A fashionable lean

Bruce Weber book

Writing about the Rhodia notebook reminded me of my first big book purchase. The start of my downward slide toward bibliophilism.

I was a little (OK a lot) obsessed with fashion photography in my teens. In particular Bruce Weber. He was all over Vogue in the 1980s. His world was (and still is) one of muscles and sport, youth and aged beauty, animals, inter-war English and American-ness, black and white, movement and stillness. I poured over it all. In detail.

In 1983 Weber’s first book came out. I had recently been left a small amount of money. I could afford the £50 book and, as well, the second-hand Pentax K1000 I had my eye on. That was (and still is) a lot to spend on a book. But boy did I have a yearning.

Signed editions of the book were only sold in the Paul Smith shop in Covent Garden. But a trip to London was out of the financial question. So to Nottingham. I finally went in that small Paul Smith shop I’d never dared enter before. The poor staff probably didn’t know what to think when an earnest, unfashionable teen requested a look at the big book in the glass cabinet. I bought my copy with shaking hands and grubby cash.

I still love that book. Heavy paper, beautifully printed. Exquisite images by a great fashion photographer. I think it remains the best Weber book. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?



I remember the little Paul Smith shop in Nottingham (was it his first?). I also used to go in there as a teen, drooling over the £10 socks (way out of my price range). PS used to spray Merry Xmas in silver on the paving in front of the entrance. It’s not there anymore, but the much grander store more centrally placed has fabulous vintage fittings. To be honest the grander store is more flashy than the original little one. £50 on a book in the 1980s, that was a years pocket money!

shelf appeal

I’m pretty sure Nottingham was the first Paul Smith shop. And yes, £50 was a year’s pocket money. That’s why my hands were shaking as I bought it. I think it was the most expensive thing I’d ever bought. That and the second hand Pentax, anyway.


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