The Classicist: The Best of Luxe Books
For your reading and viewing pleasure we present the second in a series looking back at highlights from the first year of The Classicist, the weekly column devoted to timeless style, enduring elegance, and true, built-to-last luxury as opposed to mere extravagance. For our second installment we sum up the best in luxe books, featuring our favorite subjects ranging from high equestrian style to classic architecture, historic estates, high society, jetsetters, megayachts and more. No truly luxurious library is complete without these volumes.
Gallery: Best of the Best: Books 2009
1. Equestrian Style: Home Design, Couture, and Collections from the Eclectic to the Elegant by Vicky Moon (Clarkson Potter)
Moon divides her volume into different facts of the equestrian experience: In the Field, On the Farm, At the Track, In the Ring, On the Move, and Down the Road, focusing on all facets of horsiness and everything that goes along with it. The emphasis is on authenticity, not affectation; she notes all that's really required is a "basic love of horses" but opines that actually riding them gives one a much stronger connection. True equestrian style, she writes, is "more than a feisty, wet Jack Russell terrier, a pair of Wellington boots and a tweed jacket. It goes beyond hanging a hunting print in the dining room wall to actually leaping over a stone wall on your favorite hunter. An unspoken equestrian philosophy surpasses wearing an Hermes scarf; it celebrates riding over jumps in an Hermes saddle."
Gallery: Equestrian Style
2. The Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills by Jeffrey Hyland (Rizzoli)
A meticulously researched and lavishly illustrated history of 50 magnificent estates in three world-famous enclaves of the ultra-wealthy - Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, and Holmby Hills - this is a definitive history of the area's most famous estates, "the architecturally spectacular homes and lavish grounds that have been home to countless celebrities and the world's richest families for almost a century." Aside from the purely visual pleasure of the photographs both old and new, Hyland explains the history and architectural importance of each estate, and tells the fascinating stories of the many famed owners, from their "passionate involvement in the design of these costly properties, to their intrigues, triumphs, calamities, and romances."
Gallery: Legendary Estates of Beverly Hills
3. Great Estates: The Lifestyles & Homes of American Magnates by William G. Scheller (Universe)
This oversized, lavishly illustrated volume celebrates the history of 40 of America's true barons of business, from the 1700s through this year's Forbes list, and opens the door into their private palaces along the way. Great Estates follows the "restless careers of our most brilliant and driven merchants, industrialists, and financiers as they mastered a new economic world of textiles, railroads, oil, and steel." Men of great fortune erected massive monuments to their success, inclduing Henry Clay Frick's Manhattan mansion, now a magnificent museum; William Randolph Hearst's San Simeon in California, aka Hearst Castle; and one of our personal favorites, railroad magnate Jay Gould's gothic castle on the Hudson River, Lyndhurst and more.
Gallery: Magnates' Great Estates
4. Luxury Toys: Mega Yachts from teNeues
In the rarefied world of mega yachts, the ultimate achievement is to have one designed by a certain Norwegian genius named Espen Oeino. The world's top star in naval architecture, Oeino's megabucks creations "combine the precision of fine machinery with indulgent finishes and the high-end amenities of a palace." When German luxury publisher teNeues opted to focus a volume in its amazing Luxury Toys series to the world's greatest yachts, it was quickly decided to dedicated the entire book to Oeino. The book showcases 20 of his stellar creations, including Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's 413-ft. Octopus, the 8th largest yacht in the world and the second largest superyacht that is not owned by a head of state.
Gallery: Luxury Toys: Mega Yachts
Continued after the jump.
5. Stanford White, Architect by Samuel G. White, Elizabeth White and Jonathan Wallen (Rizzoli)
White, the visionary head of famed firm McKim, Mead & White, was arguably the most celebrated American architect of his day and a "defining figure of the so-called Gilded Age." Wallen comprehensively explores White's "sumptuously rich oeuvre," from his own residences on Long Island and in Gramercy Park, to the "extraordinary and opulent" houses such as the incredible Rosecliff in Newport (see the gallery) and the Villard Houses and Payne Whitney mansion in New York City. It also includes the lavish private clubs he designed such as the Century Association, the old Madison Sqaure Garden and Tiffany & Co., churches, monuments and more.
Gallery: Stanford White, Architect
6. High Society: The History of America's Upper Class by Nick Foulkes (Assouline)
Beginning with the early 17th century, Foulkes focuses on the famous families - the Vanderbilts, Fricks, Morgans, and Astors among them - who came to embody the American aristocracy. He also plots the social trajectory all the way to the present day, and heiresses such as the famed Miller Sisters, aka Pia Getty, Princess Alexandra von Furstenberg and Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, pictured on the book's cover. Of course, you first have to accept Foulkes' premise that America does in fact have a class system, even if the current recession has painfully demonstrated that no one should take their positions for granted while Barack Obama's ascendancy proved that traditional barriers are no longer as formidable.
Gallery: High Society
7. Gypset Style by Julia Chaplin (Assouline)
Gypsy + Jetset = Gypset, proffers Chaplin in presenting a super-stylish Baedeker to those who "fuse the wild and unconventional ethos of a gypsy with the sophistication and speed of the jet set." Most of them are exceptionally good-looking and have money, of course, but even those with obscene amounts of the stuff are anything but ostentatious. Most are also relatively unknown, but numbered among their ranks are the likes of designer and "daughter of Mick" Jade Jagger, British fashion designer Alice Temperley, and even bad boy Brit artist Damien Hirst and his partner, Californian surfer / designer Maia Norman, who make it by virtue of their houseboat moored on the Thames in London. Together they form "an international community of artists, designers, surfers, and bon vivants who live and work around the globe."
Gallery: Gypset Style
Previously: The Best of Men's Style