Gift ideas: Top 3 fashion books for the holiday season

December 18, 2018

In our third annual Christmas Fashion books review, we have picked three fashion publications that were released in 2018. They are very different in their presentation and substance: from a small-sized book to a substantial tome, from a coffee table picture book to a deep exploration of the theme, written by journalists and scholars. Still, they all have one thing in common: they would make wonderful and appreciated gifts for any fashion lover on your list.

Leopard: Fashion’s Most Powerful Print, written by Hilary Alexander

One of the most recognized fashion critics and award-winning journalists, Hilary Alexander wrote her first book about this season’s most widespread trend—the leopard print. Notably, it features a foreword by Donatella Versace.


The book presents a beautiful collection of photographs of all things leopard. It is broken down into chapters that explore themes, like Wild Warrior, Leopard Royalty, Hollywood, Diva Skin, Catwalk and more. With imagery of classical portraiture to movie stills, vintage magazine covers and latest runway models, the book encompasses all applications and aspirational values of the print.

The leopard print is not just a trend in 2018 but, as the book depicts, it has been around for centuries. However, Leopard is more of a photo book rather than a history or exploration of the print. Even though one can enjoy delightful images from ancient Egyptian times up to the latest Tom Ford’s fall/winter 2018 show, don’t expect to read about neither the social nor historical development of the print, difference between cheetah, leopard or jaguar print, or how the print came into fashion. You can, however, expect beautiful photographs and famous quotes.

The book is still a wonderful celebration of all things leopard, including accessories and home interiors. With its leopard printed dustcover, it would make a beautiful addition to any bookshelf or the top of a stack of coffee-table books.


Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, edited by Claire Wilcox and Circe Henestrosa

For the first time since opening The Museum of Frida Kahlo in Casa Azul, where the artist has lived and died in Mexico City, her personal belongings, including her distinctive outfits travelled outside her native country, to England. In 2018, the Victoria & Albert Museum organized an exhibition Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, which was based on the show from Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving. Notably, early next year, this exhibition will travel to Brooklyn Museum.

Published to accompany the exhibition of the same name, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is an excellent book that satisfies both curious minds and those who enjoy beautiful images. Composed of academic articles and hundreds of illustrations, the book doesn’t only talk about Kahlo’s outfits, but also explores the cultural artistic landscape of Mexico, in which Frida Kahlo’s art emerged. Here, contributors write about Kahlo’s paintings and her choices of outfits as a language of conveying her artistic messages, her identity, political views, sexuality, as well as concealing her physical imperfections and pain.

Taking into consideration the influence of Frida Kahlo on the fashion industry, contributor Oriana Baddeley mentions that with Frida-mania, the artist’s image is very easily becoming cartoon-ish, but it is important to remember and realize all the “intelligent underpinning” that went into creation of Frida’s image.

Her paintings, as well as hundreds of photographs and costumes, and personal items, make it evident that one of the greatest masterpieces of Frida was she herself.


Dior by Roger Vivier, written by Elizabeth Semmelhack, photographed by Gérard Uféras

Right in time for Christmas holidays, Rizzoli has published a gorgeous book that celebrates artistic achievements of a shoemaker Roger Vivier during his work at the House of Dior. Written by Elizabeth Semmelhack, the Senior Curator of Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, and photographed by Gérard Uféras, the book explores a creative genius of an iconic shoemaker.


This is a substantial volume, that consists of over 300 glossy images of beyond gorgeous shoes. In the introductory chapter, the author provides the reader with a context of the artistic partnership between Roger Vivier and Christian Dior and later, Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Bohan. The shoes, photographed for the book, span from the early 1950s to early 1960s.

Despite its historical time frame, some of the items look incredibly timeless and could pass for either antique shoes of the 18th century or modern creations of contemporary shoe designers of the 21st century. This emphasizes the creative genius of Roger Vivier. Insightful comments discover the influences and effects of the creations of the acclaimed shoemaker.


Stunning photographs of the exceptionally luxurious shoes evoke emotions and make a reader want to touch these shoes or wear them. They trigger reader’s imagination of how they would move in real life and what effect they would have provoked. Even today, these shoes would be total show-stoppers.


Feature image from Leopard: Fashion’s Most Powerful Print, Laurence King Publishing.

By Darina Granik
Photography by / courtesy of each publishing house

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