What they're publishing about fashion Checklist: From boxers, to what Hollywood legends wore, to hair, an array of recent books offers fun and facts about style.

January 04, 1996|By Lisa Lytle | Lisa Lytle,ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Here's a look at some recent books on fashion or style:

* "A Brief History of Shorts" (Chronicle, $14.95) is by Joe Boxer, the company that started the tongue-in-cheek boxers craze. There is no Joe Boxer. But there is Nick Graham, president, CEO and occasional poster boy (in boxers, of course).

The book is downright silly and can sometimes be funny. In a page on future underwear designs, predictions include "virtual underwear: You think you're wearing underwear, but you're not," and one that actually came true -- "The Wonderbrief: Structurally designed pouch enhances the size of a man's package."

* "Star Style: Hollywood Legends as Fashion Icons" (Angel City Press, $23.95) by Patty Fox is for the American Movie Classics fan. Fox traces the styles of 10 famous women who epitomized Hollywood glamour, including Dolores Del Rio, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball and Joan Crawford.

Of Doris Day, she writes: "[Ray] Aghayan remembers having to redesign her 'Caprice' wardrobe three times, with the 42-year-old actress demanding that the clothes look younger, like those she had seen on the mods in London. Aghayan says he dressed her in the shortest skirts on the screen at the time, all grazing the knees." Sharon Stone, take note.

* "Chic Simple: Women's Wardrobe" (Knopf, $30) by Jeff Stone and Kim Johnson Gross is the latest installation in the popular yuppie coffee-table book series.

It's a primer for a woman who is looking not so much to develop a personal style as to know what pricey things will help cultivate an image of understated but conformist elegance. What can we say? The outfits seem cookie-cutter, but they're not called classics for nothing. And the best part: It's very difficult to go wrong in them.

* "Hair Style" (HarperCollins, $60) by Amy Fine Collins is a lavish companion book to "The Art of Makeup" by Kevyn Aucoin. This is a collection of highlights of elite hair stylists' work, many of whose names are likely to be botched by name-droppers. It's a subjective list, and many of the names are alien to people outside the fashion and beauty industries.

But most of the work featured is remarkable if you look beyond hair as something you wash, shampoo, condition and blow dry. Rather, the perspective is that hair is a medium for sculpture; for example, hair shaped like corals or birds' nests seem surrealistic in the hands of Orlando Pita or Didier Malige. Or it could just be one of those bad hair days.

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