Gift books with a look

December 17, 1992|By Mary Gottschalk | Mary Gottschalk,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

If you're just shifting into shopping gear and in a quandary as to what the fashionable woman or man on your list might want, head for a bookstore. Some wonderful books dealing with fashion and style have been published this year and here's a look at my favorites:

"Jewels of Fantasy: Costume Jewelry of the 20th Century"

Edited by Deanna Farneti Cera ($85, Harry Abrams)

The price is steep, but not as steep as the value of many of the pieces inside this book, which will please any lover of baubles. Divided into chapters covering various eras, many of which overlap, the book offers many surprises and interesting tidbits. We think of yin-and-yang jewelry as a '70s development, but there is a striking Bakelite pin depicting the symbols from around 1930. Also fascinating are the early patriotic pieces, including an eagle sitting atop the word "remember" with a pearl below it and then the word "harbor," from 1942.

The book is a visual treat, especially some of the illustrations by Giovanni Gastel in which pieces of jewelry are juxtaposed over sepia-tone photographs to create striking montages. On the technical side, the book includes many manufacturer's marks, a good glossary and an informative section dealing with jewelry materials and techniques.

"Flair: Fashion Collected by Tina Chow"

By Richard Martin and Harold Korda ($40, Rizzoli)

If you're already aware of Tina Chow and the influence she had on the fashion world during her too brief life, this book is a joy. If you don't know who Chow was, it's a great introduction to this remarkable woman, who died in January of AIDS.

Tona Chow first gained attention as the stylish wife of restaurateur Michael Chow, but soon she was well-known in her own right as a collector of couture fashion, a muse for many clothing designers and then a designer of jewelry. This book focuses on the cream of her collection, which rivals that of many museums. It also takes it a step further by including patterns and sketches that help you understand how some of these amazing outfits are made.

"Salvatore Ferragamo: The Art of the Shoe 1898-1960"

By Stefania Ricci ($45, Rizzoli)

If you think of shoes as simply coverings for the feet, this book will expand your vision. It also illustrates why Ferragamo's name is often used as a synonym for the word shoes.

This book is rich in color photographs of shoes, such as the "invisible sandal" he created in 1947 -- using transparent fishing line to create a shoe that seems to float beneath the foot -- and the 1930 shoe with a pyramid motif on the front and an inverted pyramid-shape heel.

The book also touches on Ferragamo's time in Hollywood, when he was known as "shoemaker to the stars," and includes some interesting trivia tidbits (in the famous scene in "The Seven Year Itch" in which Marilyn Monroe stands over a grate, she's wearing Ferragamo shoes).

"The Art and Craft of Jewelry"

By Janet Fitch ($25, Grove Weidenfeld)

Unlike "Jewels of Fantasy," which primarily dazzles, this book takes you behind the stones and settings and tells you how to make jewelry. If you're thinking kiddie crafts, think again.

There are some very sophisticated pieces featured in a variety of media from wood, glass and ceramics to plastics and resins. This book can serve as both an inspiration and a challenge to jewelry lovers.

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