Best books of 2021: Style

What Artists Wear
by Charlie Porter, Penguin £14.99

“Artists are often revered for their style,” writes art critic (and occasional FT contributor) Porter, citing the American painter Georgia O’Keeffe and British sculptor Barbara Hepworth. This hand-sized tome is not merely an assemblage of photos; Porter ventures into studios and wardrobes, investigating what artists’ choice of garments can tell us about their work, their personalities and the societies in which they lived.

Black Ivy: A Revolt in Style
by Jason Jules, Reel Art Press £39.95/$49.95

When one thinks of “Ivy League style”, one thinks of young men in white socks and loafers, varsity jackets and well-cut chinos, as captured in the 1960s style bible, “Take Ivy”. But such garments were also a means for that decade’s black writers, artists and activists “to demonstrate that equality which had been so fiercely denied them in other ways”, Jules writes in his thoughtful, beautifully illustrated book.

Versace Catwalk: The Complete Collections
by Tim Blanks, Thames & Hudson £55/Yale University Press $75

It is not often that a coffee table paean to a fashion brand addresses one of its designers’ drug problems in the opening chapter, but fashion critic Blanks is not one to mince his words. The book gives a well-illustrated account of 40 years of catwalk collections, charting Gianni Versace’s rise to fame prior to his murder in 1997; his sister Donatella’s early struggles to succeed him; and the house’s eye-popping $2.1bn sale to US luxury conglomerate Capri Holdings in late 2018.

Books of the Year 2021

All this week, FT writers and critics share their favourites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Business by Andrew Hill
Tuesday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Wednesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Thursday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Friday: History by Tony Barber
Saturday: Critics’ choice

Join our online book group on Facebook at FT Books Café

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