the best gift books

A passport to Avenue Montaigne elegance, Dior Couture (Rizzoli) with text by Ingrid Sischy, features Patrick Demarchelier incandescent images of embroidered chiffon evening dresses and sculptural jewel-toned suits.

For darker romantics, there are the errie cinematic tableaux found in Deborah Turbeville: The Fashion Picture (Rizzoli) or the McQueen-stuffed closets of Daphne Guinness (Yale University Press), with an interview by Valerie Steele probing the unique influence and chiaroscuro hair of the great fashion patron.

For art lovers, The Louvre: All the Paintings (Black Dog & Leventhal), by Erich Lessing and Vincent Pomarède, brings an entire museum collection to your bookshelf, while a trove of negatives at the Centre Pompidou is behind Man Ray: Portraits Paris Hollywood Paris (Schirmer/Mosel), edited by Clément Chéroux, a tribute to the Surrealist lensman and a generation of glamour.

For more contemporary tastes, there’s Dominique Nahas’s The Worlds of Hunt Slonem (Vendome Press), an eternal spring of exuberant birds and butterflies.

And for those who prefer their nature in an urban setting, Joshua David and Robert Hammond’s High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is an inspiring account by the two men whose vision brought the project to life.

Two Michelin-started chefs keep it (deliviously) real: Mario Batali’s Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours (Ecco) celebrates the piquant counterpoint lamb and clementine, pumpkin and anchovy.

Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes (Clark son Potter), by Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Genevieve Ko, offer such soothing dishes as parmesan-crusted chicken and fresh corn-pudding cake.

On the sweeter side, there’s Ginette Mathiot’s classic The Art of French Baking (Phaidon), edited by Clotilde Dusoulier (think Tarte Tatin), and Christina Tosi’s future classic Momofuku Milk Bar (Clarkson Potter), a “sugar manifesto” of cereal-milk ice cream and candy-bar pie.

For the men in your life, we recommend Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1919 (Knopf), the well-connected dimplomat’s gimlet-eyed view of a teetering Belle Epoque Europe–or, on the American cultural stage, the late John Updikes’s Higher Gossip: Essays and Criticism (Knopf) and Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstasy of Influence: Nonfiction, Etc. (Doubleday).

For a close friend, Anita Desai’s The Artist of Disappearance (HMH) offer an India-set trio of quietly lyrical novellas, while P.D. Jame’s Austen rewrite Death Comes to Pemberley (Knopf) throws a corpse into the marriage plot.

And one can’t go wrong with an uncorrupted classic, deftly redesigned for twenty-first-century readers: A deluxe boxed set of The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights (Penguin Classics), translated by Malcolm C. Lyons, brings the adventures of Sindbad and Ali Baba to a new generation, and J.M. Barrie’s The Annotated Peter Pan (W.W. Norton & Company) conjures fresh wonderment with the help of scholar Maria Tatar. Magic carpet and fairy dust sold separately.

© Vogue Magazine December 2011

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