W: The First 40 Years

Stefano Tonchi, Editor, Christopher Bagley, With, Joseph Logan, With
Edited by Stefano Tonchi. Abrams, $75 (340p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0447-5
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Lacking the roundness of 50 or the logic of 25, 40 seems an odd anniversary to commemorate in the life of a magazine. The publication that John Fairchild founded as "irreverent, unconventional, and always ahead of the curve," has carved a unique space in the culture. Will it exist in its current form in 2052? That's doubtful. The massive pages of this lush tome are an illustrated tour of late-20th century American culture with all of its giddy, gossipy, sex-and-money-fueled excesses; its relentless worship of celebrity and its appreciation of the spaces where low trash meets high art. The photography and layouts include gems like designer Alexander McQueen submerged in a fish tank; newly minted Vogue editor Anna Wintour explaining her penchant for dark sunglasses indoors; Truman Capote discussing his pot habit; and a brunette, unknown Lady Gaga a full year before her album came out. Any magazine equally comfortable with Jackie O and Kim Kardashian clearly has staying power. We can debate whether W is still "the place where icons are made," but one thing is certain—this book is a gorgeous look back through the last 40 years of fashion, design, art, style, and beauty. 400 color illus. (Oct.)
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