[Pictured: American Fashion Menswear (Assouline Publishing) by Robert E. Bryan available from $31.50 at Amazon.com.]
"America was my fashion school." - Ralph Lauren
Somwhere in between a dense coffee table book and a collection of thoughful essays lies Robert E. Bryan's, Assouline Publishing's and the Council of Fashion Designers of America's new tome on menswear. This book was released back in September and got considerable mainstream and niche press, especially considering its subject matter. I'd had my eye on it for a while and finally picked it up as a little holiday present for myself (as one of my close friends always says, "An I love me gift never hurts"). Available at most mainstream book retailers, American Fashion Menswear is the most comprehensive piece of sartorial literature I have ever owned. I know some of you who have experience reading works by Flusser, etc. will probably speak contrary to that previous statement, but nonetheless I found Bryan's work to be extremely informative and enjoyable.
The book is broken down into distinct sections of American style, ranging from Ivy to Workwear to Sportswear, etc. Each section starts off with a well thought out essay detailing the specific influences and origins of that particular style, utilizing references of both past and present. Bryan's encyclopedic knowledge of brands and garments is truly fascinating and he weaves together a comprehensive, yet light "essay" on each represented genre. After providing the reader with both background and context, visual images are used to support the written word. Rare and archival images, accompanied by efficent notes, make up the remainder of the chapter. The photos really round out each chapter and feature shots from the runway, celebrities, lookbooks, icons, etc.
I know it is a little late to be adding gifts to your wishlist, but for anyone interested in menswear, and specifically American style, this book is a can't miss. At the very least head down to your local Barnes and Noble and spend an afternoon flipping through. I read through the book in one sitting, but already find myself returning to specific passages and images for inspiration. For around 30 bucks you can secure an invaluable resource that is just at home on your coffee table as it is in your personal library. That's pretty much all I can ask for when it comes to my books.