One has to assume that this relates directly to my obsession with museum bookstores but I love a great coffee table book. If you watch me read a fashion magazine, you’ll find that I get through them rather quickly because I ‘read’ by looking at images. Later on I will go back and properly read the copy that grabs my attention but nothing speaks to me more than images.
One of our first field trips for my class here in Paris played directly to this part of me. We made a visit to Assouline, a luxury book publisher founded in Paris by husband and wife team, Prosper and Martine Assouline. Their books are based on both the beauty of their content but also the magic of a perfectly printed book. The visuals speak louder than the words, which are kept to a minimum while being as educational as possible.
Their topics range from fashion, travel, art, design and photography. A total feast for the eyes. From an amazing Tom Ford anthology to a series of smaller tributes to individual fashion designers to cities at night and Condé Nast Traveler images and the Russian Ballet. You could spend hours going through their boutique reading about the fashion inspired by Hitchcock films and your favorite exotic destinations. And if you want to know what sets these ‘picture books’ apart is their usage of ‘B-side’ images. Every now and then the classic image you expect to see, like in the Marilyn Monroe book, shows up but the majority if the photos are ones you have never seen, catching the object off-guard and in a way that allows you to be a more of a fly on the wall. (I myself purchased a book about the legendary Parisian lingerie house Chantelle.)
And guess what? You can bind your own book through Assouline. I doubt it’s cheap but I bet it is totally worth it. Their books are as beautiful as the art inside them.
Assouline has boutiques all over the world from New York to Mexico City and even Istanbul. The Paris boutique is a real hub of the operation and if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to see Prosper or Martine themselves. Learn more about Assouline here.