I received this book for free from the publisher (Berkley Publishing) in exchange for an honest review.
This was a really fascinating book. It combined pre-WWII and WWII historical fiction with the cut throat world of haute couture fashion. It took me a little longer to get interested in it, but once I was, I was hooked!
Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli are two very intriguing women and this book does a great job showcasing their legendary rivalry. As the author writes, “Men who persist in the belief that women are soft, sentimental creatures have never worked in the fashion industry” (pg. 134).
The added backdrop of WWII created even more drama between the two. I liked that the book did not shy away from Coco’s affair with a famous Nazi.
The novel utilizes a third party, Lily Sutter, to highlight the complexities of both women. Lily ends up befriending and spending time with both of them and in doing so, we are shown a more intimate view of these two remarkable women.
Lastly, there was a really wonderful quote about fashion as a means of resistance. The book states, “Dressing well is resistance, revenge, pride, a form of control over forces trying to control us. That’s why, when taken prisoner, he first thing your enemy takes is that outer layer of your identity and independence: your clothes. That is why prisoners are put in identical uniforms. They no longer exist as individuals” (pg. 274).
Overall, this is an enthralling portrait of two headstrong fashion designers in the years leading up to World War II.