May 22, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

More than an excuse to show half-naked models, this coffee-table book — completed just before the designer’s death — poses a subtle question: Just where do art and fashion meet? Versace shows how his favorite paintings inspired his designs and fashion photography, creating some illuminating juxtapositions. For example, a fantastical garden scene by Frank Moore gives way to a dreamy ivy-covered dress. Some parallels are ridiculous. A bas-relief of a man intently carving himself out of marble is demeaned by the carefree hunk sitting on a pile of rocks on the opposite page. But the overall effect of The Art of Being You testifies to the deeper vision behind what is too often seen as a shallow endeavor. B+

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