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Let’s be honest: Most of us men are probably just now getting around to Christmas shopping (hey, we have almost five whole days left!). And while there are innumerable fantastic holiday gifts available right here on Nordstrom.com—sometimes the best gifts come from somewhere else. Like the heart. Or the liquor store. For advice on thinking outside the gift box (and, hopefully, getting a reaction like the one above), we asked nine men with impeccable taste to answer one simple question: What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

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Fries. Toast. Kissing. Brigitte Bardot. Champagne. Tiny bulldogs. Plastic Bertrand. Even though the latter (above) rose to international stardom for lip-syncing another guy’s work (the original Milli Vanilli?), the song he made famous is still damn catchy—and one more excuse to raise a glass to all things French.

The above influences and countless more are the raison d’être behind French Fling, our first in a series of Pop-In Shops. Curated by Olivia Kim, Nordstrom’s Director of Creative Projects (and former Creative Director at Opening Ceremony), each Pop-In will feature a collection of goods, including limited-edition and exclusive items, that rally around a specific theme.

This month, said theme is the home of Kenzo sweatshirts, A.P.C. candles—and even a snapback that can parlez-vous français. Next month—who knows? Shop a few of our favorites below, and look for more from our Pop-In Shops coming soon.


Kenzo Paris sweatshirt | A.P.C. candle | New Era cap | Saint James T-shirt | Hedi Slimane book
 

SHOP ALL: FRENCH FLING POP-IN SHOP

The Ivy Style exhibit at The Museum at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) is ongoing through January 5, 2013, giving you plenty of time to make your way to New York City to observe this immaculate collection of menswear, old and new, firsthand.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the NYC area on November 8-9, in particular, we recommend reserving a seat at Ivy Style: A Fashion Symposium. The Museum at FIT has recruited a dream-team lineup of speakers for this two-day talk on all things prep: Michael Bastian, the CFDA’s 2011 Menswear Designer of the Year; family descendants of Ivy meccas J. Press and Chipp Clothiers; experts on British Ivy, Japanese Ivy and Black Ivy [see one of our favorite blogs, Street Etiquette, put their spin on the latter topic here]; and even authors of renowned menswear blogs The Daily Prep, Maxminimus, and The Trad.



The Ivy aficionado we’d be most excited to hear speak, though, is Mr. G. Bruce Boyer, a preeminent voice in menswear for more than 35 years, as well as a special consultant and co-curator of the Ivy Style exhibit. A prolific author (and a style icon in his own right), you can learn more about Boyer and get a glimpse of his work on The Sartorialist, A Continuous Lean (via the Ivy Style blog), and in the video below, courtesy of Put This On.

 

[Top image is the cover of the book that accompanies the exhibit, courtesy of Yale University Press; purchase it here. Clothing images courtesy of The Museum at FIT. G. Bruce Boyer video courtesy of Put This On.]

Did you know photography books are in the midst of a renaissance?

As the website for Dashwood Books, New York City’s only independent bookstore devoted entirely to photography, states: “The last ten years have seen a radical change in the publishing of books on photography…Many photographic curators now feature books as a significant part of exhibitions…and a strong collectors’ market has developed with prices for rare books tripling over the past decade.”

Dashwood Books was kind enough to curate a special collection for our GQ & Nordstrom Men’s Shop in NYC this week. Dashwood owner David Strettell shares six of his favorite titles below.

 

David Armstrong: Night and Day
“Brings together a selection of iconic Kodachrome pictures from David Armstrong’s archive of the late ’70s and early ’80s in downtown New York. The images illuminate an intimate and carefree epoch of innocent-bohemian wilderness—a time just before the tumultuous ’80s.” [purchase]
 

Elaine Constantine, Corinne Day, Nick Knight, Marc Lebon, Craig McDean, Nigel Shafran, David Sims and Wolfgang Tillmans (amongst others): W’HAPPEN
“Emerging British fashion photographers of the 1990s. As a reaction to the artificial, manufactured fashion images of the 1980s, the photographers and stylists featured in W’HAPPEN pushed into the 1990s with work that had a more direct grounding in reality.” [purchase]
 

Soviet Beauty Queens
“Although beauty contests did not find favor in the Soviet Union until the late 1980s, by 1991, before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Soviet beauty queen had become symbol of perestroika itself. These photographs were taken 1988–1990 in Leningrad, at various beauty contests and at the Leningrad Beauty Institute, an academy preparing aspiring beauty queens for competition, and were acquired in St. Petersburg by The Archive of Modern Conflict.” [purchase]
 

Antonio Lopez: Fashion, Art, Sex & Disco
“The most comprehensive book on the influential fashion illustrator who defined style during the disco era in NY and Paris in the 1970s and early ’80s. THE BEST fashion book of this year.” [more info]
 

Rico Scagliola & Michael Meier: Neue Menschen (New Human Beings)
“Highly stylized, hyper-modern depictions of teens in Zurich by Swiss artists Rico Scagliola and Michael Meier, both in their 20s, produced in a fat volume by the wonderfully eccentric publisher Patrick Frey.” [purchase]
 

Luigi Ghirri: Project Prints
“The work of Luigi Ghirri, who died in 1992, has been rediscovered of late after being including in a major exhibition curated by Thomas Demand entitled La Carte D’Apres Nature—citing work with a surrealist take on nature. For my money, this is the best book of the year—beautifully designed and reproduced, making the most of the artist’s exquisite touch.” [more info]

 

[Photos and quotes courtesy of Dashwood Books, 33 Bond Street between Lafayette and Bowery, NYC.]

Call it wabi-sabi if you want to sound fancy, but the point is that more and more, rigid ideals of beauty and what is aesthetically profound are finally giving way to perfectly imperfect individuality. Have you noticed the recent mainstream embrace of diastema—aka models with gaps in their teeth? The latest evidence of this long-overdue paradigm shift is Swiss-born, LA-based photographer Reto Caduff‘s new book, simply titled Freckles. We’ve all subconsciously understood the allure of this rare recessive gene, in Hollywood beauties from Julianne Moore to Emma Stone. But it’s good to see it officially acknowledged in a gorgeous hardback artifact.

 

[Images ©Reto Caduff, via retocaduff.com and nytimes.com.]

Attention slackers, ingrates and procrastinators: You are not alone. In fact, we created our ‘buy online, pick up in store’ feature just for you.

Just click this link: Last-Minute Dad Gifts. Then, enter your ZIP Code in the ‘Store Availability’ filter to see what items are stocked at Nordstrom stores near you.

Here are some favorites from our Home department, that are available for pick-up at selected stores. (You’ll find tons of clothes, accessories and shoes for Dad under the above link as well.)

Don’t forget the card! And the strong coffee and pile of bacon Sunday morning.


Areaware iPhone dock


Izola flask | Icons of Men’s Style


The Moustache Grower’s Guide | Areaware bottle opener


Beats by Dre high-definition headphones | Beer Tasting Tool Kit