When it comes to photographic fashion bibles, few have been as influential to modern clothes-making as Take Ivy, the Japanese photo book that immortalized the glory days of 1960s collegiate prep. Circulating for years as an expensive out-of-print title, Take Ivy was so coveted by stylists, artists, designers, and fashion followers that publishers reissued it in 2010. But it's not the only volume you should add to your library. Here's a list of the best books, some of them quite rare, that you should hunt down to give your coffee table (and your fashion sense) an extra-stylish touch.
- Jocks & Nerds: Men's Style in the Twentieth Century by Richard Martin and Harold Korda
Titled after two of the 12 "male identities" for the 20th century (which also include Worker, Rebel, and Dandy), this book uses fashion-magazine spreads, movie and publicity stills, and candid photographs of celebrities to illustrate each indelible archetype.
- Brooklyn Gang by Bruce Davidson
Barely older than the teens he photographed, Bruce Davidson created this gritty photodocumentary of rough teenage Brooklyn gangs in the fifties features fashion in its rawest state and represents a look, an attitude, that appears startlingly contemporary despite its mid-20th-century vintage.
- Bruce Weber (1983) by Bruce Weber
Legendary photographer and connoisseur of the male form Bruce Weber balances clean and natural style with unbearable sexiness in his self-titled book that features his athlete-turned-model muse, Jeff Aquilon, and a very young Matt Dillon, just to name a few.
- Looking Good: A Guide for Men by Charles Hix
While some of the styles might be dated (very, very dated), this book is chock-a-block with timeless advice and suggestions for developing exceptional grooming habits.
- Shots of Style: Great Fashion Photographs Chosen by David Bailey
Using his keen eye for classic simplicity, celebrated Vogue photographer David Bailey compiled more than 150 photos taken by fellow legends, including MoMA's Edward Steichen, street photographer Louis Faurer, and Diane Arbus
- Disfarmer: The Heber Springs Portraits, 1939-1946 by Julia Scully and Peter Miller
Curmudgeon Mike Disfarmer used the simple townsfolk of Heber Springs, Arkansas, as his canvas for recording, without any pretentious staging, life during wartime in small-town America and capturing antique styles that, thanks to current trends, seem sharply modern.
- O Rio de Janeiro by Bruce Weber
Set in the sensual social scene of Brazil's great metropolis, Weber's intimate photo essay casually mixes montages of stylish, often naked beautiful people with equally stunning landscapes and still lifes.
- Horst: 60 Years of Photography by Martin Kazmaier
Bursting with photos of luminaries like Coco Chanel, Truman Capote, Katherine Hepburn, and Andy Warhol, this book spans the lengthy career of legendary Vogue fashion photographer Horst P. Horst, whose kitschy fashion ads are balanced with revealing still lifes and portraits.
- Cameraworks by David Hockney
More famous as a painter, Hockney emphasizes the importance of presentation by making everyday photos of people, interiors, and nature absolutely spellbinding through his trademark photocollage technique.
- The Allure of Men by Francois Baudot
If you go back two hundred years or more, courtly men were at least as colorful and curious in dress as their female counterparts. Since then, it is the rare dandy who truly enjoys the full possibilities of fashion and, here, Baudot both celebrates them and asks the reader to pick up his sartorial game.
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