by Diane von Furstenberg
A handsome volume whose alluring photographs outshine its stilted prose, The Bath not only offers a brief history of bathing but takes the reader into the sanctums where luminaries including Barry Diller, Marisa Berenson and Calvin Klein perform their ablutions. Even without captions, it would be easy to pair the rooms with their occupants: The spare white bath in Klein’s beach house features an all-American claw-foot tub, while the flamboyant black-marble bathing area in mogul Diller’s California pool house is walled in glass.
Ambitious and evocative, this follow-up to von Furstenberg’s glossy coffee-table collection of Beds opens the door on a baroque hummum (Turkish bath) in the Topkapi Palace and the marble steam room at the Gentleman’s Bath and Racquet Club in London, as well as the stainless-steel lavs in New York City’s über-chic Royalton Hotel. Unfortunately, the shallow narrative isn’t as inspiring; in a chapter in which she tells readers how to enhance their own bathing experiences, von Furstenberg sounds as if she’s making a pitch on QVC. Skim the text, then, but linger over the photos—and savor the visual journey. (Random House, $37.50)