In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Senior Designer Michelle Neustrom writes about Designing in Ivory and White.
I first met Suzanne Perron in the spring of 2009. There was talk that LSU Press was publishing a “wedding dress” book, and the author was stopping by to meet with the acquisitions editor as well as the production and design manager to discuss the format of the book. Luckily for me, the production manager had a conflict, and I was able to attend the meeting in her place. I was beyond excited and, quite frankly, a little nervous. A majority of the books we publish at LSU Press are on the scholarly side with subjects ranging from Civil War history to literary criticism, so the chance to work on a full-color, large-format book of couture gowns was something completely different. A dream project for sure.
Listening to her describe her craft and looking at photos of her gorgeous masterpieces, I instantly became a fan of Suzanne Perron, not just of her work but of her as a person. She is a selfless designer. She listens to her client’s wants and desires, gets to know their personal style, and then builds an impeccably constructed gown which best represents them. And she builds it twice—first out of muslin as a sort of rough draft and then with the actual material. Her muslins are almost as beautiful as the finished dresses, and some of her clients have remarked they would have gladly been married in them.
I wanted to approach the design of Suzanne’s book the same way she approaches dress design—get to know the client and then reflect their style in all the details. There were so many stunning photographs of Suzanne’s work that it was obvious they should be the main focus; the design elements should be secondary and subtle. I drew inspiration for the swirly typeface mixed with a clean, all-small-caps typeface from classic wedding invitations, and the color pallet of the book reflects the title, Designing in Ivory and White. I used a large version of Suzanne’s brocade fleur-de-lis logo as a design element on the part titles and then made the logo into a pattern for the endsheets. It is reminiscent of wallpaper in old New Orleans homes and of the lush landscapes used as backdrops throughout the book. It also alludes to Suzanne’s love for the city and for the South.
This is so much more than just a “wedding dress” book full of lovely photos. It is the story of a very determined and talented woman who has worked with top designers, including Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera, and it is an education in the couture design process illustrated by Suzanne Perron’s meticulous fabrications.
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