New books offer snapshots of fame, fashion, felines and fantasy

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

“Hollywood Cats”

(ACC Distribution, $45)

When the Hollywood studios took over the wilds of Los Angeles in the 1930s, the backlots, soundstages and production offices became a playground for stray kittens and cats. More than tolerated, they were catered to with feeding stations around the properties. Hundreds were born on the grounds, and they nudged their way into the hearts of stars and staff — and sometimes into Hollywood history, as did the gray tabby that sits on Marlon Brando’s knee in “The Godfather.” Fan magazines even ran stories about the most famous fur balls, including Orangey, who played Holly Golightly’s “Cat” in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

Now these lucky felines are the subject of a new book, “Hollywood Cats” (ACC Editions, $45) by Gareth Abbott and Simon Crocker. The cuddly compilation of vintage photography from the Golden Age of Hollywood features stars, including Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, Carole Lombard and Cary Grant, with the nameless strays who ruled the studios, as well as more celebrated cats such as MGM’s famous lion, Leo.

— Booth Moore

“Jeremy Scott”

by Jeremy Scott and Jeffrey Deitch

(Rizzoli, $85)

Los Angeles-based designer Jeremy Scott is having his moment in the sun. Since the late 1990s, the fashion rabble-rouser has dressed nearly every celebrity in the pop-culture pantheon (Miley! Kanye! Katy!) in cheeky designs from his namesake label, as well as in track suits and teddy-bear sneakers from his collection for Adidas Originals. In October 2013, he was appointed creative director of Italian fashion house Moschino, where he has brought his witty pop culture commentary to the runways with collections reflecting on how fast food meets fast fashion and the Barbie beauty ideal.

Now he’s getting his due in a monograph, “Jeremy Scott” (Rizzoli, $85), with a foreword by art world titan Jeffrey Deitch. The glossy, 276-page coffee-table book is a window into Scott’s whimsical fantasy world. The images, which span his career, are organized around his influences and references, including logos, surrealism, food and politics. Included are snapshots taken in his studio and backstage at runway shows, photos of performers onstage wearing his clothes, and magazine spreads by photographers such as Inez and Vinoodh, Steven Meisel, Ellen von Unwerth, David LaChapelle and Terry Richardson that put Scott’s work in context.

— Booth Moore

“Dressing for the Dark: From the Silver Screen to the Red Carpet”

by Kate Young

Over the years, celebrity stylist Kate Young has worked with a who’s who of glamorous Hollywood, creating unforgettable red carpet looks for Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Rachel Weisz, to name a few.

But in her new book, “Dressing for the Dark: From the Silver Screen to the Red Carpet,” she offers the rest of us evening-wear inspiration just in time for holiday party season, using images from the movies and the red carpet as a guide. Who wouldn’t want to look like Eva Green in that sexy, black cutout, bondage-inspired gown in “Casino Royale” or Elizabeth Taylor in one of the most iconic little white dresses of all time in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”?

The book has chapters on the cocktail dress, the sexy dress, the statement dress, the black dress and the formal dress. Each category is illustrated with examples from films (Joan Crawford in “Grand Hotel,” Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”) and from actresses Young has dressed for the Oscars and other glam events. Also included are photos of what a great pair of black pumps looks like, for example, or a modern update on a 1950s cocktail dress. In other words, classics you can shop for any time.

— Booth Moore

“Celebrity Cocktails”

by Brian Van Flandern with photographs by Harald Gottschalk

(Assouline, $50)

There’s more than one way to zest a lemon, and with “Celebrity Cocktails,” mixologist Brian Van Flandern shakes up the standard-issue cocktail compendium by linking each recipe with a Hollywood film or film star such as Charlie Chaplin and Sandra Bullock. Some pairings are no-brainers — like name-checking Daniel Craig’s James Bond for the Vesper Martini, noting Sarah Jessica Parker’s role in popularizing the Cosmopolitan, and “The Big Lebowski” getting a shout-out alongside a White Russian recipe. Others are a little more tenuous — like the inclusion of a Sazerac because a character orders it in a New Orleans brothel in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” But the recipes are simple, easy to follow and garnished with a liberal sprinkling of fun facts. Who knew there was a type of martini glass named Nick & Nora? Or that Orson Welles gets credit for popularizing the Negroni in the U.S? These elements make “Celebrity Cocktails” worth having on hand, especially if you find yourself on the hook to host movie night.

— Adam Tschorn

“The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip”

by David Campany

(Aperture Foundation, $65)

The road as photographer’s muse? That’s the premise of “The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip,” a voyage David Campany begins by tracing the history of the road trip as a photographic genre from the 1906 Photo-Auto Guide book series to Doug Rickard’s 2010 photo screen shots of Google Street View images. Each of the 18 chapters that follow is a self-contained road trip focusing on the works of a different photographer.

These excursions include ride-alongs with Robert Frank (“The Americans”), Garry Winograd (“1964”) and William Eggleston (“Los Alamos”). All of the images, from Inge Morath’s rural Albuquerque cemetery framed against the mountains to the deserted service station of Justine Kurland’s “Highway Kind,” seem to share the same quality: They’re hauntingly beautiful and full of loneliness — even the frames that are filled with people. Another trait in common: Although many of them were taken in the ‘60s and ‘70s, even the photos shot in the last few years have a feeling of long-ago, faraway nostalgia, as if the wide-open spaces of the American freeway have been co-opted by the close-up road selfie that’s become the currency of the information superhighway.

Part of the joy of taking a road trip is being able to fix one’s place on the map — where you’ve been, where you’re going and where you’re headed. That makes the series of U.S. maps at the back of the book — one per featured photographer — especially enjoyable. Each map is marked with a series of pins noting where each photo was taken: Pins indicating Alec Soth’s “Sleeping by the Mississippi” series hug the banks of that mighty river north to south, Ed Ruscha’s “Twentysix Gasoline Stations” follow Route 66 west to east, and Lee Freidlander’s “American Monument” clusters heavily in the Northeast. By the end, you’ll feel as if you’ve been in the passenger seat for a page-by-page road trip of a lifetime.

— Adam Tschorn


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