I thought The Designer would be a perfect read for the end of Paris Fashion Week(s) and I wasn’t wrong. The designer in the title is Christian Dior before he became “Christian Dior”! Our protagonist is Copper Reilly, an American newlywed, who arrives in Paris just after the liberation. Realizing she has made a mistake in her marriage she immediately demands a separation, alone she finds a new friend in a designer who is working with a well-established couturier, Lucien Lelong, that gentle man is Christian Dior. Copper begins to photograph and write about what she sees happening to the female collaborators, takes photos of them and sends her story off to Harper’s Bazaar and the then editor, Carmel Snow, accepts it and prints it. This illustrious editor has her French contact, a Russian Count, get in touch with Copper to sign a contract, Copper would rather freelance and so begins her journey. They (Copper and the older Count) meet each week for dinner at the Ritz and Copper becomes independent as well as a respected photojournalist. Of course, there is a romance or two, many interesting characters, all rather bohemian, and perhaps a bit predictable but fun. As she progresses so does Dior and the book takes us to the monumental fashion world changing 1947 debut of the House of Dior!
What I particularly liked was our author’s authenticity about the rise of Dior and the other characters of the fashion world immediately following WW II. I really loved all the detail about one of my favorite pieces of fashion history the Théâtre de la Mode. I did a nenasnotes post on it several months ago, on March 31, 2017, to be exact. Other than the film that was made about it (you can view it on YouTube) and the book on it I haven’t seen any other documentation and was thrilled to see it incorporated into a novel.
By now you know I love a novel that combines fact with fiction and this one does it extremely well. Is it major literature, most certainly not but an enjoyable read none the less. I haven’t read any of Marius Gabriel’s other works (and he writes under several pseudonyms) but I plan on doing so. Would I recommend it, indeed I would, especially if you are into fashion, what was happening in the industry after the War, and the beginnings of one of the most important of all the fashion houses, Christian Dior!