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Poolside reflections, page by page

September 25, 2003|Scott Sandell

There must be something in the water -- how else to explain two recent books revolving around dreamy swimming pools?

The latest is photographer Veronique Vial's "Hollywood Splash" (powerHouse Books, $45), which came out last week and focuses on celebrities as they dive, wade and skinny-dip. Emmy-winning actor William H. Macy sits at the edge of his pool in a suit and loafers, pant legs drenched; supermodels Claudia Schiffer and Heidi Klum jump into the water in full-length dresses; Jackie Chan flies spread-eagle in swim trunks; Traci Bingham of "Baywatch" frolicks in nothing more than a cowboy hat.

"People get very spontaneous when they are around water," says Vial, whose previous photo books "Men Before 10 a.m." and "Women Before 10 a.m." showed Hollywood's beautiful people ostensibly before they had a chance to pretty themselves up. This time around, Vial again wanted her subjects to let their hair down, and over the course of shooting in the summers of 2001 and 2002, they became more creative.

"At first it was just people jumping into pools, but that got boring," Vial says. "So I asked them to find another splash to do." Her idea evolved into everything from actor Andy Garcia pouring himself a shot of Bacardi to rocker Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra sitting in a bathtub.

Another book, Christine Pittel's "House Beautiful Pools" (reissued in March by Hearst Books, $24.95), takes a more architectural approach, making stars out of the pools, waterfalls, spas and man-made ponds. It's only natural, given their prominent pedigrees, many of them local architects and designers: Steven Ehrlich of Culver City; Thomas Callaway, Tina Beebe, Buzz Yudell and Nancy Goslee Power of Santa Monica; and Lynn von Kersting of L.A., to name a few.

Should you be inspired by their designs and want to get in the swim of things, the book includes a directory of names and numbers.

-- Scott Sandell

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