Sneak Peek: Assouline’s ’American Beauty’

Launch Slideshow

Victoria’s Secret model Lily Aldridge, J. Crew maven Jenna Lyons, designer Erin Fetherston, CNN correspondent Alina Cho—these women have more in common than simply being successful and having covetable closets. They’re American women, and they are—among similarly impressive others—the subject of photographer and former Vogue staffer Claiborne Swanson Frank’s new Assouline book.

American Beauty, now available at Assouline boutiques and, is a collection of portraits celebrating women who are independent, stylish, and, in the words of Swanson Frank, “soulful” women.

The project started when Swanson Frank displayed a series of photographs or her friends and family as a show called "Indigo Light." The exhibit traveled from New York to Boston to San Francisco—and Swanson Frank started thinking about her next step. Following the advice of her longtime mentor, Vogue’s director of photography Ivan Shaw, she took her pitch for her first book to Assouline, which gave her the green light. (The image above of Aldridge is from the book's gorgeous cover.)

“There hasn’t been a book like this,” Swanson Frank said. “Women are creating things they never have before.”

The original photographs from "Indigo Light" were included, along with a slew of new portraits. In addition to the aforementioned women, subjects like Solange Knowles, Aerin Lauder, Harper's Bazaar's Joanna Hillman, Moda Operandi's Taylor Tomasi Hill, and Swanson Frank herself appear in the book.

“Every woman in the book had to be contributing to society in America,” Swanson Frank said of her subjects. “Beyond, that, it was very individual. There had to be depth, soulfulness, personal style. I was so inspired by each of the women in the book."

Swanson Frank styled her subjects herself (they all wore their own clothes), worked with them to pick a location, and shot them naturally, without assistants on hand or any artificial lighting.

“I’m a portrait photographer, and I wanted to create an authentic portrait,” she said. “In the end, it was a marriage of the location, the wardrobe and the girl."

Check out our slideshow of images from the tome—along with Swanson Frank’s personal reflections on the American Beauty.