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.