Fashion hasn't been the same since the new wave Japanese designers came on the scene. "They made all the commonplace standards of glamor and sexiness de mode," said Paris designer Karl Lagerfeld recently.
They also changed the way of fashion books. The photographs of Issey Miyake's designs in "East Meets West" and art director Eiko's "Eiko on Eiko" established a new genre.
The beautiful kimonos of Itchiku Kubota, presented in "Opulence," approaches that league. It shows how the textile artist uses tsujigahana, a 16th-century stitched tie-dye technique in modernized kimonos. Many are photographed on Washington-born model Gloria Burgess.
Also worth getting is a book on the phenomenon of Japanese fashion, "New Fashion Japan," by Leonard Koren. He traces the link between modern and traditional costumes and textiles, and focuses on a number of Japanese designers. Street photos support a popular theory that Japanese dress better than anyone.
* Certainly some of the best fashion-oriented gifts this season are the books of photographs. As expensive as a trendy accessory and far more long-lasting, several are already best sellers.
Bruce Weber is the current favorite of designers such as Calvin Klein (Weber created the sepia-toned series in New Mexico and the in-the-bed promotion of fragrance), Ralph Lauren and Karl Lagerfeld. His book, called "Bruce Weber" (at Lambda Rising), is more a collection of his photographs of pretty boys and girls than pictures of clothes. But since the clothes these days aren't wildly interesting, maybe that's a good thing.
On the other hand, photographer Horst's work spans that past era of fashion and photography, brilliantly integrated by this international photographer. The book, simply called "Horst," is his story, his observations and analyses, told by his friend Valentine Lawford, and it should be on the coffee table of everyone who cares about fashion.
The emphasis in Michael Doster's "Reflections" is strictly fashion. Doster is a very popular, very direct fashion photographer whose photos are used by many designers and appear in the best of the European catalogues. (Several photographs in the book are from a series he did for The Washington Post Magazine.)