The past year saw ink spilled on Karl Lagerfeld’s personal life, the relationship between masculinity and dress and the reprint of a Japanese menswear illustrator’s most celebrated work
As the year approaches its climax, it’s high time we checked in on the best menswear-related reads of 2022, whether that’s for your own holiday downtime or as potential gift-giving material for another. It’s a winning proposition in either case, as the past 12 months saw the publication of a doorstopper-sized guide to black tie, retrospectives on J. Press and Brioni and deep dives into Westernwear and gender. Read on for what to read next.
Modern Black Tie: A Guide
London bowtie maker La Bowtique partnered with the minds behind cerebral menswear magazine Valet to produce a tome that tracks contemporary eveningwear over the course of 300 photo-heavy pages. It addresses black tie’s past and present across 10 chapters dedicated to different aspects of the overall ensemble— “Jackets,” “Trousers,” “Shirts,” etc—and concludes with a directory of suppliers that can be counted on today. An introduction by Stephen Fry is in keeping with its wry, humorous tone.
Buy Now on La Bowtique: £40 (About $49)
Brioni Tailoring Legends
Brioni has, at last, received the Assouline treatment, via a volume that tracks the Roman tailor’s history across 264 lavishly illustrated pages annotated by fashion historian Olivier Saillard. Adding to its literary chops is an introduction by American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis.
Illustrated Ivy isn’t a book in conventional terms. Rather, it’s a charmingly packaged booklet and fold-out poster starring “Ivy Boy,” a character created in the 1960s by illustrator Kazuo Hozumi to instruct the readers of Japanese men’s magazines on the finer points of American Ivy Style. This reprint by UK art book publisher Herb Lester marks the first time that Hozumi’s accompanying text has been translated to English, and 60 years on its lessons are still worth learning.
Buy Now on Herb Lester: £12 (About $15)
Design historian Sonya Abrego takes a critical look at Westernwear’s place in the American wardrobe, just as pearl snaps at Stetson hats are again appearing on city streets. To get to the core of the trend’s appeal, Abrego examines its less-considered originators including the American working class, Western youth culture and Native Americans.
Karl Lagerfeld: A Life in Fashion
Although he spent decades in the public eye, Karl Lagerfeld’s personal life remained an enigma at the time of his passing in 2019. German journalist Alfons Kaiser set out to discover the late designer’s human side in this book, which chronicles Lagerfeld’s life from an obscure boyhood to the pinnacle of the fashion world.
Buy Now on Barnes & Noble: $30
Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear
The Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition closed in November, but can still be experienced through the pages of its same-named companion volume. The glossy, coffee-table-sized work is a visual feast but doesn’t shirk the exhibition’s intellectual side. To tell the story of how dress has established and challenged notions of masculinity over the millennia it contains essays touching on everything from Black British style to kimonos.
Threading the Needle Vol. 2
Cementing his role as the Dean of American Ivy Style, J. Press scion Richard Press has published another book of bite-sized memoranda ranging on topics from Shaggy dog sweaters to palling around with Frank Sinatra. Sandwiched between Press’s recollections are short appraisals by contemporary menswear luminaries including Jack Carlson, Jason Jules and Matt Hranek.
Status and Culture
Menswear is not the chief topic of Status and Culture. But in trying to answer the “mystery of culture” and how status-seeking determines our consumption habits and visual signaling, Ametora author W. David Marx finds himself investigating matters of personal taste and fashion. From the aesthetic sensibilities of old money WASPs to the collecting habits of hardcore sneakerheads, Marx’s revelations may shine a light on your own acquisitiveness.