The French sense of style is arguably unsurpassed and cementing this attribute further -within the pages of its many covetable books – is the heritage publisher Flammarion.
Founded in 1876 by Ernest Flammarion, the book publisher originally brought authors, such as Émile Zola, Maupassant, Jules Renard Hector Malot and Colette, to the attention of many. These days it is renowned for its wide range of beautifully illustrated titles. A leader in travel, fashion, design, food, art, photography and popular culture, the glossy books are among the few you want to have on show at home – with many being works of art in their own right. These are the sort of books you’ll find in the homes of Architectural Digest.
I’ve had the pleasure of being allowed a sneak peak into the Autumn 2017 Catalogue and was wowed by the wide collection of sumptuous titles, especially the travel collection, which not only immortalise the many wonders of the world around us, but portray the age-old glamour that is associated with the art of globetrotting.
Louis Vuitton: The Spirit of Travel by Patrick Mauriès and Pierre Léonforte (£22.50) is one such title and traces the evolution of Louis Vuitton’s most iconic designs – from signature travel trunk to monogrammed handbag. From Second French Empire pageantry to the brand’s Far East launch; from the classic LV travel chest to Nicolas Ghesquieres’s trunk-inspired collection; and from the house’s emblematic monogram to daring collaborations with contemporary artists, this book tells the story of Louis Vuitton – the luxury label that embodies the spirit of travel and quintessentially French elegance the world over.
The book – which is not available until 1 July 2017 – will appeal to travel aficionados as well as fashion lovers, and takes a look back at the Vuitton archives. It uncovers the brand’s rich history and its collaborations with artists as well, of course, as its golden relationship with travel.
My second pick from Flammarion (albeit from its archive list) is the Parisian Chic City Guide, by Ines de la Fressange with Elle fashion journalist Sophie Gachet (£12.95). Renowned as a fashion icon, made famous in the 80s the model, and later as the face of Chanel, opens up her little black book to bring us her insider addresses in the City of Lights.
Arranged by Parisian neighbourhoods, the stylish little tome uncovers her secret addresses for fashion, vintage, design and restaurants. Taking the reader – and traveller – on tour of the French capital, the pocket-sized guide divulges all her favourite haunts, such as the Japanese restaurant Hanawa near the Champs-Elysees. “Did you say hello to Demi Moore?” she writes. “She’s sitting in the back with Salma Hayek.”
Finally, and departing slightly from France, but showcasing one of my most favourite cities in the world is: Venice: An Illustrated Miscellany by Philippe Sollers (£22.50).
French writer Philippe Sollers celebrates the gilded city through personal anecdotes blended with historical and cultural details. The glossy coffee-table book is filled with gorgeous photography, artworks and anecdotes of the city’s relationship with cultural icons.
Within its pages the city’s rich cultural heritage is unravelled – from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice to the innovative Mostra Film Festival. It celebrates the writers, painters and musicians who have found inspiration in Venice – Lordy Byron and Ezra Pound, Monet and Tintoretto, Vivaldi and Stravinsky. It’s a unique homage to La Serenissima.
All books are published by Flammarion