Fashion and beauty books travel well on vacation. Many suggest beauty regimens that can be started more easily away from home and work -- and discarded if they don't accomplish anything.
Others, like the Fortuny book, need special care and savoring -- perhaps on your screened porch? -- away from the suntan grease and sands of vacation. Among the current best:
Mariano Fortuny: His Life and Work, by Guillermo de Osma, (Rizzoli, 216 pages, $29.98). Accompanying the resurgence of interest in Mariano Fortuny's pleated dresses and velvets (both the authentics sold at auction and the spin-offs) is this handsomely illustrated, absorbing biography of the Spanish artist. Known as the "Magician of Venice," Fortuny was a painter, set and lighting designer, engraver, photographer. He was awarded over 20 patents for is inventions, including one for the extraordinary pleated dress inspired by ancient Greek sculpture. It has never been perfectly duplicated and probably never will. The book limns both his private and professional life, including the evolvement of his textiles and costumes and the extraordinary women -- Isadora Duncan, Sarah Bernhardt, Lillian Gish and Dorothy Gish -- who wore them.
Fiorucci, The Book , by Eve Babitz, (Harlin Quist, $14.95). Appropriately a shiny-covered softback in dayglo colors with oversized print on glossy pages: the better to show off the striking Fiorrucci graphics, from posters to shopping bags. Fiorucci is Aldo Fiorucci, who started by introducing bright-color galoshes into his parents' ordinary Milan shoe shop and now has shops where everything -- jeans, T-shirts, outdoor gear -- is familiar, but nothing ordinary. (To get an idea of Fiorucci in actuality, try Commander Salamander in Georgetown.)
The Buyer's Guide to Cosmetics, by Patricia Boughton and Martha Ellen Hughes (Random House, 204 pages, $6.95).
About 500 women in 20 states were enlisted to try a broad range of commercially available products and evaluate them through a lengthy questionnaire.
Lipsticks were tested for five days, make-up for three weeks, treatment products even longer. Products are given performance and price ratings. But even more valuable are the suggestions for maximizing the use of a product. For example: "Wetting the skin before applying cleansing lotions is not only better for the skin but saves money by reducing the amount of product necessary to use." Even if you curb just one goof in a beauty-product purchase, you've been reimbursed by the price of this book.
The Traveling Woman, by Dena Kaye (Bantam, 365 pages $2.95). To be read before your vacation. Sound advice on what and how much to take, plus maintainence of what winds up in your suitcase. Some of her best ideas are in the don'ts: such as don't buy a new wardrobe for a trip and don't forget to really break in your walking shoes. Kaye knows someone who takes black satin sheets to darken hotel rooms, another who takes her own pillow case, and couple who line their suitcases with sealed packages of martinis in favorite proportions . . . one way to take the worry out of what to wear.
Skin Care Program for Men, by Mario Badescu (Everest House, 216 pages, $10.95). Because there are few books on skin care for men, this one by a skin-care specialist (also a chemist) is worth noting. He applies some of the sound principles we are used to in books for women, including nutrition and progressive sun tanning, and offers formulas -- some familiar and others new -- for making your own protective, cleansing and sun creams and masks with natural products.
Everything You Need to Know to Have Great Looking Hair, by Louis Gignac (Viking Press, 149 pages, $15.95). Louis Guy D, as Gignac is known in the fashion business, is a pet of magazine editors who for years have counted on him for hair styling of models, makeovers and advice to readers.
His book's information is specific and directions clear, whether the subject is proper use of the blow dryer or hair color. Gignac offers many natural alternatives to commercial treatments, which might be just the thing to try on vacation. Some are simple, such as using the water left over from cooking rice for a setting lotion, and others more complex, like a beef-marrow treatment for dry, damaged hair.
Selling Dreams, Inside the Beauty Business, by Margaret Allen (Simon and Schuster, 274 pages, $13.95). A quick look at the beauty business, touching on every known name, including the less written about Hazel Bishop, Mary Kay and Erno Lazlo. While suggested treatments are only skin deep, the vicissitudes of the business make fascinating reading.