Best Andrew Bolton books

Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology

Andrew Bolton

Best price for this book: $ 30

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A stunning look at the paradoxical relationship between the artisanal and the technological in fashion

The complex and often ambiguous relationship between the hand crafted and the machine made is examined in this intriguing look at the ever-changing world of fashion and taste. Manus x Machina traces styles of dress from one-of-a-kind works and haute couture created by highly skilled artisans, through the introduction of industrial manufacturing, to extraordinary recent technological advancements applied to high fashion, such as 3D printing, laser cutting, and computer-generated weaving and patterns.  The oppositional relationship between the machine, as representative of democracy and mass production, and the hand, as the hallmark of elitism, is explored in its many facets in this fascinating book.
 
Paradoxically, technology in fashion has both advanced artistic creation and obscured the sense of the designer’s expert hand. Similarly, handmade garments have come to represent either a nostalgia for lost craftsmanship or, in haute couture, a cult of personality and affluence. Interviews with renowned and cutting-edge designers such as Sarah Burton, Karl Lagerfeld, and Miuccia Prada discuss how technology can blur the line between haute couture and prêt-à-porter, and ultimately question the relevance of the distinction between hand and machine. 

A tour de force in art book production, Manus x Machina incorporates two volumes into its innovative package. The main volume of the book includes a smaller hand-sewn booklet, which features the printed interviews, tucked into the back jacket flap. The outer cover of the main volume is made of three-ply plastic layers with high-frequency weld and die-cut flaps. The paperback cover is die cut (modelled on the punch cards used in the first automated weaving looms), and the main volume includes 5 different paper stocks and silver foil stamping, and is printed with both high-density and ultraviolet inks. The book also features new photography of extraordinary pieces, including intricate 19th-century floral designs by William Morris, handcrafted haute couture of designers such as Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen, and the specatuclar 3D creations of Iris van Herpen.  

Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between

Andrew Bolton

Best price for this book: $ 32.85

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A revelatory look at the influential and enigmatic designer behind Comme des Garçons

The great pantheon of fashion designers produces only a handful of creators who are masters of their métier. Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons is one of them. Widely recognized among her contemporaries as the most important and influential designer of the past forty years, she has, since her Paris debut in 1981, defined and transformed the aesthetics of our time. This lavishly illustrated publication examines Kawakubo’s fascination with interstitiality, or the space between boundaries. Existing within and between dualities—whether self/other, object/subject, art/fashion—Kawakubo’s work challenges the rigid divisions that have come to define received notions of identity and fashionability, inviting us to rethink fashion as a site of constant creation, re-creation, and, ultimately, hybridity. Featuring brilliant new photography, and thought-provoking texts by Andrew Bolton, this book expresses the conceptual and challenging aesthetic of this visionary designer. An insightful interview and illustrated chronology of Kawakubo’s career provide additional context.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Andrew Bolton

Best price for this book: $ 29.99

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Arguably the most influential, imaginative, and provocative designer of his generation, Alexander McQueen both challenged and expanded fashion conventions to express ideas about race, class, sexuality, religion, and the environment.


Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty examines the full breadth of the designer’s career, from the start of his fledgling label to the triumphs of his own world-renowned London house. It features his most iconic and radical designs, revealing how McQueen adapted and combined the fundamentals of Savile Row tailoring, the specialized techniques of haute couture, and technological innovation to achieve his distinctive aesthetic. It also focuses on the highly sophisticated narrative structures underpinning his collections and extravagant runway presentations, with their echoes of avant-garde installation and performance art.

 

Published to coincide with an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art organized by The Costume Institute, this stunning book includes a preface by Andrew Bolton; an introduction by Susannah Frankel; an interview by Tim Blanks with Sarah Burton, creative director of the house of Alexander McQueen; illuminating quotes from the designer himself; provocative and captivating new photography by renowned photographer Sølve Sundsbø; and a lenticular cover by Gary James McQueen.

 

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty celebrates the astounding creativity and originality of a designer who relentlessly questioned and confronted the requisites of fashion.

 

 

China: Through the Looking Glass

Andrew Bolton

Best price for this book: $ 44.99

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A lavish exploration of the evocative and complex fashions inspired by Chinese culture

For centuries, China’s export arts—jade, silks, porcelains, and, more recently, cinema—have fueled Western fantasies of an exotic East and served as enduring sources of inspiration for fashion. This stunning publication, which accompanied one of the most successful exhibitions in The Metropolitan Museum of Art's history, explores the influence of Chinese aesthetics on designers, including Giorgio Armani, Christian Dior, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent. Drawing upon Chinese decorative arts, cinema, and costume—notably imperial court robes, the close-fitting cheongsam, and the unisex Mao suit—their designs are fantastical pastiches of anachronistic motifs. As in the game of “telephone,” the process of cultural translation transforms the source material into ingeniously original fashions that are products solely of the designers’ imaginations.
 
In a similar way, contemporary Chinese film directors render fanciful, highly stylized evocations of various epochs in China’s history—demonstrating that China’s imagery is equally seductive to artists in the East and further inspiring today’s designers. Juxtaposing modern fashions and film stills with their forebears in fine and decorative arts and historical dress, this book reveals the rich and ongoing creative dialogue between East and West, past and present.

Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations (Metropolitan Museum, New York: Exhibition Catalogues)

Harold Koda

Best price for this book: $ 10.98

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Although separated by time, Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli—both Italian, both feminists—share striking affinities in terms of their design strategies and fashion manifestoes. Presented as an intimate "conversation," Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations aims to tease out formal and conceptual similarities between the two designers. Striking photographs and insightful texts illustrate the parallels between the two, including their preferences for interesting textiles and prints, eccentric color palettes, and a bold and playful approach to styling and accessories.

Schiaparelli, in the 1920s through 50s, and Prada, from the late 1980s to today, exploited the narrative possibilities of prints, sought out unconventional textiles, played with ideas of good and bad taste, and manipulated scale for surrealistic outcomes. Contemporary art plays a major role in the work of these inventive women—Schiaparelli in her famous collaborations with Dali and Cocteau, and Prada via her Fondazione Prada. Blending the historic with the contemporary, the catalogue brings the masterworks of both designers together into a grand conversation between the most important women fashion designers to ever emerge from Italy.

Chanel (Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications)

Harold Koda

Best price for this book: $ 64.91

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This splendid book examines the legacy of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, one of the twentieth century's great icons of style. While Chanel mythologized her glamorous life through relentless self-invention, the bare facts of her biography are no less worthy than her legend: born of a poor family in the provinces and raised in a convent, she was an entertainer and the mistress of men of impeccable social standing, and she began her career not as a dressmaker but as a milliner.
Chanel's enduring influence is necessarily based on the long shadow cast over fashion by her maison couture. Chanel examines the history of the House of Chanel both thematically and chronologically, introducing ideas and elements of biography as they were expressed in her collections. Period examples are juxtaposed with the work of Karl Lagerfeld, who, beginning in 1983, just over ten years after Chanel's death, reinvented and revolutionized the House's identity. It is in Lagerfeld's masterful and often irreverent interpretations of Chanel's work, as well as his mixing of influences from high and low culture, that the historic importance of Chanel and the resonance of her image as the independent, elegant modern woman are both defined and reasserted for the contemporary world.

Poiret (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Harold Koda

Best price for this book: $ 18.62

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In the annals of fashion history, French couturier Paul Poiret (1879–1944) is known for liberating women from corsets and introducing pantaloons into their wardrobes.  However, it is Poiret’s remarkable innovations in the cut and construction of clothing, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he could not sew, that secures his legacy.
This essential book is the first to explore Poiret’s radical modernity from a number of perspectives. Essays by renowned scholars describe the historical context of his work; its relation to the dominant artistic discourses of the early 20th century; his muse, Denise Poiret, and her influence on his work; and his role in the paradigmatic shift to a new ideal of feminine beauty. Poiret’s entrepreneurship, his creation of an atelier to extend his influence beyond fashion to the art de vivre, and his relationship to the workshops of the Wiener Werkstatte are also discussed.
Poiret’s innovative creations are represented by colorful pochoirs (stencils), personal photographs from the Poiret family archives, and newly commissioned photographs of Poiret’s masterworks.

Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination

Andrew Bolton

Best price for this book: $ 65

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A brilliant exploration of fashion’s complex engagement with the great art and artifacts of Catholic faith and practice

Since antiquity, religious beliefs and practices have inspired many of the masterworks of art. These works of art have, in turn, fueled the imagination of fashion designers in the 20th and 21st centuries, yielding some of the most innovative creations in costume history. Connecting significant religious art and artifacts to their sartorial expressions, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination provides a critical analysis of fashion’s engagement with notions of the divine. Exploring fashion’s complex and often controversial relationship with Catholicism, Heavenly Bodies probes what dress reveals about the state of religion and spirituality within contemporary culture, and how it may manifest—or subvert—Catholic values and ideology. Art objects, such as devotional paintings and altarpieces from The Met’s collection, are presented alongside fashions from designers including Cristóbal Balenciaga, Callot Soeurs, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, John Galliano, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Madame Grès, Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld, Jeanne Lanvin, Claire McCardell, Alexander McQueen, Thierry Mugler, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Gianni Versace. The volume also presents a selection of ecclesiastical vestments and accessories from the Vatican collection, many of which have not been published before. 

Punk: Chaos to Couture

Andrew Bolton

Best price for this book: $ 13.95

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Since its origins in the 1970s, punk has had an explosive influence on fashion. With its eclectic mixing of stylistic references, punk effectively introduced the postmodern concept of bricolage to the elevated precincts of haute couture and directional ready-to-wear. As a style, punk is about chaos, anarchy, and rebellion. Drawing on provocative sexual and political imagery, punks made fashion overtly hostile and threatening. This aesthetic of violence – even of cruelty – was intrinsic to the clothes themselves, which were often customized with rips, tears, and slashes, as well as studs, spikes, zippers, D-Rings, safety pins, and razor blades, among other things.

This extraordinary publication examines the impact of punk’s aesthetic of brutality on high fashion, focusing on its do-it-yourself, rip-it-to-shreds ethos, the antithesis of couture’s made-to-measure exactitude. Indeed, punk’s democracy stands in opposition to fashion’s autocracy. Yet, as this book reveals, even haute couture has readily appropriated the visual and symbolic language of punk, replacing beads with studs, paillettes with safety pins, and feathers with razor blades in an attempt to capture the style’s rebellious energy. Focusing on high fashion’s embrace of punk’s aesthetic vocabulary, this book reveals how designers have looked to the quintessential anti-establishment style to originate new ideals of beauty and fashionability.

Anna Sui

Andrew Bolton

Best price for this book: $ 23

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Anna Suis trendsetting rock-and-roll looks have made her one of this decade's top five fashion icons (Time). Here, in the first book to cover the entire scope of Sui's twenty-year career, fans get rare access to the designer's creative process. This richly visual retrospective celebrates her influence, from her first show that snared the support of supermodels Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington, and Kate Moss to the role she's played in making the babydoll dress one of fashion's most iconic silhouettes. With more than 400 photographs from legendary photographers, this exquisite tomewith a shimmering foil-stamped coveris essential for all fashionistas.