14 August 2017

Blame It On The Benjamins: Books

For the first instalment of a new series that I've aptly titled Blame It On The Benjamins, I've listed the five mighty tomes that I wouldn't hesitate to purchase if money was no object. Literally every book in my list served as accompaniment to an exhibition of the same name and for that reason, they're largely image-based with very little text. Whilst PDFs aplenty do the rounds of torrent pages and tumblr alike, there's nothing quite like the tangible real deal to pick up, peer through, put down and come back to at your choosing. Painfully limited printing runs have catapulted these books – and other niche fashion publications of a similar nature – into a new dimension of rarity, one which magnetises a price tag that's as weighty as the book itself. Better look out that library card.

1.
by Raf Simons and Francesco Bonami, £345.66
what it's about: Dissecting the sexual and demographic identities of subcultural teenage tribes (as of 2003), The Fourth Sex marries images of fashion, art, music, cinema and politics with an anthology of writings that mix poetry, literature, journalism and research. 
why i'd buy it: Tapping into the complex universe of contemporary culture, the book's focus on adolescence doesn't simply stop at young people, it unpicks the relationship between young people and the adult world by looking at the positive energies as well as the insecurities of this age group and the extreme gestures that can result from these fears.


2.
by Hedi Slimane, £1,500
what it's about: Gathering over 200 images for the book, Hedi Slimane and his ocular narration of events expose a visual treasure trove of musical archives. Stretching across London and New York, the unfaltering focus is on the Belgian's new found home of California. Composed studio portraits of Lou Reed, Keith Richards and Chuck Berry are presented alongside riotous mid-performance images of Pete Doherty, Alex Turner (in the early days) and Amy Winehouse.
why i'd buy it: The contrastive nature of the book as a whole is what makes it all the more interesting. From the fact that every image is shot in black and white, to the mix of bona fied music legends with up-and-comers who hadn't broken out of the underground scene – not to mention the balance of the serene portraits with the grit of the live show shots and the conscious decision to take the spotlight away from the stage and instead, shine it on the enigmatic fans in the crowds.
3.
by Martin Margiela, £725
what it's about: This is the catalogue for what was the first solo exhibition by Maison Martin Margiela – which had been in business for 9 years, 4 days, and 1615 hours at the time of the exhibition, hence the title – and was held at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam in 1997.
why i'd buy it: The book dedicates one of its three chapters to a collaboration with Dutch Microbiologist Dr. A.W.S.M van Egeraat, in which outfits were treated with different strains of bacteria, yeast, and mould. The findings are documented to reveal which of the strains progressively altered the colour and texture of garments. Let's be serious, the collision of science and fashion in general is probably as rare as the book is.

   

4.
by Lionel Bovier, £872.99
what it's about: Some 845 colour (yes colour, Hedi Slimane can in fact shoot in colour) photographs are compiled for the publication that combines a decade's worth of imagery into four volumes: FR, UK, RU and US. The four volumes reveal Slimane's duotone photographs mixing the music scene, street fashion, and his haute couture shows, are as fresh as his paradigm-shifting work in fashion.
why i'd buy it: As a singular body of work, Anthology of a Decade documents Slimane's early years in the fashion industry, before, during and after his tenures at Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, laying bare the references that inspired him and evidencing his attention to both youth culture and more historical groundings in photography. There's little difference in the stylings of his photographs before and after his chunk of time in fashion and there's something really, rather refreshing about that.

5.
by Pamela Golbin, £1,369.53
what it's about: This is the accompanying catalog to the 2015 "Dries Van Noten-Inspirations" exhibit at the Louvre's Les Artes Decortifs museum. Van Noten explained and exhibited the things that he positively manipulated as inspiration, from fashion and flowers, to the work of Richter and the alluring aromas of India.
why i'd buy it: Over fifty seasons of fashion are included in the book so it covers a plethora of themes, simultaneously showing the range and diversity in his references and the resulting collections. It's a peek inside the designer's mind – from concept to construction – and serves as a detailed timescale of the ideological evolution of Dries Van Noten.