enjoy the overwhelming detail and depth of the Château more fully over time. An absolute attention grabber, the book is a marvelous time capsule that will astound you each time you pick it up. Versailles is available on Amazon from third parties for $26 but otherwise it is already out of stock..
Paul Smith A to Z: Paul Smith in Conversation with Olivier Wicker
A to Z seems to be a theme over at Abrams Publishing. Even so, this mid-size book is nothing like the previous one, since it is actually organized around the A to Z theme. Paul Smith, despite his common name, is about as famous as they come. Known for three decades as a British menswear fashion mogul and icon, he was knighted five years ago by the Queen. He is known for his humility equally as he is known for his eccentricity – but above all, he is a serious force in the fashion world. If you’re looking for a Paul Smith biography, this book is not for you; it is much rather his personal story in pictures: “who he is, where he comes from, and what makes him tick.” Interestingly, some letters have more than one association; for example, “P” is for Paris, his friend Martin Parr, his wife Pauline, photography, politics, Post-It, and price. Each subject is accompanied by a small paragraph describing why it is meaningful to Mr. Smith. Flipping through the pages, the book feels like a massive personal collage filled with textures, emotions, inspirations, and contexts. His words are honest, revealing, and even though they are limited in number, by the end of the book it is much clearer to the reader who Mr. Smith is as a person. If anything, the lesson of his name and this book is that you are what you make of your opportunities.
For a men’s fashion enthusiast interested in a more personal perspective of Paul Smith, this book will be an artful addition to your style library. It is currently available for $22.
For a selection of 100 men’s clothing books, click here.