By Holly E. Thomas
Sunday, December 26, 2010; W08
If your holiday wish list included some quiet time with a good book, you're in luck -- at least as far as the books are concerned. The latest style and design tomes offer up a visual feast of color, creativity and inspiration. Here are our picks for six stylish titles; as for the quiet time, well ... maybe in the new year.
Loaded with sketches, full-color illustrations and vintage advertising, David Downton's "Masters of Fashion Illustration" combines imagery with history in a coffee-table-friendly format. Downton, a contemporary fashion illustrator, offers up insightful takes on his predecessors, ranging from Art Deco master Erté to poster artist Bob Peak. $50 at bookstores; also available from online booksellers.
Dress designer Mary Adams penned this how-to guide to offer an alternative to buying off the rack. "The Party Dress Book: How to Sew the Best Dress in the Room" comes packed with tips and tricks to create your own unique frock, along with a full-size pattern that can adjusted for sizes 4 to 14. $24.99 at bookstores; also available online.
From the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "100 Dresses" features page after page of swoon-worthy concoctions from bold-faced names including Elsa Schiaparelli, Hubert de Givenchy and Cristóbal Balenciaga. The real treat, however, is the glimpse of early 20th-century designs by Paul Poiret, Jeanne Lanvin and Madame Grès. $24.95 at bookstores; also available online.
Peek inside the private homes of Donna Karan, Carolina Herrera and other luminaries of style with "American Fashion Designers at Home," a collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Inside, Ralph Lauren's dining room and Carlos Miele's sun deck showcase the design connection between the real world and the runway. $65 at bookstores; also available online.
Need a cure for the wintertime blues? Interiors guru Jonathan Adler created a hardback series aimed at the DIY design crowd. A quick flip through "Happy Chic Colors" and "Happy Chic Accessorizing" will help spruce up your spirits and your sitting room. $17.95 at bookstores; also available online.