As much an organic part of the home as any eye-catching signature furniture piece, and as much a hint at the intellectual inner workings of a household as any novel or academic journal on the shelf, the coffee table book is above all a statement. When one seats their guests in the living room for cocktails or conversation, their eyes will inevitably drift downwards to scan the titles splayed out at knee-height. What do yours say about you?
Some can’t resist the call of the wild, choosing glossy volumes illustrating rare fauna or an ode to an endangered species. Others give their hearts to the historical anthology, celebrating a certain place and its transformation over the decades. Whether illustrating a lauded fashion designer’s catalogue of work over the years, a cutting-edge interior aesthetic that heralds the complete transformation of the house around it, or a cultural catchment for a certain type of decadent cuisine, the coffee table book reigns supreme.
There’s never been a better year to stay on the couch, tuck your feet underneath you, and leaf through a newly released book, no matter your tastes. As such, there’s never been a better time to plump up your collection of coffee table books. If you’re in the market for an addition to your tabletop, look no further. Pop culture aficionado? You’ve no doubt heard of The Rihanna Book. Miss socialising? An Entertaining Story will prepare you for the first opportunity to have people over to your home, and HUMANS, with its heart-warming and -wrenching portraits of ordinary lives, will tide you over until that moment. Those wanting to slake their thirst for fashion can drink deep from the wells of icons like Prabal Gurung, John Galliano, or Tonne Goodman, all of whom have recently published collections—or enjoy icons of black and queer design, in Supreme Models and CAMP, respectively.
And even though the official start of the holiday season is still a few months away, it’s never too early to start browsing, especially if you’re of a gift-giving spirit all year round. Here are some of the best tomes, published in the last year, with which to surprise and delight your friends and family.
1 / 15
Supreme Models: Iconic Black Models Who Revolutionized Fashion
Possibly the most concentrated, holistic look yet at the contributions of Black models to the fashion world, this vividly-told opus brings to light the monumental impact that Black women made and make on the industry. From the earliest cover stars like Iman and Donyale Luna to modern-day social media stars like Joan Smalls and Adwoa Aboah, celebrity stylist Marcellas Reynolds pays tribute to an under-documented side of fashion’s past, present, and future.
2 / 15
Prabal Gurung: Style and Beauty with a Bite
Known for dressing such luminaries as Beyonce, Gurung’s monograph is a visual spectacle. A guided tour through the mind of the man behind the label, its art chronicles for the first time the Nepalese designer’s personal journey from mood board to sketch to runway.
$67; available at Amazon
3 / 15
Great Women Artists
A faithful but off-the-beaten-track record of half a millennium of female creativity, more than four hundred works of art are explored in this engrossing volume. Championing a diversity of voices (more than 50 nationalities are featured) with a voice as loud as its bright yellow cover, the book covers artists from Yayoi Kusama to Leonora Carrington, Carmen Herra to Properzia de Rossi.
$78; available at The Book Depository
4 / 15
Ralph Lauren: In His Own Fashion
Ever the individualist, this illustrated biography of the renowned designer is for everyone, from the most fervid fan to the most casual consumer. No off-the-cuff coverage to be found here; this is an extensive but intimate reflection written by Alan Flusser, a fellow designer with as sharp an eye for story and detail as his subject, and was published last November as part of the designer’s 50th anniversary.
$55; available at Ralph Lauren or The Book Depository
5 / 15
The New Glamour: Interiors with Star Quality
Jeff Andrews has been inside the homes of such Hollywood stars as Kourtney Kardashian and Kaley Cuoco. Not only that, but he’s responsible for the interior design of those homes. With his trademark balance of elegance and extravagance, Andrews opens the door for his reader into a world of cinematic style and bold use of space. Cool California living? He invented the concept, and now you can bring it into your home.
$73; available at Amazon
6 / 15
CAMP: Notes on Fashion
You might have read the famous Sontag essay from 1964 on the subject—but this exhibition catalogue, drawing on the recent Met exhibition of the same name, fixes the elusive concept of “camp” in its crosshairs. An aesthetic that turns up its nose at the status quo, camp walks the tightrope between pop culture and high art. This book allows some of the world’s most famous designers, including Marc Jacobs, Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, and Vivienne Westwood, to take their best shot at defining the term for themselves and their audience.
$81; available at The Met Museum Store or The Book Depository
7 / 15
An Entertaining Story
Featuring a foreword by Brooke Shields, this treatise on how to host is penned by celebrated writer and interior designer India Hicks. A notoriously irreverent and charismatic host, the goddaughter to Prince Charles presents a new take on everything from private cocktail hours to opulent birthday parties. In between, she finds time to cover such social phenomena as the Panic Dinner (when a ravenous crowd of guests is about to descend on your unprepared abode) to a White Christmas in the Bahamas. Sprinkled with traditional English recipes, this book is sure to charm, inform, and amuse both readers and hosts alike.
$78; available at The Book Depository
8 / 15
John Galliano for Dior
The first publication to truly showcase the breathtaking designs that Galliano created for the House of Dior, Robert Fairer’s photographs are compiled to convey the glamour that drove and defined the label’s most fabled shows. A veritable treasure trove of collectors’ items, this retrospective puts into one book why Dior is considered one of the greatest fashion companies of all time.
$136; available at The Book Depository
9 / 15
1950s in Vogue: The Jessica Daves Years 1952-1962
One of only seven editors-in-chief in American Vogue’s history, Jessica Daves has remained one of fashion’s most enigmatic figures, but it was she who first catapulted the magazine into modernity. Organized in multifaceted, thematic chapters, 1950s in Vogue features carefully curated photographs, illustrations and page spreads from the Vogue archives.
$67; available at Amazon
10 / 15
Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech
Abloh, founder of the fashion brand Off-WhiteTM and men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, certainly wants you to get your money’s worth. This “three-books-in-one” volume explores the illustrious designer’s body of work through interviews with him and other key voices in high art, essays, and nearly 2,000 never-before-seen photographs. Emblematic of Abloh’s attitude towards museum catalogue, which is to “question everything,” his singular monograph features a unique recording exclusive to this collection.
$158; available at The Book Depository
11 / 15
Tonne Goodman: Point of View
One of Tonne Goodman’s mantras is, “This is happening for a reason.” Indeed, this book has happened for a reason—so you can get your hands on the inner workings of a storied career as the most illustrious fashion director Vogue has ever seen. Charting Goodman’s modelling days and journalism career, through her rapid rise to the top of the fashion world, this book manifests for the first time her inexplicable ability to pinpoint the nexus of celebrity and style again and again.
$67; available at Amazon
12 / 15
Living in Paradise: At Home in the Tropics: Bali, Java, Thailand
Homes that are surrounded by sweeping natural beauty and have consciously incorporated those lush settings into their interior environments fill this book. It features dwellings that open onto miles of beach or jungle, and rooms that are draped in bamboo, rattan, and ikat and batik textiles. The cold season doesn’t intrude into these homes, and you’ll feel warmer just flipping through these pages.
$72; available at Amazon
13 / 15
Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows
Clothed in an exquisite French fold jacket, Lagerfeld: The Chanel Shows documents with sincerity and energy the evolution of a label’s iconic fashion shows over a decade. All shot by English photographer Simon Procter, only one camera has had the access to shoot both the increasingly monumental spectacles on the catwalk alongside more candid preparations backstage.
$130, available at Amazon
14 / 15
Greco Disco: The Art & Design of Luke Edward Hall
More kaleidoscope than book, artist and designer Hall has put down in this book his secrets for playful and sophisticated housewares, ceramics, prints, jewelry, stationery and more. Inclusive of special features like fold-outs, sketchbook inserts, and die-cuts (“picture frames” cut out of the page), it’s an invitation to the young mega-talent’s eclectic mind, inspiration, and work.
$89; available at Amazon
15 / 15
Vogue on Location: People, Places, Portraits
Have fashion, will travel. Vogue’s international dispatches have captured stories in treasured corners of the globe; this book captures them, in the former of travel writing by such icons as Truman Capote, Frances FitzGerald, and Lee Miller, as well as editorials from photographers like Irving Penn, Arthur Elgort, and Annie Leibovitz. Sit back, relax, and let these legendary guides inspire you to fantasies of flight and freedom.
$80; available at Vogue or The Book Depository