Icons and illustrations
I have accepted that I will never be invited to one of Vogue magazine’s fashion galas held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the “fashion party of the season”—not even as a grubby journalist or plus-one. But now I have a consolation prize: Vogue & the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute—Parties, Exhibitions, People (Abrams, Sept.) by Vogue International editor at large Hamish Bowles and edited by Chloe Malle, the magazine’s social editor. This beautiful book concentrates on the exhibitions and galas of the 21st century, including the 2005 show Chanel and the blockbuster 2011 exhibition devoted to Alexander McQueen, Savage Beauty. The stories and coverage of the balls and the expositions come from Vogue’s extensive archives and showcase the photographic work of icons Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel; the fashion/editorial vision of Vogue editors such as Grace Coddington and Tonne Goodman; a foreword by the director and CEO of the Met, Thomas P. Campbell; and an introduction by Anna Wintour herself. That’s some pretty swell company, and I don’t even have to worry about what to wear!
Another thing I have finally come to terms with is that Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain is really dead—20 years gone, unbelievably. Kurt Cobain: The Last Session (Thames & Hudson, Nov.; Prepub Alert, 4/14/14) by photographer Jesse Frohman and others (more about them later) is a lovely homage to the troubled Cobain, who committed suicide in April 1994. The book’s 90 photos—25 in color, some never before published—are from what would turn out to be Cobain’s last professional photo shoot, and they’re accompanied by an interview that “punk historian” Jon Savage (author of Teenage) conducted with Cobain for a 1993 article in London’s Observer Magazine as well as additional editorial by Glenn O’Brien, a fashion/music/art chronicler with an impressive pedigree (Interview, Rolling Stone, Oui, High Times, GQ, etc. etc.!).
My only fiction pick this fall is based on a true story: that of songwriter-for-hire Cynthia Weil, who won a ton of Grammys and penned (with her husband and writing partner, Barry Mann) such 1960s hits as “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin,’ ” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” and “On Broadway,” to name just a few. I’m Glad I Did (Soho Teen, Jan. 2015) is Weil’s first novel, and if it’s as catchy as even one of her songs, it’s sure to be a No. 1 hit. The publicist’s elevator pitch goes like this: “YA Mad Men with murder, set in the legendary Brill Building.” Did I mention that Weil worked with music producer, songwriter, and convicted murderer Phil Spector? Hmmm.
Also upcoming are two witty and wonderful illustrated works: 101 Two-Letter Words (Norton, Oct.) features singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt’s (of Magnetic Fields) odes to all the two-letter words allowed in the Scrabble and Words with Friends games. Each poem by Merritt is accompanied by an illustration by New Yorker cartoonist extraordinaire Roz Chast. That’s a duo to be reckoned with! Then unsung enablers of greatness, including Andy Warhol’s mom, Dostoyevsky’s wife, and Harper Lee’s patrons, finally get their 15 minutes in The Who, the What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate the Secret Sidekicks of History (Chronicle, Nov.).—Liz French