In a world where too many people have forgotten the aesthetic and tactile pleasures that a really fine-quality print publication can offer, luxury publisher Assouline reminds us why neither Web nor the fanciest mobile device will ever be a substitute for a great coffee table hardcover. Since 1994, the company has released dozens of books in the fashion, travel, architecture/design, art, photography, epicurean arts, and spirituality sectors—but no matter what the theme might be, the product itself is always a work of art.
By Lena Katz
Photos Courtesy of Assouline
Assouline’s Latest Releases
Three of its early 2012 releases, the historic South Pole, Olympics-timely Light of London and three-volume fashion/art compendium Dior, exemplify the rarefied, intellectual diversity of the publisher—who can still charge around $75 for a single hardcover copy, as its less ambitious competitors are relegated to bargain bins.
Simply titled Dior Perfume, this retrospective title, along with companion books Dior Fine Jewellery and Dior Fashion, captures many of the best moments in the iconic French fashion house’s history. Each 80-page volume contains 60 illustrations. Journalist Jérôme Hanover authors Jewellery and Perfume, while novelist and former magazine EIC Caroline Bongrand is the author of Fashion.
Pioneers of the Possible
This title could refer to so many different sorts of thought leaders, but it’s uplifting—for a woman, at least—to realize that the pioneers are actually 20 inspiring women of the past century. From famous creative artists like Martha Graham and Frida Kahlo to business leaders and a bullfighter, the women featured in Pioneers of the Possible broke rules, records and gender stereotypes. This is a necessary library addition for all women, and lovers of women, too.
A “survey of quintessentially American women,” this portrait collection is shot by Claiborne Swanson Frank, with accompanying text by Genevieve Bahrenburg. Rather than a mere glossy love note to Ralph Lauren models, the book introduces readers to women who are driving various lifestyle industries in America—such as J. Crew creative director Jenna Lyons, gallerist Sabrina Buell, and American Vogue bookings editor Valerie Boster.
The Ivy League
Though it’s undoubtedly America’s most elite collegiate athletic conference—with unparalleled academic prestige and a mystique that goes well beyond the athletic grounds or the classroom—the Ivy League seems a better subject for a Hollywood film than for an art book. However, with Harvard alum Daniel Cappello as the voice and curator, this book blends historic anecdotes, obscure details about famous attendees, interesting numbers and insider lore—then anchors all that text to compelling art.
The Light of London
Photographers call the first and last hours of daylight “The Magic Hour” because the light is so beautiful, and so conducive to perfectly moody shots. The Light of London is a collection of black-and-white images taken around the city in the first “Magic Hour” of the day—or “the twilight of dawn,” to quote the jacket copy. Although Assouline is understandably marketing this book as essential pre-Olympic viewing, it really has nothing to do with the London most Olympics attendees will experience. This is the city before it wakes up: empty streets, misty parks, historic architecture, and hardly a soul in sight.
A gorgeous oversized art book showcasing the million-dollar weddings of celebrity event designer Ziad Raphael Nassar. Limited edition, bound by hand and elegantly presented in a linen case.
Escape Hotel Stories
An essential library addition for all armchair travelers and eclectic adventurers, this collection of gorgeous getaways runs the gamut from Easter Island eco-lodges to a storybook-gorgeous farm cottage in Cornwall to an Alaska wilderness lodge. The overarching theme (and tag line) is Retreat and Refuge in Nature, and author Francisca Mattéoli has done a great job finding luxury in hardly inhabited parts of the world, from Wyoming and Montana to the flip side of the world: Ayers Rock, Australia and mysterious Easter Island.
One of Assouline’s most distinctive and ambitious releases, this is the ultimate retelling of the tragic failed Terra Nova Expedition of 1910-1913—with excerpts from the diary of expedition leader Robert F. Scott and rare black-and-white photographs by expedition team member Herbert Ponting. The book features forwards by HSH Prince Albert of Monaco and HRH Princess Anne of Britain. It was released in three editions: trade, special edition hardcover, and a stunning oversized Artist’s Limited Luxury Edition featuring waterproof pages. Proceeds from the sales of all editions support the Antarctic Heritage Trust.