Strike a Pose, Readers: Nigel Barker Visits Nashville

nigel and friends

Contrary to popular belief, booknerds can in fact be fashionable, and the fashionable can be quite booknerdy. Case in point: Nigel Barker, author, model, photographer, former America’s Next Top Model judge, and author of Models of Influence: 50 Women Who Reset the Course of Fashion. Barker is headed into town for Nashville Fashion Week, and while we’re doing some serious outfit-planning for our events with him this Tuesday, April 7, he tells us a bit about his favorite books — including the ones he has written himself. 

First, let’s talk about books like they’re models. What about a book makes you want to look at it and read what it has to say?

NB: Well, just like when we look at models we often judge a book by its cover, which is why I decided to use an image with eight supermodels clad in biker gear for the cover of Models of Influence. The expressions on their faces compel the viewer to pick up the book and read on!

What are some of the “supermodels” of books? Are there some books you appreciate particularly as aesthetic objects — for their looks, design, cover, paper, etc.?  

cover_su_newton_0709111332_id_39416NB: Modeling in my office now like objet d’arts are various books I love, starting with Helmut Newton’s large format book published by Taschen on his life’s work. It comes with a glass stand so you can showcase a different double page spread every day as inspiration. Another beauty is the felt-bound mega book Women in Art by Reed Krakoff. The soft, luxurious outfit it’s dressed in makes you want to pick it up and undress, I mean, open it. And no collection would be complete without a copy of the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. The shimmering holographic image of McQueen and a silver skull flickering on the cover speaks to the unexpected genius the master was known for and always grabs my attention. And finally the bible of supermodel books, Coco Rocha’s recent book published by Harper Collins is the final word in posing, with a thousand poses elegantly presented on wafer thin paper to blow your mind at the versatility of the human body.

Is there a right or wrong pose for holding a book while reading in public for maximum attractiveness / visual interest?

NB: There is no right or wrong way per se. It’s about how you wish to be read by others whilst you pose with your book. There’s the coy: reading your novel in your lap so when someone asks you a question you have to look up at them with your chin pointed down and inadvertently bat your eyelids. There’s playing hard to get: holding the book in front of your face like a newspaper. In this position one can lower the book just enough to reveal the eyes, and if the reader likes what she sees, she can go for the full reveal.

One of our shop dogs, Bear, strikes a pose on the shop floor. He’s a natural, right? (Photo by customer Jonathan Pfahl.)

Best thing you’ve read in the past year: 

NB: The California Girl, by T. Jefferson Parker

Book you want to read next:

NB: Michael Connelly’s Black Box

Book you want to produce next:

NB: My next “of Influence” book!

Favorite book to read aloud to your kids:

NB: Roald Dahl’s The Twits 

Favorite thing about real-live bookstores:

NB: The nostalgic feeling I get that takes me back to my childhood. I love seeing all the rows of titles, thousands of magical worlds waiting to be discovered. It’s almost impossible to walk out of a real book store without something special to enlighten your world with. 

What changes have happened in the past few years in the fashion industry that you’re most excited about?

NB: The advent of social media has completely changed the fashion landscape. In years gone by, models have been discovered and nurtured by the photographers, editors, and designers who were inspired to make them supermodels. Now we the people decide who the next big thing is by liking, following, and friending! It’s exciting to think of what could be next.

What’s the weirdest fan encounter you’ve ever had?

NB: I was in the Philippines with my last book, Nigel Barker’s Beauty Equation, and we decided to go to a remote hotel outside of Manila to get away from it all for the day. When we arrived at the hotel a man jumped up from the pool and ran towards me screaming he was my biggest fan. My security detail jumped in front of me to block the guy, who continued to protest — hopping up and down — that he was my biggest fan. I said everything was fine and just let me speak to the guy, who then proudly presented his arm to me with my name tattooed across it.

What do you wish you could go back and tell yourself 20 years ago?

NB: Nothing — never mess with the space-time continuum!

What do you hope you’ll be doing in 20 years?

NB: Everything

This question was submitted by members of our staff who do not have your name tattooed on their arms but are nonetheless big fans: Did you ever see that episode of 30 Rock where they talk about going through life in a “handsome bubble”? And do people ever tell you you’re good at tennis when in fact you suspect you may not be all that good at tennis? 

NB: Luckily for me, my English accent makes me sound intelligent regardless of what I say, and as the recipe for every great American television show includes a dash of British, I am neither shaken nor stirred by your backhanded compliment. #ExtremelyGoodLooking Just wait until I get to Nashville and I challenge you to a “walk off”!

You will beat us handily, and we look forward to it. Thank you!

* * *

NFW_mark500Meet Nigel Barker at The Loews Vanderbilt Hotel on Tuesday, April 7, from 4-6 p.m. Nashville Fashion Week Spirits Sponsor, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, will provide a complimentary cocktail for all guests (21 and up) who RSVP for the book signing. Barker will also be a special guest at the Nashville Designer Showcase runway show later that evening at Acme Feed & Seed, with another book signing taking place post-show at the Official Kickoff Afterparty on the Acme rooftop. (Admission to this second signing is included with an All Access Pass or a Tuesday Night event ticket.) For tickets/info and to RSVP, click here.

ISBN-13: 9780062345844
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Design, 2/2015

ISBN-13: 9780810996427
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Harry N. Abrams, 9/2010
ISBN-13: 9783836517300
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Taschen, 10/2009

ISBN-13: 9780300169782
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 5/2011
ISBN-13: 9780062328144
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Design, 10/2014

ISBN-13: 9780061874895
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Harper Perennial, 8/2009

ISBN-13: 9780316069434
Availability: Special Order – Subject to Availability
Published: Little, Brown and Company, 11/2012

ISBN-13: 9780142410394
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 days
Published: Puffin Books, 8/2007