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The Only Books to Give A Damn About in 2014

Merry Christmas to all, and especially to broke fashion students. The 25th not only marks a wonderful, blessed night, but is also a stark reminder that the year is coming to an end. I’ve bought plenty of books (and magazines) this year, with some still on their way, and these are the only three worth your cents. I confess, these are probably the most expensive. After some thought, I have decided not to reveal much of the content of the book in this post because it’ll screw your experience. Maybe I’ll decide to, though, in 2015.

Ann Demeulemeester — Ann Demeulemeester, Rizzoli

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The Belgian designer left her company this year, shocking many. She left us a parting gift in the form of a simple book archiving her collections. That’s it. Pages after pages of runway photographs printed on thin, beautiful black-edged paper chronicling the brand’s 30-year journey. That is all, apart from the brief introduction written by Patti Smith.

Humble, wholesome and not to mention weighty, it’s obvious that this print will become a bible to her die-hard fans — some who are still mourning the loss that is her departure from the fashion scene. And I guess the rest of us are, and we can only be fascinated with such a legacy. Perhaps one lacking information, revelation of her creative process, but perhaps that’s what makes it so fascinating. The woman has always been shrouded with a veil of mystery.

Then there are others who are not so familiar with the Demeulemeester name, one hard to pronounce and one that tends to shy away from the glitz and glamour of fashion. This publication serves as a great stepping stone to acquaint one’s self with one member of the Antwerp Six. Although, admittedly, it’s an expensive way to do it. Unless you’re a huge fan, or you’re actually looking for a more informative book, maybe you shouldn’t put your money here. If you’re the sort who buys books for aesthetics, get it, to put on your coffee or bedside table. It also makes a wonderful weapon to throw against unwanted guests — if you can handle all that weight in one hand.

I Just Arrived in Paris — Nicolas Ghesquiére and Juergen Teller, Steidlr

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2014 saw the much anticipated rebirth of Louis Vuitton. To say the least, the fashion world rejoiced when LVMH appointed long-time Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquiére to lead the house into the next chapter of its 150 year saga. It was the ultimate ‘fuck you!’ to Kering. Quickly, the friendship between Ghesquiere and German photographer Juergen Teller (also a friend and long-term collaborator of Louis Vuitton’s former designer, Marc Jacobs) blossomed and we soon saw the creative fruition of the new LV girl, immortalised by Freja Beha Erichsen who opened the show, fronted the Fall/Winter 2014-2015 ad campaign and starred in the Louis Vuitton art series.

This moment is eternalised by this packaged set, illustrated by M/M Paris. It’s not so much a book as it is an exclusive box of goodies that captures the moments leading up to Ghesquiére’s first women’s ready-to-wear collection at Louis Vuitton. It also documents some of the ideas sprouted after the debut (like the curated Series, a photography collaboration between Teller and photographers Annie Leibovitz and Bruce Weber). Aside from the 48-page hardcover book, you can find multiples of campaign prints, backstage photos and introductory letters from the designer and photographer.

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The story goes, as I remember it (the photos of reference have since been removed from M/M Paris’s Instagram, so this counts as a myth), that the two were simply texting each other. Midway, Teller got into his flight. Ghesquiére, unaware of this, asked him what they should call their project. Teller, not having checked his texts simply said “I just arrived in Paris,”  — et voila! A book was christened with its name! The tidbits are super nice and I guarantee you, you won’t be able to print images like this yourself, as a cheaper alternative. Did I also mention it’s technically illegal?

Yamamoto & Yohji — Wim Wenders, Jean Nouvel, Charlotte Rampling and Takeshi Kitano, Rizzoli

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Yohji fans will be delighted to receive an invitation to a showcasing of maestro’s world under a more vivid light, instead of the darkness he has become acquainted with. But more importantly, this book presents more of the company the man has built over forty years — and he has definitely not made it alone. That’s the thing, Yohji isn’t really a one man show, this quality serves as a magnet to some of the most brilliant visionaries in fashion.

The book is a visual feast of over 400 pages, with many previously unpublished content, but there’s also a lot of work devoted fans are familiar with. Work, but not necessarily just clothes, does all the talking. The narration requires, or rather, causes, time to stand still, and it is captivating to the last page even when it’s only glanced through. Coralie Gauthier, Yamamoto’s long-term PR, built most of the content with A Magazine founder, Paul Boudens, who designed the book. Art director Marc Ascoli, filmmaker Wim Wenders, Takeshi Kitano and photographer Paolo Roversi and Nick Knight are just the few names of contributors. There’s plenty of essays, runway footage, art direction and timelines.

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Even with so many books and films on the man, this book is the single most comprehensive peek at Yamamoto’s universe. One built on teamwork, trust, loyalty and vision. We are given stories of: the various figures that have walked and worked within the company, why certain songs were played at a certain show, how meticulously produced presentation collaterals are (they’re also as conceptual as Yamamoto’s fashion designs), and just how storefronts differ in merchandising and purpose but remain cohesive to its counterparts. Boudens’ editing has established and reinforced the company’s strong visual language, one that essentially captures the spirit of time. The Japanese taking of Paris, minimalism of the 90s, which saw the rush of new anti-supermodel girls, the change of format of look books — all documented in a single book through the multiple lens carefully achieving one synonymous story.

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It’s a shame that people forget to think of Yohji Yamamoto and his living, breathing empire, since he’s hugely marketed as a deeply philosophical, melancholic designer — which he is too. But in Yamamoto & Yohji, we aren’t being disappointed, as there is a significant marketing standpoint being offered, detailing some entrepreneurial decisions made by the company. While My Dear Bomb was an autobiography focused on a man who is overcoming the challenges of bankruptcy, dilemma and failure, Yamamoto & Yohji celebrates and revisits the result of successful collaborations, which in turn reveals an existential dialogue between Yamamoto, the work persona, and Yohji, the self. With this, it’s obvious that it’s almost impossible to separate the man from his work. This one is a must, obviously, because I wrote far more on it than the two others. Duh.

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