Book List of the Week

The Nuances of How I Feel: Christian Lacroix’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter July 5, 2011
Christian Lacroix

Fashion designer Christian Lacroix (Paris)

book list

Like his acclaimed couture designs, the life and career of Christian Lacroix can be described as sumptuously adventurous, explosively colorful, grandly visionary, and endlessly inventive. “I never loved the world around me as it was,” he says, reminiscing about his childhood in a recent interview with The Guardian (London). “I re-designed it all in my own style.”*

The key elements of his style—which synthesize ethnic details, references from French and fashion history, Mediterranean-influenced palettes, and an appreciation and respect for local artisanship—show up in his signature use of vibrant colors and prints and voluminous silhouettes. His introduction of the “pouf” skirt in 1987 was an industry-changing event at the time and remains today a definitive moment in the history of fashion. In addition to his designs for clothing and accessories, Lacroix has created opera sets, illustrated a fairy tale, curated exhibitions and—most recently— designed a line of furniture.

Lacroix the reader is as wide-ranging as Lacroix the designer. His delightfully long list of titles (23!) for Designers & Books is filled with personal anecdotes and illuminating recollections. (He bought his first book with pocket money when he was ten years old; another book on Spain and bullfights with a cover lithograph after Picasso, given as a Christmas gift to his father by his grandmother, is “one of my most treasured possessions to this day.” About the work of French journalist Patrick Mauriès, with whom Lacroix has co-authored several books, he confesses that he is drawn to it because it “captures the nuances of how I feel.”

The book list reveals Lacroix the former student of literature and art history and includes works by Jean Cocteau, Georges Perec, and Joseph Delteil (a “source of enchantment”), as well as collections of Richard Avedon and Irving Penn photographs.

There are also books that reflect an interest in philosophy (“Barthes is the one philosopher of my generation to write eloquently about fashion, photography, and the visual arts”); highlight a love of things English (Cecil Beaton) or an admiration for American design (Alexey Brodovitch); and uncover a penchant for browsing in New York’s secondhand bookstores (which led him in the 1970s to Brendan Gill’s Happy Times).

Whether designing, reading, or writing, Lacroix gives us the widely imagined and the deeply felt.

*Elizabeth Day, “Christian Lacroix: ‘I am not nostalgic for the past,’”, February 13, 2011.

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