Carrying a little holiday weight can be a good thing this season—and by that we mean if you're gifting a loved one a stunning coffee table book, whether they're cracking the pages or simply using it as interior design. What's more, some of the fall's new releases are conveniently multi-use: Grace Coddington's latest, for example, fits the bill for both a toddler with an appreciation for illustrations of orangutans, and a budding fashionista who can pick up on the real-life lessons Coddington has embedded in the success story of her flame-haired, primate avatar. Finish up all of your holiday shopping with a look at this season's most promising new titles, which have a bit of something for everyone—from those whose interests lean more towards social justice to those for whom a beautiful spray of flowers is an end in itself. And if you're just getting started on your holiday shopping? Check out all of W’s ultimate gift guides, here.
Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life
We get it: the sound of weathering the lines for the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's retrospective that's currently traveling the world sounds intimidating. (Or, as one visitor to its L.A. edition put it, even "harrowing.") Thankfully, there's another way to take in some of the work that Kusama, now 89, has produced since joining the avant-garde art scene in the 1950s—though it's a bit hard to fit all of that, with its styles ranging all the way from pop art to minimalism, in one book. Rather than put together a full-on retrospective, then, the art historian Jenni Sorkin opted to hone in on Kusama's 2017 exhibition at David Zwirner's gallery in New York, which the gallery itself rechristened "The Ultimate Instagram Exhibit." Featuring dozens of paintings from Kusama's My Eternal Soul series, hundreds of her signature polka dots, and not one, but two of her infinity rooms, it drew 75,000 visitors in total—even with its 60-second viewing limits and six-hour wait times.
Buy now: Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life, $70, davidzwirnerbooks.com.
Balenciaga: Winter 18
Two years into his tenure at Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia enlisted a group of models to encircle a graffitied hill of fake snow in Paris to debut his fall/winter 2018 collection—one striking enough to officially establish both his reputation outside of his own label, Vetements, and his reign over the house, whose legacy now includes perfectly oversized bags and hoodies. With the help of two of his photographer pals, Pierre-Ange Carlotti and Johnny Dufort, Gvasalia has now written a book detailing the collection's backstory, including his process of experimenting with 3D-printed tailoring and practically monumental feats of layering. (Marc Jacobs has been a particularly vocal fan of the latter; he now refers to outerwear he ordered the day after the show as his "happiest of coats.")
Buy now: Balenciaga: Winter 18, $95, balenciaga.com.
Somnaya Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness
Zanele Muholi might be the only one who appears in the nearly 100 black-and-white self-portraits featured in their long-awaited monograph, but none would have existed without the countless encounters Muholi has had with individuals over the course of the past decade, which they've spent advocating for proper representation of queerness and race. Muholi, who was born in Umlazi at the height of apartheid, now hopes that their portraits inspire others toward activism—or, as they put it, towards using "artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back."
Buy now: Zanele Muholi: Somnaya Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness, $60, aperture.org.
Joni: The Joni Mitchell Sessions Collectors Edition Book
The South African photographer Norman Seeff's subjects over the past few decades have included Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Patti Smith. Another one of his decades-long subjects, Joni Mitchell, has now gotten the book treatment, just in time for her 75th birthday. Its 200 pages recap over a dozen of Mitchell’s portrait sessions with Seeff, plus snapshots from the process of creating the covers of her albums Hejira (1976) and Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter (1977).
Buy now: Joni – The Joni Mitchell Sessions Collectors Edition Book, $650, normanseeff.com.
Vivian Maier: The Color Work
Since retreating from their hiding place across a spread of suitcases and boxes just over a decade ago, the photographs that the late Vivian Maier took over the course of her lifespan as a nanny-slash-covert photographer have been seemingly endlessly mined. Even so, these days, they're still turning up gold—and rather literally, given that the latest collection of her work is the first ever to be seen in color, instead of black-and-white.
Buy now: Vivian Maier: The Color Work, $64, harpercollins.com.
GingerNutz Takes Paris: An Orangutan Conquers Fashion
Two years after releasing a tome chronicling her decades of pioneering fashion editorials, Grace Coddington has returned with another, quite different memoir of sorts just in time for the holidays. While typically known for her love of cats, Coddington has lately turned her attention to an orangutan named GingerNutz, whose story of making it in the fashion world Coddington began telling last year. (In case you couldn’t tell from the orangutan’s head of flaming red hair, inspiration came from Coddington’s own career.) Once again told via illustrations by Coddington and text by Michael Roberts, the sequel follows up with GingerNutz now that she’s left the island of Borneo behind for the world of fittings and fashion week.
Buy now: GingerNutz Takes Paris: An Orangutan Conquers Fashion, $28, artbook.com.
The Eye: How the World’s Most Influential Creative Directors Develop Their Vision
Coddington is also among the nearly 100 mostly behind-the-scenes figures that Nathan Williams, the founder and creative director of Kinfolk magazine, pays homage to in The Eye, a guide to today's most influential tastemakers. It's also a guide of sorts for any aspiring photographer, designer, or stylist who looks up to names like Thom Browne, Marie-Amélie Sauvé, Karla Martinez, and Clare Waight Keller of Givenchy.
Buy now: The Eye: How the World’s Most Influential Creative Directors Develop Their Vision, $45, workman.com.
The David Casavant Archive
The only downside to introducing the fashion obsessive on your list to David Casavant's massive archives, which encompass years and years' worth of designs by, among others, Helmut Lang and Raf Simons, is that you're pretty much guaranteed to induce a serious case of jealousy. Casavant may have been a mere small child when most of the garments were produced, but the stylist-slash-collector, who was 14 and living in Tennessee when he first began taking eBay by storm, has amassed such a legendary display of fashion from the '90s to the early aughts that even Kanye West and Rihanna can't help but borrow from his closet. Like a true curator, rather than simply catalogue his collection, Casavant instead did so by inviting some of his favorite artists, including Stewart Uoo and Raúl de Nieves, to interpret it—even if they chose not to focus on the clothing. (For exhibit A, see above.)
Buy now: The David Casavant Archive, $28, amazon.com.
Ryan Korban: Interiors
There’s perhaps no better endorsement for an interior designer in fashion than Alexander Wang’s track record of consulting you for both the spaces in which he sells his wares—including during his tenure at Balenciaga—and his apartment. Whether or not you’ve heard of the name Ryan Korban, rest assured that his new monograph features more than enough images from the many other boutiques and apartments he’s transformed in New York City to captivate the design aficionado on your list.
Buy now: Ryan Korban: Interiors, $50, barneys.com.
Flowers for Lisa: A Delirium of Photographic Invention
Each and every year, for what ultimately felt like far too long, Abelardo Morell celebrated his wife Lisa's birthday by giving her a bouquet of flowers. When he dutifully picked up a new bunch in 2014, though, he decided to change things up. Morell, who's known for his camera obscura photography, instead repeatedly rearranged and photographed the flowers before superimposing the layers in Photoshop, making for a new, 2D type of bouquet that can be returned to for years.
Buy now: Flowers for Lisa: A Delirium of Photographic Invention, $33, amazon.com.
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