My Ex-Boyfriend's Dad Gave Me My Most Favorite Source Of Beauty Inspiration

"Extreme Beauty In Vogue" is the perfect book for beauty fanatics or just people with really, really good taste.

My ex's dad was one of those 50-something divorced playboys that always dressed impeccably (even for the gym) only ever made two meals: barbeque (on his top-of-the-line Japanese green egg grill that he forced you outside to ogle) and fried chicken, played golf every single day, and probably drank far too much before driving around Dallas in his new Jag--far too fast. He always had a new Jag.

He had the same few restaurants that we always went to and his favorite waiters that he was a playful asshole toward, but always tipped really well. That was kind of his thing: the lovable jerk. You wanted to hate him sometimes, you never agreed with his political views or social observations, he was "honest" (opinionated) when you didn't want him to be, but extremely charming all at once.

It was a strange dichotomy, hanging out with him and his son. Dude was the kindest, most open-minded, inclusive peer I had while Dad was a good ol' Dallas boy raised at the country club. Dude would cringe and apologize every time his dad said something offensive, or if he had the energy he'd snap back with an undermining jab, which would make Dad's eyes bulge, his hand not holding a drink shot toward his heart feigning surprise like, "Where is this COMING from?"

I think that my glimmer of affection toward him, despite the eye-roll-inducing things he said or did, or almost killing me in a car accident, still remained partly because he had great aesthetic sensibilities. (Well, and other things of course. He is caring guy and loved helping people, even if it was in his own special way.)

For Christmas when I was 19, after making me a fresh-squeezed Greyhound (we were always above the law if we were with him), he gave me what's come to be one of my most cherished possessions: Extreme Beauty In Vogue. It was kind of funny, because I'd never really expressed any interest in beauty (not quite sure if I ever have, to be honest), so it's almost like he predicted this whole "beauty editor" thing.

It's a collection of some of the most avant-garde beauty shots from the Vogue archives, including work by my God, Helmut Newton, and Irving Penn, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Herb Ritts, and Richard Avedon. I flip through it every time I'm feeling bored with trends or like I've seen too much "pretty," and "cute." It's like a stinging rinse of Listerine when your creative mind has become dulled and caked with fantasies achieving the perfect bangs. It's really, really beautiful.

Books like this are meat for your brain, when all day long we're at our computers consuming bits of sugary sweetness. I love that most of the images aren't just meant to be aesthetically pleasing, but have something to say about beauty.

Do you have any next-level beauty inspirations? Recommendations are appreciated!