Photo books to fall in love with, from the founder of Yoffy Press

“Selecting 10 favourite photo books is a nearly impossible task, so I limited the scope to photo books I own. Each of these books represent aspects of the type of book Yoffy Press strives to publish in terms of design, innovation, and quality.” Says Jennifer Yoffy Schwartz, who founded her Atlanta-based publisher Yoffy Press. The publisher specialises in transforming photographs into bodies of art, creating a visceral and lasting celebration of creativity. We asked Jennifer to curate a selection of her favourite photo books – see her list below.

Black is the Day, Black is the Night, Amy Elkins, self-published

I tell everyone who will listen about this book. Elkins takes a subject that seems impossible to photograph – the thoughts and memories of death row inmates and the overarching capital punishment system – and brilliantly does just that. The book weaves together these images with ephemera, text, and representative objects. The design also happens to be gorgeous.

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Beyond Maps and Atlases, Bertien van Manen, MACK

This book is beautiful, and fairly straight-forward from a design perspective. But looking through is immersive. It feels like a world I want to know. I am also in awe of the edit. There are several images that are imperfect, flawed. I don’t know that I would have been brave enough to include them, but they make the book sing.

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Silent Histories, Kazuma Obara, RM Verlag

I randomly came across this book in New York last spring. It appears handmade, with dozens of little treasures tucked between pages, creating an incredibly engaging viewing experience. I bought it, because at the time, Louie Palu and I were deep into concepting mode for his book, Front Towards Enemy (to be released in October). The interactive aspect of this book was something we were striving for. Coincidentally, when I met up with Louie in New York that weekend, he pulled the same book out of his bag, and said, “this is our inspiration”.

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Ametsuchi, Rinko Kawauchi, Aperture

I recently bought this book off a recommendation from a friend, so I haven’t had a lot of time to spend with it yet. I bought it, because of the strong recommendation, and because I love images of fire. But the jackpot surprise is the French folds! You can peek inside to see the negative image of the photograph on the outside page. Brilliant.

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Swamp, Chloe Sells, GOST

Sells photographs in Botswana and then completes the images in the darkroom by experimenting with layers, texture, and forms to create unique works. The book captures the feeling of wildness through full-bleed images and oddly trimmed pages filled with intense color and overlapping patterns. This is a great example of what Yoffy Press strives to do – create a book that marries design to content to create a new work of art that is so much more than just a series of bound photos.

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Tori, Masao Yamamoto, Radius

I adore Yamamoto, and I have a bit of a bird obsession, so it’s not surprising I love this photobook. But beyond the obvious interest, the design makes a large book feel precious, like Yamamoto’s images. Flipping through the pages feels like carefully sorting through a Box of Ku. You want to touch everything. You want to know what will come next. You want to look closely and examine every detail.

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Vanilla Partner, Tørbjørn Rødland, MACK

I have a difficult time articulating why I love this book. It just feels smart and sexy and fun and a little unsettling. Looking through it feels like watching a really great movie you don’t entirely understand.

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Tones of Dirt and Bone (Special Edition), Mike Brodie, Twin Palms/TBW (Special Edition)

The color palate of Brodie’s images is distinct and striking, and the book does a great job of keeping the viewer in the mood the project evokes. But the closer for me is the slipcase in the special edition. The train window cut-out? So smart.

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My Last Day at Seventeen, Doug Dubois, Aperture

The integration of a comic into this book blows my mind. It tells a story that is based on true events – a story within a story. It’s like insight comes in sideways. It’s a hint of something beyond our grasp, but it’s enough information to let the viewer feel it. Then there’s that last page…

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The History of Photography in Pen & Ink, Drawings by Charles Woodard, A-Jump Books

While not technically a photobook, it is a book about photographs, and it is a delight.

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Orlando issue 2: ‘Discourse’ launch party

Founded by Philomena Epps in 2014, Orlando is an online platform and print magazine that fuels and ignites conversation around feminism, gender and identity. With a view to championing women creatives and intellectuals across a range of disciplines, Orlando is both radical and inclusive; it’s about uniting individuals through conversation and community.

The forthcoming issue draws together a range of work around the theme of discourse. Contributors include Katherine Jackson, who in her essay ‘The Sculpture: Language, Industry and Art in the Work of The Artist Placement Group’ considers an ephemeral 1971 work by The Artist Placement Group, long-form poetry from artist filmmaker Keira Greene and an image-led essay from Althea Greenan, curator of the Women’s Art Library.

“The name itself is inspired by the transgressive protagonist of Virginia Woolf’s 1928 novel.” says Philomena. “In the text, Woolf drew on the androgynous body as a signifier for multiplicity, and to advance a narrative of mutual understanding and inclusion. Inspired by how androgyny functions in the story, Orlando operates in a similar way by eschewing binaries in favour of the united body.”

To mark the latest issue, Orlando will be hosting a launch party next week which will see various elements of the magazine brought to life. Expect readings and performances from many of the magazine’s contributors, as well as a complimentary copy of the latest issue.

Orlando issue 2 launch party takes place on May 3rd, buy tickets here

 

In the name of (literary) love: immortality auction

Calling all literature lovers: the charity, Freedom from Torture is offering the chance for your name (or that of a loved one) to be immortalised by being named as a character in an upcoming book by a best-selling author.

This year sees literary leaders joining together to raise funds for this worthy cause that is dedicated in helping the treatment and support of torture survivors who seek refuge in the UK.  Authors involved include: Michael Morpurgo, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Tracy Chevalier, Esther Freud, Louis de Bernieres, Rose Tremain, William Boyd, Linda Grant, Chris Cleave, Eleanor Catton, Jonathan Coe, Maggie O’Farrell, Philip Pullman and Booker Prize winner Ian McEwan.

“This auction offers the genuine opportunity of an afterlife. More importantly, bidding in the Freedom from Torture auction will help support a crucial and noble cause. The rehabilitation of torture survivors cannot be accomplished without expertise, compassion, time – and your money.” said author Ian McEwan.

The online auction is running till the 16th November  on www.immortalityauction.org. For all of those in London, there is also a live auction taking place on the 17th November at Sixty One Whitehall, hosted by comedian and author Alexei Sayle.

To bid visit: www.immortalityauction.org www.freedomfromtorture.org

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Darling Days, A Memoir by iO Tillett Wright

iO Tillett Wright has many strings to his bow; the activist, speaker, writer, photographer, host and now author has proven himself to be a creative that not only pushes the boundaries, but well and truly breaks them – rejecting gender norms, and speaking out about it.

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Brought up in the vibrancy of eighties downtown New York, Wright was at the intersection of punk, poverty, heroin, and art. His life also featured his creative showgirl, and all round “erratic glamazon” of a mother, Rhonna. It is no surprise then, that Wright’s debut book, Darling Days, A Memoir, is a culmination of the rebellion and love that he was exposed to and felt from an early age. At the heart of the book, it reveals the relationship between this formidable mother and a tearaway kid, sharing the bond they have which was defined by freedom and control, excess and sacrifice.

Recently released with Harper Collins, this debut book has predictably received critical acclaim. Buy your copy harpercollins.com

Darlingdays.com

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Enter The Mushpit

Having started humbly in 2011 as an A5 DIY zine, in the last five years Mushpit has really come of age, and is in the process of compiling its 9th issue: ‘The Crisis Issue’. Born out of frustration with the rule-bound world of fashion, Mushpit is a playful reaction to glossy magazines, featuring lots of satire, as well as all your favourite tropes of teen magazines, with flow charts and problem pages aplenty.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of Mushpit yet, look no further – we spoke to creators Bertie Brandes and Char Roberts about being vodka lime socialists, unemployment, and what’s in their latest issue, which will be available for you to get your hands on pretty soon.

How would you describe Mushpit to anyone who doesn’t know it?
As useful, useless and stupid hot.

What were your aims when you started Mushpit? What gap do you think you’re filling in the market?
When we started we were very critical of “women’s media” which clearly didn’t cater to us at all. If you liked magazines then you apparently either read Vogue, Dazed, Grazia or W, which felt extremely dated. We also wanted a place to give room to all the amazing writers, photographers, stylists and time-wasters we were hanging around with.

Aidan NL

Is there a political agenda you stick to in terms of content or political leaning?
We’re Vodka Lime Socialists and proud.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
Shop signs, fizzy drinks, rival mags and the Ham & High.

Who is your audience?
People with a sense of humour, who are willing to spend money on something they have no idea about – so a lot of media dads. Oh and young women obvvsss!

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How has Mushpit evolved since it began in 2011?
It has grown in every sense. It was A5 when we were students and it’s A4 now we’re unemployed.

How do you fund the magazine? Do you have other jobs outside of Mushpit?
Charlotte (hi!) is a stylist and Bertie (hello!) is a writer. We try to do as many morally dubious and anonymous jobs as we can to fund the magazine and it sort of works. We manage to remain proudly ad-free, somehow.

What have been your favourite collaborative moments?
Shooting with Tyrone LeBon was great, and working in Suffolk with Raphy Bliss and Victoria Higgs on the new issue was a real dream shoot. Eloise Parry is an amazing photographer who we love working with, as well as Dexter Lander, who has become a regular contributor. Everything Paul Gorman does for us is phenomenal as well, not excluding him and Caz’s next feature.

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Can you give us any teasers for the next issue?
There’s some great editorial in issue 9; our good friend Martin has interviewed one of the founding editors of Spare Rib and, perhaps a little less high-brow, there’s a dandruff diet page for flaky scalp sufferers.

What kind of impact do you think Mushpit has?
We hope that once you’ve finished the magazine you feel vindicated and victorious… And ready to take on the world! The horrible, horrible world.

‘The Crisis Issue’ is coming in early October to Themushpit.co.uk

All images courtesy of Mushpit Magazine

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TASCHEN

The big Taschen book sale

To welcome 2016, Taschen books are launching a sale that will run from the 28th to the 31st of January. Taschen’s South London store – situated in Duke of York Square – will offer discounts of between 50-75% on displayed and slightly damaged titles, which will also be extended to their website www.taschen.com.

Originally known as Taschen Comics, the publishing house was established in 1980 by Benedikt Taschen to publish his extensive comic book collection. It has since become a force in making lesser-known art available to mainstream bookstores and in bringing subversive art into broader public view. Taschen has always embraced potentially controversial material alongside books that focus on subjects like art photography, comics, painting, fashion, film and architecture. Their reputation of producing more daring titles on fetishistic imagery, queer art, historical erotica and pornography has set them apart from traditional competitors, making Taschen the first stop for lovers of print, art, anthropology… and aphrodisia.

In its 35-year history, Taschen has garnered a global following and made headlines several times. It has produced the world’s most popular art book series, the introductory Basic Art Series, and has broken records with Helmut Newton’s SUMO – the most expensive book published in the 20th Century. Last year, Taschen introduced Art and Collectors Editions with models Gisele Bündchen and Naomi Campbell, photographer Bettina Rheims and music icon David Bowie. Join Taschen on the 28th of January as they celebrate many new, bold ventures for 2016, and indulge your artistic, or erotic, needs.

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The Anonymous Sex Journal & a new age of erotica

The Anonymous Sex Journal – that pleasurable, pocket-sized zine – is back and the new issue is all about solo sexual adventures, or the “ménage à mois”. For those not familiar, the cheeky zine consists of anonymously submitted stories that range from awkward and sordid, to hilarious and endearing – adjectives which often describe the broad range of human sexual experiences. Created by London-based editor, Alex Tieghi-Walker, its success lies in the name: anonymity, where contributors are freed of having their names attached to revealing and compelling sexual exposés.

In a similar way that iconic gay zine, Butt, did over a decade ago, The Anonymous Sex Journal represents a new wave of sex-themed magazines with strong artistic sensibilities that are changing the way we look at sex. Other examples are Irene in Paris, Treats from Los Angeles, and Adult in New York, all of which are shifting the atmosphere of sexual discourse towards a more honest and diverse one.

With a vested focus on art direction, they sell at a premium with the aim of, as described by the New York Times, “moving sex periodicals from under the mattress up onto the coffee table.” One of the best aspects of The Anonymous Sex Journal is its focus on celebrating the creativity of one illustrator per issue – for this fourth issue, Laura Callaghan (her work is featured above) – making them as beautiful as they are fun, and increasing the publication’s good humour.

The new issue of The Anonymous Sex Journal: The Solo Issue has been restocked at Ditto Press and submissions for the next issue, “The Hotel Issue of Dirty Weekenders,” are already being taken.

theanonymoussexjournal.com

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Pamflet x Twin: Spring Reviews

When it comes to column inches and tabloid notoriety the Kardashians have got nothing on the Mitford sisters. These charismatic socialites dominated the headlines of the ’20s and ’30s with their exploits, and perhaps the most controversial and complex of the siblings was Diana, hailed, incredibly, as both the most beautiful and the most hated woman of her day. After a spectacular launch into society as the teenage debutante who bagged the dashing and fabulously wealthy Bryan Guinness, she scandalised her set by becoming the mistress of Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists. It’s a story that has been told countless times from every possible angle, including in Diana’s own memoir, The Pursuit of Laughter, but the story can stand another retelling because the woman at the heart of it remains an enigma, her actions impossible to fathom.

In Mrs Guinness: The Rise and Fall of Diana Mitford, the Thirties Socialite (The History Press, £17.99), Lyndsy Spence paints a compelling portrait of a woman with the capacity for passionate love and loyalty, but who was equally capable of closing her mind to the nastier implications of such deep devotion. Through unpublished letters and diaries she goes back through Diana’s childhood, teenage years and first marriage in an effort to understand how she became the woman she did. The composite portrait that she has pieced together may be as close as we will ever get to understanding the mystery that is Diana Mitford.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – And Other Lessons from the Crematorium (Canongate, £12.99) is a highly unusual memoir by mortician Caitlin Doughty who’s passionate about demystifying death. She is a twentysomething woman with an impeccable fringe who has got funeral ash under her nails and doesn’t mind explaining how it got there. Smoke is her manifesto for how to live – and die – better, a memoir of her own coming-to-terms-with mortality and a deconstruction of the mostly quite appalling death industry. Caitlin, with her no-nonsense style and absolute single-mindedness plus a healthy dose of goth sensibility, bravely shows that death is nothing to be afraid of.

The Green Road (Jonathan Cape, £16.99) is a return to form for 2007 Booker winner Anne Enright who was named Ireland’s first fiction laureate in January. Set in pre-recession Ireland where there’s abundant optimism and bundles of euros, Enright is free to explore the idea of family without having to negotiate the country’s current economic doldrums.

Rosaleen Madigan wants to sell up her homestead and split the money between her grown-up children: two sons, two daughters. The road of the title leads the characters back home for Christmas to hear about their mother’s plans. It’s also a reference to how they have each escaped, whether to Toronto, or Timbuktu, or just up the road to Dublin. This is a familiar Irish narrative where siblings have fled the homeland for better lives and opportunities, but each of their homecomings will chime with readers. Familial disappointments, anxieties, failures, rivalries and questions around belonging are all delicately handled and Enright’s writing has an easy poetry, ‘Beauty, in glimpses and flashes, that is what the soul required. That was the drop of water on the tongue.’

Glossy book of the month: In Icons of Women’s Style (Laurence King, £19.95), Josh Sims introduces the essential pieces that make up the clothing canon. An essay accompanied by some fine fashion photography explains why each those perennial classics – including capri pants, A-line dresses, Breton tops – are always in style.

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. 

Images from Icons of Women’s Style

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Feminism Friday: Spare Rib magazine’s digital archives available from The British Library

Iconic feminist magazine Spare Rib’s digitised archives were launched online by the British Library yesterday, providing selected highlights from the magazine, examining how it was run, why it was started and the issues it dealt with. Running from 1972-93, it challenged the stereotyping and exploitation of women, while supporting solutions to the problems they faced.

The archives are a testament to how much has changed in terms of individual rights – a quick read of the news pages provides examples such a woman being fired for wearing a lesbian movement badge – and a reminder of all we have won. Yet it is also a reminder of how much further there is to go.

Spare Rib is enjoyably full of self-parody, lightheartedness and warmth, a surprising product of that era – and your perfect weekend read.

www.bl.uk/spare-rib

Pamflet 13: Absent in the Spring

Twin contributors and Pamflet founders, Phoebe Frangoul and Anna-Marie Fitzgerald, are about to launch the thirteenth issue of their post-everything, satirical girl culture zine. It’s been four years since a printed edition has been released, but their back with 40+ pages of pure London grrrl culture.

To celebrate Phoebe and Anna-Marie will be at The Trouble Club on Monday 27th April, where there will be free-flowing wine, music and zines for all.

Get tickets to the launch of Pamflet 13: Absent in the Spring here

pamflet.co.uk

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Print is Dead. Long live Print

Everyone has an opinion when it comes to print. Some think it’s a dying industry, while others will prompt you to take a look at the magazines on the stands, and more closely at those independent titles that keep coming back for more. Ruth Jamieson’s latest book, Print is Dead. Long live Print, does just that; it is a look at the creatively led magazines that are currently shaping the future of print journalism.

We are very honoured to be featured in the tome alongside some of our favourite publications such as Hole and Corner, Manzine and Kinfolk.

Print is Dead, Long Live Print is available now here

TWIN X featured in Print is Dead. Long live Print

 

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Pamflet x Twin: March Books

China is a rising economic force in the world, but little is known about the social and emotional lives of its young people. In Little Emperors and Material Girls (I.B. Tauris, £14.99) Jemimah Steinfeld gives a fascinating insight into a generation that has grown up in a post-Communist society and is the product of the one child policy. Attitudes towards love, sex, careers, family, money and politics are revealed through a series of amazingly candid conversations with Steinfeld – a journalist who lived and worked in China – and backed up by powerful statistics. This is a country with a population of 1.4 billion, with 300 million under the age of 30. In clubs, coffee houses and restaurants she meets ‘leftovers’ (unmarried women over 26), ‘bare branches’ (men without children) and China’s cash-flashing rich kids, known as fu’erdai. They talk about internet dating, parental pressure (especially on gay kids whose parents expect them to marry and continue the family line), financial struggles (turns out it’s as hard to pay the rent in Beijing as in London), sexism and punk rock. They describe feelings of loneliness and alienation, frustration and anger, but also hope and ambition. If you want to know what the future of China looks like, read this book.

Fashion + women + social history: Julie SummersFashion on the Ration (Profile Books, £16.99) ticks ALL our boxes. A detailed account of the crucial role fashion played during WW2, this book brings rationing, clothing coupons and that familiar phrase, ‘make do and mend’ to life through personal testimonies, photographs and Summers’ evocative prose. The tenacity of the men and women on the home front is revealed through anecdotes; Vogue’s staff finishing an issue in the basement after their offices were bombed in the Blitz, Barbara Cartland buying wedding dresses for women in the services to borrow from a ‘wedding dress pool’. Fashion mags acted as tools for disseminating important information from the government, but also as morale-boosters – urging women to make the best of their restricted wardrobes and promoting the idea of ‘beauty as duty’, for their own sakes and for the pride of the nation. Summers analyses the roles of the top designers including Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell in designing utility clothing (essentially the first designer/high street collaborations). Perhaps inevitably alongside this, the female silhouette changed and fussy frills were out, clean lines and simplicity were in. In a fascinating fact from social history, Summers reveals that for many poor people, the quality of their wardrobes improved thanks to the introduction of coupons and utility clothing which raised the standards of production and distribution. The influence of these seismic changes to the fashion industry, both in terms of aesthetics and manufacturing, can still be felt today.

Our glossy book of the month is Improbable Libraries by Alex Johnson (Thames and Hudson, £14.95 hardback). As public libraries all over the world are shutting down or shrinking, Improbable Libraries is a timely celebration of book-shrines in all their guises. Library-lover (and proud son of two librarians) Alex Johnson is not remotely nostalgic in this collection and instead shows what book recommending, lending and displaying can mean today. He mixes up images and essays on everything library, surveying mobile units, tiny bibliothèques and grand academic institutions. He uncovers some surprising book depositories in repurposed spaces (old phone boxes for example) and somewhat less surprising literature exchanges tucked away in corners of pubs and cafes. Whether personal or public, what a library is or can be is changing and it’s all optimistically documented here. These valuable community spaces, private sanctuaries, luxurious garden book dens and educational lifelines (like the incredible travelling camel library in the Gobi Desert) aren’t going anywhere. Browsing through these dreamy book-nooks made me think that the rather conventional alcove shelving project I’m currently working on could probably benefit from a little bit of these Improbable Librarians’ imaginations.

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. 

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Pamflet X Twin: February

It sometimes feels as if London lags a little behind other great cities like New York and Paris when it comes to the way it’s depicted in pop culture – somehow the gritty glamour of our beloved capital doesn’t necessarily translate well to page or screen. But Jason Brooks’ beautiful London Sketchbook (Laurence King, £19.95) is a fitting tribute, something to treasure and leaf through on bleak January afternoons. You will recognise Brooks’ distinctive fashion illustrations from posters and the pages of Vogue and Elle, but with London as his muse he has really let his imagination and talent run riot, creating thoughtful, elegant drawings that truly capture the spirit of the city.

The book is divided into themed chapters such as ‘the street’, ‘London by night’ and ‘fashion’ so you can flip straight to your subject of choice. Brooks mixes collage, speedy, sparse pen and ink sketches, crisp, precise architectural drawings, quotations from the likes of Virginia Woolf and Disraeli and facts and anecdotes to evoke a very personal vision of his city which is by turns moving, witty and educational. If you’re tired of London, this ravishing visual feast will inspire you to put up your brolly and hit the rainy pavements to fall in love with the city all over again.

Josa Young’s second novel, Sail Upon the Land (Keyes Ink, £8.99) is a moving, richly told story about motherhood in all its forms and how this role can encompass earth-shattering love and terrifying ambivalence. Spanning several generations and jumping between the English countryside, London and India, the narrative is complex but satisfying, weaving together different strands from a cast of well-observed characters.

The life of a deb in swinging ‘60s London is vividly brought to life with humour and a sharp eye for detail, but it’s the descriptions of mothers – both biological and otherwise – that are almost painful in their realism. The complicated relationship between daughter and mother is depicted with brutal honesty and from multiple perspectives, as each woman moves from one role to the next. The heroine, Damson, is a sympathetic, complex character who you will find yourself thinking about long after finishing this thoughtful, thought-provoking novel.

Elsa Schiaparelli: A Biography by Meryle Secrest (Fig Tree, £25) this new biography tells the story of one of fashion’s true originals whose costumes now hang in galleries rather than wardrobes. In her 1920s and 1930s haute couture heyday, Italian-born French designer Schiap (1890-1973) dressed film stars and socialites and enjoyed a personal life that was almost as dramatic as her impact on the fashions of the time.

Secrest’s biography is wonderfully gossipy and the best sections are where she explains how and why Schiap’s style was so unique and the genius behind her approach to fashion business as well as design. She excelled at creating and perpetuating her own myths, living in gloriously eccentric apartments, appearing at all the most-talked-about parties and surrounding herself with a talented team. She conjured up a kind of magic around her creations and her persona and built up this mystique with the help of a series of dazzling collaborators, including (most famously) Dalí. But although she took her work very seriously, she didn’t mind that her clothes were enthusiastically copied by dressmakers at home – she liked being popular.

And who could resist her madcap style (she even sold a hat called the Mad Cap)? This personal myth-making means that many facts that a biographer might need to tell the full story have been obscured by Schiap’s own efforts over the years, but what is clear is her timeless style legacy. The ‘nonchalant chic’ of her early years – technically impressive sporty garments, wrap dresses, bloomers – inspired by the leisure habits of her fabulous and wealthy milieu continues to influence designers today.

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. 

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Inferno: Alexander McQueen

Alexander McQueen’s autumn/winter 1996 show, titled Dante, took place at the run-down Christ Church in London’s East End. It was this presentation, and it’s collection, that would cement his place amongst fashion’s most innovative and exciting designers.

Now, nearly twenty years later, exclusive raw, unseen photographs from the runway and backstage, including the garments, the models and Lee himself, are released for the very first time in this sumptuous and revealing new book. Inferno: Alexander McQueen by Kent Baker and Melanie Rickey, takes a look at the shows use of digital print, crudely bleached denim, lace and chiffon embellishment, and the couture meets club-culture ideals, a mix of high-brow and low-end – all themes we are now accustomed to seeing in everyday fashion, proving just how important McQueen’s collection really was.

With contributions from Suzy Menkes, Katy England and Andrew Groves; as well as words from the models, stylists, designers and creatives that all participated in the making of the legendary event.

Inferno: Alexander McQueen is to be released in March 2015. 

laurenceking.com

Image: Kent Baker and Laurence King Publishing

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Pamflet x Twin: Books of the Year 2014

These are the books we’ve loved, recommended, given and definitely won’t forget this year.

The reliably magnificent Siri Hustvedt’s sixth novel The Blazing World (Sceptre) is a dazzling book of ideas about gender, the contemporary art world and New York. The novel’s heroine is Harriet ‘Harry’ Burden, a frustrated, eccentric and talented woman who revives her abandoned artistic career after the death of her husband. Rather than making a traditional comeback, she instead engineers an ambitious experiment and hides her identity behind a revolving cast of male fronts to see whether they affect how her work is received. The story is told through Harry’s journals and is supplemented by accounts from her collaborators, family, lover and friends, an effective device which adds authenticity to what’s a high-concept novel about a high-concept world and made me ask ‘What if someone actually tried to do this?’ While I was reading it I got completely obsessed and all I wanted to do was finish it – but for it not to end at the same time: a good thing.

‘Have you heard of Elena Ferrante?’ Well, I hadn’t until earlier this year when a friend recommended her series of fictionalised memoirs, The Neapolitan Novels, to me, describing the mysterious Italian author as ‘the female Knausgaard’ which made me want to get the first book right away. The perfect summer (or winter) read, this is an incredibly vivid, sensuous portrait of childhood in grim poverty in 1950s Naples. At its centre is the obsessive, devoted friendship between Elena and Lila who we follow through adolescence, their academic successes and failures, jobs and boyfriends. Their two intertwined stories ask how much an individual can do to change the course of the life that her opportunities and circumstances have offered her. Three books have been published in the series so far, with the most recent released in September and the fourth and final installment expected in Italy next year. I had about 2 weeks in September when I felt like I had Elena all to myself, but I don’t mind that the secret’s already out because she’s too good to miss.

by Viv Albertine (Faber) that lengthy and chanty title is just the beginning of the uncompromising life story that Viv Albertine shares in her memoir. Guitarist in The Slits, Laura Ashley model, musician, director, actor, artist, mother – she has had a fascinating fifty-nine years and there’s a lot more to talk about than being a girl in the punk world (but that’s a good place to start).

In CCCMMMBBB she scrapbooks her vividly recalled memories together and adds a helpful appendix at the end detailing the most crucial bits of her biography – what she was wearing, listening to and who she was seeing during each of her eras. Her unconventional life story makes for compelling reading and her story illuminates some of life’s joyous feminist contradictions. It’s also worth mentioning that I haven’t read a book which so unashamedly and refreshingly reveals the secrets of the female bedroom since Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman, bedsheets, wardrobe, dressing table and all.

Albertine laments the fact that she had no female role models as a would-be guitarist in the late seventies, but luckily for us with this book she’s shown why she should be a heroine to every music-loving, clothes-obsessed, odd-one-out-girl out there.

I knew nothing about the original kickass comic book heroine Wonder Woman’s back story so Professor Jill Lepore’s astonishingly thorough and readable book, The Secret History of Wonder Woman (Scribe) was a total revelation. It tells the story of the pop culture icon who was brought to life by Lynda Carter in the TV series, while also giving the reader a fascinating account of the evolution of the women’s movement throughout the twentieth century, from the Suffragettes and birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger to the issues facing feminists today.

The Amazonian superheroine’s creator, William Moulton Marston, was a charismatic, complicated man who invented the lie detector test and was a passionate believer in free love and feminism. The intelligent, emancipated women in his life were immortalised in the pen and ink adventures of Wonder Woman – a character who has commanded devotion from millions of fans over seven decades. Comic books are more popular than ever today and with new characters like Ms Marvel (the first female Muslim superhero) bringing the genre kicking and screaming into the 21st century, now’s the perfect time to learn about where it all began. The Secret History of Wonder Woman is the perfect Christmas gift for: sullen teenagers of both sexes, comic book geeks and kickass feminists.

If you loved Stef Penney’s The Tenderness of Wolves and Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, you will adore The Miniaturist (Picador). Jessie Burton’s impressive debut follows the fortunes of 18 year old Nella Oortman as she enters the home of her enigmatic merchant husband in 17th century Amsterdam. As Nella tries to navigate a new world of commerce, secrets and a society as opaque as the city’s murky canals, she starts to receive disconcerting, perfectly beautiful miniatures that tell her more about her own precarious situation than she understands herself. This is an eerie, absorbing novel populated with characters who are totally vivid and compelling, despite the five hundred years between us and them.

We’ve been eagerly anticipating Vivienne Westwood (Picador) as much as Morrissey’s autobiography and it doesn’t disappoint. Told both in the High Priestess of Punk’s own words and through uber-biographer Ian Kelly’s evocative prose, it brings together the multicoloured threads of Dame Viv’s life, from her early days safety-pinning binbags in her shop on the King’s Road, to the glamour and high-octane drama of her 2014 Gold Label show in Paris. The narrative zooms in and out, part told by Kelly – a detached but fascinated visitor to planet fashion – and part intimate memoir as Vivienne recalls her childhood and intense relationship with Malcolm Mclaren, as well as the passion for climate revolution which drives her today. Whether you’ve worn one of Vivienne Westwood’s designs or not, her influence is undeniable. From her punk origins to her massive fame in the Far East, this sharp-as-a-tack, soft-voiced Derbyshire woman has played a part in creating the world we live in today.

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. 

PAMFLET X TWIN: NOVEMBER

There aren’t many bloggers who have successfully made the transition from pixels to print – too often something gets lost in translation – but Sasha Wilkins aka Liberty London Girl has more than pulled it off with her first book, Friends, Food, Family (Quadrille Books, £18.99). Ostensibly a recipe book, it’s also an elegant and insightful guide to living well packed with lists of the best foodie spots and flower markets around the world, tips for throwing a stress-free cocktail party and the ultimate dinner party playlist.

But first, the food: there are simple recipes for kitchen beginners which require a handful of ingredients and the most basic culinary skills, then for more confident cooks there are some serious showstoppers, such as a spectacular triple-layer lemon cake. Each recipe has a highly personal flavour – these are dishes Sasha has cooked countless times for her nearest and dearest in kitchens all over the world, so she knows they work on every level.

Through her witty, wise prose, the Delia of the digital age delivers the message of good food – it nourishes the soul as much as the stomach and should give joy to the creator as well as the consumer. Whether you’re a fan of the Liberty London Girl blog and want to explore the LLG world further or are simply looking for a reliable cookbook packed with foolproof recipes that will comfort and impress in equal measure, Friends, Food, Family will fast become a kitchen shelf stalwart.

Lily King’s Euphoria (Picador, £13.99) is a compelling novel inspired by the life of the anthropologist Margaret Mead, her husband and a colleague during their time studying the tribes in New Guinea. The three main characters have complicated, intense relationships which are skilfully rendered against a beautiful, dangerous landscape that is as powerful a presence as the people living in it. The story of an all-too-typical love triangle in an extraordinary setting unfolds through often contradictory accounts from the characters’ different perspectives, building up a multi-layered narrative that reveals much about these intelligent, egotistical personalities. But the most tantalising aspect of this story is wondering just how much was drawn from fact and how much was the inspiration of the author’s imagination.

Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned has been one of the most anticipated books of 2014 and it was worth the wait. Wrapped in a seventies-throwback dust jacket and finished with dreamy endpapers which look pretty from far away and reveal a mosaic of tacky girl-stuff close up, here is Lena Dunham, let loose.

If you’ve already seen Girls, Tiny Furniture and the rest, this book of lists and essays is testament to how consistently Lena has mined her own experiences for her screen fictions. That blurred interexchange between memoir and storytelling is what makes her work so authentic and resonant – and the content of these essays so familiar. There’s not much here to surprise the fan, including the fact that she’s just as amusing on the page as on TV. However, this goes much further than the average confessional narrative. Indeed, ‘I live in a world that is almost compulsively free of secrets’ she states at one point, comparing her relaxed attitude towards privacy to others’ reticence.

Our heroine might not feel very glamourous most of the time, but for the English kind-of-girl reader, her world is ridiculously fabulous. She grew up in SoHo, NYC, vacationed in idyllic summer camps and holiday homes and hung out with artists and wannabes. In that glamorous world Lena might have been the weird girl, the outcast, the morbidly obsessive teen but that otherness has made her an open-minded, fair and funny observer.

The most tantalising and entertaining chapters of Not that Kind of Girl are where Lena takes a break from her mostly polite, professional persona and unleashes her inner anger. In one she addresses (names have been changed) her many detractors in a series of unsent emails and in another she reveals that she hopes she’ll live to 80 so that she can legally expose all the sexist ‘sunshine stealers’ who’ve treated her badly in Hollywood (they’ll all be dead by then).

Furies: A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors (For Books’ Sake, £10) edited by Eve Lacey (all profits from the collection will go to Rape Crisis England & Wales) is a brilliant anthology of verse inspired by women warriors from the internet’s finest lady books journal For Books’ Sake. Featuring contributions on Betty Draper, Sylvia Plath and more, this is a vital and powerful outpouring of page-rage.

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. 

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Pamflet X Twin: New Season Reading

The new season starts with two nostalgic style-story anthologies from Sheila Heti, Emily Shivack and friends in Pamflet’s September reading roundup.

Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits and Leanne Shapton (Particular Books, £24) includes contributions from 639 women and feels like a companion American volume to one of our favourite books of all time, Luella’s Guide to English Style. Like Luella’s book, it’s a beautiful object, which is apt given the subject matter. Naturally I skipped straight to the famous names’ contributions first – friend-of-Pamflet Tavi Gevinson and voice of her/a generation Lena Dunham.

Tavi gives her thoughts on colours and their meanings and confirms what I always said of navy blue “it’s the best color for a peacoat”, while Lena Dunham solemnly pronounces “I just won’t go there with a gaucho pant…it feels like a rejection of everything great about having lady legs.” Amen sister. Zosia Mamet recreates authentic fashion mag poses from every decade in a black unitard which is brilliant. And Kim Gordon talks about her stage style and modelling for Saint Laurent Paris – this book is basically like eavesdropping on the cool girls’ table at the world’s most awesome party.

Despite the plush paper and sharp finish, Women in Clothes has an endearingly zine-y feel. There are whimsical illustrations, photocopied hands wearing rings, beautiful photographs of deconstructed garments, changing room selfies, anecdotes, essays, poems and transcriptions from Skype chats.

There’s a sweet repeated feature throughout the book called ‘compliments’ which is just that – transcriptions of overheard conversations between women where one is paying the other a compliment!

It’s immediately inclusive, like being a part of a loud, drunken conversation among close friends where everyone’s shouting over each other but you all understand exactly what you’re talking about because it’s shared and true and good.

I LOVE how all the amazing intelligent stylish women in this book, plus the likes of Mindy Kaling are claiming fashion as their own and proudly defending it and celebrating it – refusing to be intimidated either by the dictatorial glossy mags who want to shame you into feeling you can’t participate in brittle beautiful Planet Fashion, or the puritan killjoys who seem to think we should just slouch around in sackcloth because anything more pleasurable or pretty is superficial and stupid.

If anyone ever bleats on at you about how fashion and clothes don’t matter (not that this tends to happen in real life, just in the Guardian comments section) just wordlessly hand them this book and walk away.

Worn Stories is the result of a four-year project by New Yorker Emily Spivack (Princeton Architectural Press, £15.99), a teacher and a blogger who’s been collecting first person accounts of clothes from their owners. From the starting point of a visit to a garment factory in her introduction, she contrasts the mass-production mechanisms behind contemporary clothing manufacture with our personal experiences of choosing outfits and the context we ourselves give our wearables.

We all have a favourite item with a ton of memories woven into its history like a pattern. Here some famous and not-so-famous personalities share their own stories alongside photographs of their items hanging lonely and unworn. These are objects invested with much special significance and whether they’ve been worn once or worn-out, patched together these mini sartorial memoirs make a fitting tribute to the contributors’ wardrobe favourites. Hearing about LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney’s stage costume, Simon Doonan’s cycling shorts, Piper Kerman’s court suit, Greta Gerwig’s crush’s old shirt will have you searching through your cupboards for your own worn stories.

Print: Fashion, Interiors, Art by Simon Clarke (Laurence King, £30) is our glossy book of the month. Lushly coated in a wraparound jacket of hazy florals, this is an up-to-date guide to current print trends and a cutting edge sourcebook for eye-catching and innovative design and digital patterns.

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet. 

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PAMFLET X TWIN: SUMMER READS

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Here they discuss the releases, trends and going’s on in the literary world worth knowing about. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet.

Pamflet stay close to home with summer reads set around London, Cambridgeshire and Bristol…

Low Expectations by Elizabeth Aaron (Quercus, £6.99) is proper summer froth to enjoy while supping on a plastic tumbler of home-prepped sangria in Victoria Park. Loosely plotted around the final year of university student Georgie’s fashion degree, we join her as she marauds around east London with her two best friends Rose and Sarah never quite knowing where she’s going. Low Expectations is full of observational comedy and cameos from some familiar locations and is cutely illustrated by Aaron who has a background in fashion design.

Anna Freeman’s debut novel The Fair Fight (Weidenfeld and Nicholson, £12.99 hardback) is about to join that sparse canon of women writing on boxing – and the even sparser canon within it of women writing about women boxing. There’s some rich material around girls throwing punches for sport and Freeman mines it beautifully, vividly inventing Bristol’s 18th century underworld and colouring it with some with historical humour and lots of local vernacular. Her tale of unlikely pugilist Ruth who grows up in a brothel before taking to the ring is reminiscent of early Sarah Waters (who’s already a fan).

On the non-fiction shelf the just-released Unspeakable Things (Bloomsbury, £12.99 paperback) is a fierce polemic against all kinds of gender-pigeonholing and an exposé on the perils of online living for outspoken women by feminist journalist and campaigner Laurie Penny. Here, as in her previous work, Penny manages to combine theory with intense personal commentary and is never less than fearlessly honest. She was as articulate as ever in conversation with Mary Beard last month in London and will be missed when she heads off to Harvard this autumn.

When Cambridge academic Helen Macdonald‘s father dies suddenly, she seeks solace in her lifelong passion for falconry and H is for Hawk (Jonathan Cape, £14.99 hardback) is her memoir of the post-traumatic experience. Distraught and flailing, she buys a baby goshawk she names Mabel to train and finds comfort and routine in the all-consuming nature of the bird/mistress relationship. Descriptions of the psychic despairs of her grief are tempered with some exquisite wildlife writing as she contemplates the lines and connections between (wo)man and beast and traces the archaic, masculine and mysterious history of hawk-training. In Macdonald’s perfectly considered words as she’s getting to know Mabel, her feathers make her look like a ‘cappuccino samurai’ and soon ‘it was hard to distinguish between my heart and the hawk at all’. Unusual and incredibly moving.

Glossy book of the summer: Why Fashion Matters (Thames and Hudson, £9.99 hardback) is a list of 101 reasons why clothes, the industry and style make a difference by Frances Corner, the director of LCF. A cool manifesto for flicking through that it’s rather hard to disagree with.

 

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PAMFLET X TWIN: JUNE

Anna-Marie Fitzgerald and Phoebe Frangoul are the co-editors and co-founders of the London grrrl-zine and literary salon Pamflet. Here they discuss the releases, trends and going’s on in the literary world worth knowing about. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram @Pamflet.

Happy birthday John Lewis and three provocative holiday reads in this month’s Pamflet x Twin books roundup…

Sally Heathcote: Suffragette by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot

Graphic novels are just such good value – great writing AND beautiful visuals to add another dimension to the reading experience – what’s not to like? Sally Heathcote: Suffragette (£ 16.99, Jonathan Cape) by Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot tells the story of a young working class woman who becomes part of the suffrage movement and rubs shoulders with its biggest personalities – the Pankhursts and Emily Davison – and some others I hadn’t heard of before.

Much is made of the often bitter infighting between the various factions of fourth wave feminists, in particular the undignified way it can play out on social media, so in a funny way it’s quite reassuring to discover, on reading Sally Heathcote: Suffragette, ‘twas ever thus. Personality clashes and petty jealousies existed between the leading proponents of the suffragette movement, but in no way does that take away from their astonishing achievements – in fact a bit of healthy dissent amongst the troops probably helped strengthen their cause – a lesson that should give fourth wavers heart.

Alongside Sally’s story, there’s a parallel narrative that traces the developing suffrage movement, from the early days of pamphleteering and disrupting public meetings, to the more hardcore acts of civil disobedience. The power and passion of the campaign is vividly brought to life by the dynamic illustrations, nowhere more effectively than in a particularly brutal series of drawings that drive home the horror and humiliation of the force-feeding that the suffragettes endured in prison. There’s a twist in this tale that’ll hopefully leave anyone who ‘didn’t get round’ to voting in the recent elections feeling suitably ashamed.

A Very British Revolution: 150 Years of John Lewis by Jonathan Glancey

Anyone who’s stepped into the hallowed halls of John Lewis and given themselves up to its comforting, mum-like embrace will appreciate that 2014 is a significant year for this national treasure. JL is celebrating its 150th birthday with special edition products, by opening up the roof terrace on the Oxford Street building to the public (it’s previously been an oasis for JL partners) and with the publication of A Very British Revolution: 150 Years of John Lewis (Laurence King, £20).

While this is pretty much a bible for JL obsessives, tracing as it does the evolution of the brand from its birth in 1864, it’s much more than that – it’s a social history, a study in Englishness. For we are, after all, a nation of shopkeepers and no one fits that description more accurately than John Lewis himself, the archetypal self-made man. We learn how the orphaned John was apprenticed to a draper, found his way to London and built up his own business slowly but surely (in contrast to the flashier William Whiteley down the road). He had a sad romance (his beloved’s family considered him too lowly a prospect), before eventually marrying Eliza Mills, one of the first female undergrads at Cambridge and he ruled his kingdom with a stern, firm hand.

John Lewis’ personal and professional story is told against a fascinating backdrop of British history, from the Victorian era’s energy and confidence, though the suffrage movement, the general strike, two world wars, the post-war rebuilding period and the social revolution of the sixties to the London 2012 Olympics. Art, architecture, fashion, technology and politics play their part in this story and it’s beautifully told through illustrations, photographs and Jonathan Glancey’s crisp, insightful prose.

The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

Iowa Writers’ Workshop was immortalised in Girls series two and The Empathy Exams (Granta, £12.99) is an example of how it’s reached cult-TV-reference-status. Course alumnus Leslie Jamison writes essays in the way (it seems) that mostly only American writers have the space to do and in her first collection she proves herself a mistress of the form. She meditates on her subjects – the wounded, the wrongly accused, the heartbroken, and the downright wild – with intense curiosity and wonder. Universal themes emerge from the pieces, but her experiences and writing style are exclusively those of a twenty-something woman and she might confidently reference The Lost Boys in one breath and a classical philosopher in the next. This mix of low and high cultures, contemporary and ancient, intimate and public makes her writing and subjects shockingly fresh and new. Think Sloane Crosley in a deep and contemplative email exchange with Susan Sontag.

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Room&Book

The ICA is playing host to a three-day art book fair this week, in association with Claire de Rouen Books. You’ll be able to find publications on a range of themes such as art, photography, fashion and design, and as well as the books themselves, the fair promises to bring zine aficionados, legendary specialists, magazine experts and artist book connoisseurs together with visitors in a unique gathering any book lover will appreciate. Room&Book will be the first art book fair in London to focus exclusively on the role of the book dealer.

Participants confirmed are: Arthur Fournier Fine & RareBookmarc, Christian Flamm, Claire de Rouen BooksDiagonal Press,Ditto PressElegantly Papered, Koenig Books, Louis Vuitton Maison LibrairieLuminous Books with Anagram BooksMaggs Bros (Carl Williams and Titus Boeder), Oliver J WoodBernard Quaritch LtdSimon FinchSims ReedTest Centre BooksThe Village Bookstore20th Century Art Archives.

For more information head to ica.org.uk.

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