I've lived in New York for almost seven years. In the first six, I never once managed to hang that art I'd been meaning to hang or curate that coffee table I'd been meaning to curate. My frames lived on the floor, leaning against a wall. And my coffee table books lived in unruly stacks, also against a wall. Recently, I got a new apartment, and with it came a newfound motivation to actually move in and invite people over. I became closely acquainted with Amazon Prime (and my storage space), and I think, maybe, I sort of became one of those people I'd always envied with a library full of of oversized books. Unfortunately, I also became one of those people who buys their friends all the things I already have and like.
In other words, this year, whether they want 'em or not, my loved ones are getting the coffee table books I imagine belong in their homes. They're the perfect (easy) gifts. And, the best part is they ship quickly—so you can pretend you didn't forget that Christmas is in a week (!). In any case, a brief guide:
For the makeup junkie: Face Paint: The Story of Makeup by Lisa Eldridge
Growing up, I was obsessed with Kevin Aucoin's Making Faces. The man could turn Gwyneth Paltrow into James Dean—that's magic. Similarly magical is Lisa Eldridge's new book, Face Paint: The Story of Makeup. The woman's done covers for Vanity Fair, W, Vogue, Interview— plus all those tutorials that are soothing enough to lull you to sleep. Face Paint is everything about makeup that you never thought to ask: how products initially developed and the stories behind some of the most iconic beauty editorials. Stories like this fun fact about Lisa Eldridge: She had her first big break when she was booked by ELLE Magazine to work with Cindy Crawford.
For the fashion historian: Becoming by Cindy Crawford
Speaking of Cindy Crawford...her new book, Becoming (you've seen the sweatshirts) catalogs 150 of Cindy's most iconic images—photos by Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Arthur Elgort, Patrick Demarchelier, and Herb Ritts—alongside stories about shooting for Playboy and MTV Style, having kids (ahem, Kaia Gerber)...more than just a memoir, it's a darn good look back on the '90s without getting lost in nostalgia.
For the freelancer with frequent flier miles: Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry
Young lovers quit their jobs in New York City and move to a tropical, one-road town in Tulum, Mexico. Sounds like a dream and also exactly what Eric Werner and Mya Henry did IRL—dropped their city lives and opened one of the most inspiring restaurants in the world. Mya runs the dining room, and Eric the kitchen. Recently, for all of our sakes, they published a book. Part cookbook, part travel porn, beware: When you read this book, you are likely to break your lease and impulse-buy a plane ticket.
For the stoner who cooks: HERB: Mastering the Art of Cooking Cannabis
OK bear with me—this book is a cultural landmark. It's the first-ever cookbook that presents cannabis cooking as dignified, and acceptable. HERB is the baby of classically trained chefs Melissa Parks and Laurie Wolf, plus the team at The Stoner's Cookbook. After experiencing cooking for a few friends with different forms of cancer, Parks—who studied at Le Cordon Bleu—decided it was time to offer up an education about cooking with hemp and cannabis in an elevated way. So even if edibles aren't your thing...it's still unquestionably great.
For the nostalgic socialite: _Peter Schlesinger: A Photographic Memory 1968-1989
_Between 1968-1989, Peter Schlesinger hung out with Paloma Picasso applying lipstick in Paris, Grace Coddington at a cafe, Andy Warhol cabbing around Monaco, and Fran Lebowitz at a book fair in New York City. He captures the young and beautiful and on-the-rise lying out on a deck in the South of France. This book is full of raw portraits—the kind you'd now see by 20-somethings on Tumblr, half-clothed or between sentences. But Schlesinger was one of the first to really do it. And on a lighter note: the book itself looks good anywhere.
For the Fornasetti girl: Piero Fornasetti: Practical Madness by Patrick Mauries and Bruno Roger
I've been a longtime cult follower of Piero Fornasetti—the Italian painter behind the namesake decor line. I am a bit obsessed with his muse. I have a shrine of candles, pillows and prints: a woman with a flower in her mouth, winking or looking up at the bee that might sting her. She always looks at me, glazed over in this modern Mona Lisa-esque way. Which is to say, she's perfect. In line with his exhibition in Paris, Fornasetti published a book of his drawings, paintings and studio archive images with Rizzoli. I love it. I don't know how you couldn't. It's sold at Barneys.
For the freckled: Freckles by Caduff, Reto & Jonathan Rees
Funny that a slight gap in your front teeth, or curly hair, or a full face of freckles used to be considered “unconventional' beauty. Some of the most beautiful humans I can think of have all three of those things. And so do many of the girls in this book, all rightly given the moniker of “beautiful' with simple, insanely beautiful portraits.
Photos via ITG.
For all of your non-literary gifting needs, check out ITG's Gift Guide.