Isabelle Varlet, charming and naive, comes from a long line of seamstresses in a small town in France. A series of unfortunate events and her prodigious sartorial talent carry her to Paris, which in the wake of World War I is electric with new life. When Isabelle takes a job in the atelier of Coco Chanel, the rising star of haute couture, she finds herself in the heart of a glamorous and ruthless world filled with arrogant designers, handsome men, beautfiul women, and fashion thieves who prowl Paris hoping to steal designs before they hit the runway.
In Chanel’s workshop, Isabelle thrives on the time-honored techniques of couture—the painstaking hand stitches, the perfect fall of fabric—and the sleek, pared-down lines of “Mademoiselle’s” revolutionary style. As Isabelle brings in exquisite dress to life for the fall collection—from its embryonic origins in humble muslin to its finished form in the finest silk—she navigates the tempestuous moods of Chanel, the cutthroat antics of her fellow workers, and her own search for love.
Just as she did in her critically acclaimed novel I am Madame X, Gioia Diliberto brings a rich historical moment to life through her vivid and compelling storytelling. Her penetrating research and imagination are gracefully woven together in this poignant story filled with larger-than-life characters embroiled in scandalous tales, passionate love affairs, and extraordinary careers. The Collection is an exubrantly entertaining read.
“Acutely observed...Diliberto portrays Isabelle’s connection to her work with great sensitivity...[the] period details throughout are superb.”
“Postwar Paris and the ruthlessly competitive atelier of Coco Chanel come to glamorously gritty life.”
“Magnificent detail...vibrant and alive...each moment [Chanel] is on the page is sheer pleasure, much like fine couture.”
“A seamless and entertaining tapestry.”
“Beautifully evocative and vivid. Who knew there could be so much drama in the early 20th century French fashion revolution?”
“The next best thing to a shopping spree in Paris.”