I love the idea of a “coffee table” book. My favorite reads centerstage on display, it’s the perfect way to combine inspiration and beautiful decor.
Maari Christante of Fight Song Studio sees this value in coffee table books, too. “They have an incredible purpose in our value in our world and in our home,” she writes in a blog post on “7 Benefits of Coffee Table Books.” Maari calls these hefty collections “as functional as they are beautiful” and “inspirational as they are informative,” and readers know that in our increasingly digital world, it is nice to sit down with a physical book.
But why coffee table books, these oversized books filled with pictures? They are actual books. Though many of these titles end up unread but beautiful additions to people’s homes, there are writers and designers behind them compiling thee collections of art or fashion or food or really any topic you can think of. There truly is a coffee table book for everyone.
Coffee table books are an obvious centerpiece. Even if you only flip through it a little at a time, the massive amount of content in your average coffee table book is incredible! This is especially true of fashion books full of everything from sketches to runway photos. What’s better than a collection of outfit inspiration that is as beautiful as it is interesting? But, like anything, all coffee table books are not made equal, so here are some of my favorites from my coffee table to yours.
The Monique Lhuillier Book: Dreaming of Fashion and Glamour
Cue “This is What Dreams are Made of” by Hilary Duff. This book is an haute couture wonderland. The Monique Lhuillier Book takes the reader on a journey through the magnificent world of fashion as Monique Lhuillier gives insight into her dreamy collections, runway shows, iconic clients, and life stories. Not exactly an empty book, huh?
Monique Lhuillier started her line with a few wedding dresses at a trade show in New York City, and through the years, her passion, designs, and determination have led to a whole Lhuillier dreamland of couture dresses. Is it any wonder Monique Lhuillier has a store on Madison Avenue? (You can also find these real-life gowns in Los Angeles at Melrose Place and in Orange County, California at South Coast Plaza.)
Coffee table books have a reputation for being expensive, but I actually found my copy of this book at a thrift store in NYC, and it’s signed by Monique Lhuillier herself! Opening up this work of art and reading each chapter gives a beautiful sense of this designer’s knowledge and foothold in the fashion world as she reflects on 25 incredibly years in the industry. Plus, the book is filled with pages and pages of out-of-this-world designs.
What really makes this book worthwhile for the aspiring fashionista and the dedicated designer is that Monique Lhuillier celebrates special moments with her designs and how she turns her inspirations into ready-to-wear runway collections for New York and Paris Fashion Weeks and fantasy location lookbook photoshoots in France and Italy. It is also a showcase of celebrity fashion full of glamorous gowns for icons like Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Carson, Beyoncé, and Michelle Obama. This is a coffee table book to get lost in.
Christian Siriano: Dresses to Dream About
In another Rizzoli coffee table book, Christian Siriano takes the reader through the design and creation process of some of his most memorable gowns of the last several years. Full of world-class fashion, this book also highlights Christian Siriano’s dance background. Before he became a well-known designer, Christian was a ballet dancer, in love with the whirlwind glam and fashion of ballet. Because of this, he shares his thoughts on being a visual storyteller and how many of his designs are inspired by the silhouettes of ballet and theater costumes.
From “Watercolor Ballerina” to “Ombre Bouquet” to “Midnight Swan,” this book provides a behind-the-scenes look at so many standout dresses. Christian Siriano says, “Every collection I do has a story behind it, a theme that fuels my imagination. It’s storytelling without words. The backstage of my fashion shows now isn’t very different from the experience of being in the wings of the ballet performances I grew up loving.”
My favorite look explored in the book is the “Sweet Swift” tulle dress with delicate crystal embroidery. Originally debuting in Christian Siriano’s Spring 2011 runway collection, the dress found its place in the spotlight when it appeared in Taylor Swift’s Wonderstruck fragrance campaign. Gorgeous. We love a tulle moment.
In this stylish read, Christian Siriano brings his fashion visions to life. I love to see the details of the process of a gown coming to life from sketches to patterns to fabrics and garment samples. Plus, you get to see the atelier team working together to make it a reality. I believe the process in which a dress takes form really is art being created. This coffee table book is a fashoinista’s hoy grail! Each page has a dress to dream about!
Lighter than your average copy table book, but a sparkling must-read all the same, Showstopper Magazine is, of course, one of my favorites. This magazine is filled with a lot of dance meets fashion inspiration, with attention to everyday looks as much as the red carpet and runway looks that the previous titles I’ve mentioned celebrate.
The Spring 2022 issue of America’s #1 teen dance magazine is “Back 2 Dance.” In stores and online now, the issue takes inspiration from Y2K fashion icon Olivia Rodrigo as it explores chasing your dreams and appreciating the many ways the dance world touches our lives.
If you’re in the mood for everyday looks and on-topic trends, Showstopper Magazine is a great place to get handpicked looks and unique insights on the latest in dance and fashion. With two new issues each year, it’s the “coffee table book” that keeps on giving!
Coffee table books are pieces of artwork! Entrepreneur calls them “storytellers.” I couldn’t agree more with this, “They are precise, crisp, and include narratives that inspire.” And they have so many carefully curated pictures! After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. So choose a book that captures your interests and passion, and don’t be afraid to crack open those beautiful coffee table books!
What fashion books and magazines do you look to for inspiration? Tag me (@royalcouturexo) and Showstopper (@goshowstoppermagazine) on social media with the hashtag #RoyalCoutureXShowstopper to share your favorites.