Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger

Girl in Dior by Annie Goetzinger is a graphic biographical novel about Mr. Dior and his eponymous fashion label, House of Dior. Originally published in French, it was translated into English in 2015.

The first Dior fashion show took place in 1947 in Paris. The story is told through Clara, a fictional character. The reader experiences, through Clara’s eyes, the very first Dior fashion show. This is where the world was first introduced to the “New Look.” The story doesn’t gloss over how controversial the New Look was. With war and austerity now behind France, Dior created feminine, waist-cinching skirts and dresses that reached down to the ankles. Women, however, didn’t want to go back to wearing longer dresses. They liked their short dresses just fine. But Dior, through his passion and a vision for a new post-war ideal, persevered and made his fashion house a success.

Clara also introduces the reader to the House of Dior and Dior’s “muses.” Though Clara is a fashion journalist, she soon quits her job to become one of Dior’s muses. This was a clever ploy because Clara and Dior become confidantes. This dynamic gives the reader a glimpse into the intimate details of the House of Dior and inside the mind of Dior himself. It worked because I found myself feeling sad for Dior’s lonely state since his wife’s passing. I saw him as a human, not just a famous fashion designer.

The book takes the reader from that very first show to the end of Mr. Dior’s life in 1957. It’s a very touching tribute to fashion and to the elegance that continues to be the House of Dior. In fact, I would describe this book as a love letter to fashion. If you are a fashionista or a lover of the history of fashion, then you’ll appreciate this book because the drawings of the dresses are sumptuous. Annie Goetzinger didn’t just write the novel, she also illustrated it.

I have one criticism about this book. Clara is a one-dimensional character. She lacks depth and has no strong feelings about anything. She quits her job, works for Mr. Dior, marries a rich man, quits her job again, spends time conversing with Mr. Dior, and so on. I think Clara’s sole purpose was to narrate the story of Mr. Dior. If you read the story knowing this, then you’ll be fine. Just don’t expect her to be multi-faceted, like heroines of other novels. That said, this is a charming book and it might help us, for just a few minutes, to get our minds off the troubling times we are living through.

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Mr. Dior and his models.

xoxo, Jane

The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion by Megan Hess


My recent finished read is a fashion illustration book. Megan Hess illustrated (with permission) 100 of the most iconic dresses in fashion history in her book, The Dress. The book is organized in six sections: Designers, Icons, Weddings, Music, Film and Oscars.

It’s more than just a book filled with nice illustrations. Every dress Megan Hess illustrates comes complete with historical tidbits or background about the history of the dress. Page after page, gorgeous dresses jump out at you. It’s truly a delight to pour through this book.


One of my favorite dresses is this gown worn by Grace Kelly at the Oscars. I admit that I rewatch Grace Kelly movies (especially To Catch a Thief) over and over again simply for Grace Kelly’s sumptuous wardrobe.


I adore this dress by Carolina Herrera. The floral ballgown was created in 2013 and Actress Lucy Liu wore it to the 2013 Golden Globes.

I also think the most touching part of the book is the author’s dedication: “For Gwyn. All the dresses I’ve drawn, and all the dresses I own, will one day be yours.”

Now on to the criticism. While each dress gets a double page feature (as shown above), I wish there was additional content devoted to each dress. The information was skimpy at best and could have used much more historical detail.

If you like the combination of history, fashion and illustrations, then this book might be for you. Now if only I can figure out how to make the dresses jump out of the book and into my wardrobe…

xoxo, Jane


The Gown by Jennifer Robson


The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson is a historical fiction set in Canada and England. This is the first novel I’ve read by this author. The story centers around three women, two from the past and one in our present day.


London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

All three main characters are lovely, but I connected the most with Frenchwoman Miriam. Miriam is a survivor of Ravensbrueck, a concentration camp for women. (If you want to learn more about this concentration camp, then visit this page on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website.) It is clearly obvious the author did her research and she did it very well. Miriam reminded me of my mother who also survived the Nazis (though unlike Miriam, my mother was not sent to a concentration camp).

Even though Miriam was kind, well-spoken, a diligent seamstress and never gave anything away about her past (at least initially) I could sense her sadness and despair. I really bonded with Miriam as a character. This is what makes Jennifer Robson such a good author.

beautiful blooming bouquet bridal

What I love

I love the history and background about the Queen’s wedding dress. We (the reader) are literally in the sewing studio, watching the seamstresses hard at work. I was able to visualize every stitch. The author got everything right because she interviewed one of the four seamstresses who worked on the actual royal wedding dress. Again and again, it becomes obvious that serious research went into this story. But in a seamless way, which made this book so enjoyable to read.

There is one scene, where Heather, the modern-day character, spends an afternoon shopping at Fortnum & Mason. This really made me smile as I love Fortnums and was happy it played a small part in the novel.

What I don’t love

There is a rape scene. It’s not graphic or detailed, but it’s a major reason why one of the characters ends up on a different path in life. Had I known there was a rape scene in this book, I probably would not have read it. I’m really sensitive to scenes where women and children get hurt. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t know about it, because I’m happy I read The Gown. It was heartwarming and touching and I will be thinking of the characters for months to come.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but all three women have their happy ending. I guess I just want to throw that out there in case you think the subject matter is too sad. It was a phenomenal book and the months-long library hold was worth it.

Will you be reading The Gown?

xoxo, Jane

First image of the novel and a peek of my own wedding dress by me. Second image via


Pairing books with tea (The Time-Traveling Fashionista)


The Time-Traveling Fashionista is a YA series of three fashionable books by Bianca Turetsky. In the first book of the series, The Time-Traveling Fashionista On Board The Titanic, we are introduced to our main character, Louise Lambert, a young teenage girl living in an old rambling Tudor house in Connecticut with her American father and British mother.

Louise has one true love: vintage fashion. Thanks to her well-read tome, Shopping for Vintage: The Definite Guide to Fashion,* Louise knows more about vintage fashion than the average young person.

When Louise receives a mysterious invitation to an exclusive, invitation-only vintage sale, she accidentally discovers a time-traveling portal via the vintage dresses.

Where does it take her? Onboard the Titanic! While onboard, she encounters several adventures with her new friend Anna, a lady’s maid. But the real questions are whether she can return home before the ship sinks and if Anna can be saved.

I won’t give it away, but I will say that it is a delightful read with gorgeous illustrations.


My own fascination with vintage fashion makes me daydream about the history of the clothing and who previous owners might have been. I own several vintage clothing and accessories that belonged to my late mother. They are very special to me because she loved her clothes and took good care of everything she owned. She was very poor as a young lady, so I know it was a sacrifice to buy the things I ended up inheriting. This book series resonated with me because Louise is mindful of the history of clothing.

The other two books in the series are The Time-Traveling Fashionista at the Palace of Marie Antoinette and The Time-Traveling Fashionista and Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile.


I’m breaking my tea rule because this book (the entire series, actually) needs a big mug of hot chocolate with lots of whipped cream. I recommend Fortnum’s Hot Chocolate! It’s not the fine-powdered inexpensive chocolate. It’s large chunks of chocolate pieces which require milk (not water). Enjoying a decadent cup of Fortnum’s hot chocolate is perfect for this fashionable and adventurous series.

Fortnum's Chocolate*Not a real book, but for something similar try Vintage Paris Couture: The French Woman’s Guide to Shopping or The Little Guide to Vintage Shopping: Insider Tips, Helpful Hints, Hip Shops.

xoxo, Jane

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. xoxo, Jane


Paris: Through A Fashion Eye by Megan Hess



Paris is an illustrated guide to one of the world’s most-loved fashion cities by one of the world’s most-successful fashion illustrators. In the second of her series of books on classic fashion destinations, Megan Hess takes you on a super stylish adventure through the French capital, showing you the best places for a fashionista to eat, sleep, shop and play – all illustrated in her inimitable, elegant style.

Megan’s tour reveals where fashion icons such as Coco Chanel, Karl Lagerfield, Chistian Dior and Louis-François Cartier worked and played, the top restaurants, hotels, boutiques and sites to visit, as well as Megan’s own personal favorite places to shop. This is a must-have insider’s guide to Paris for any fashion lover or Francophile.

What I love

I am falling in love with Megan Hess’ work. Paris: Through A Fashion Eye is beautiful and a happy distraction from the worries around me. This book is an illustrated guide of the most fashionable spots in Paris and it has got to be the most beautifully illustrated guidebook on Paris.

I love that the book is organized in a fashionable, yet coherent manner. It’s divided by the following sections: Do/Play, Shop, Sleep, Eat/Drink, Listings. And the best part is the illustrations! They are not a disappointment. They are gorgeous and elegant.

I love that I learned about the history of the hotels, the luxury designers and the most fashionable dining spots. I’m probably never going to be able to walk into Dior (30 avenue Montaigne) and purchase a handbag, but I love that I know the history of Dior’s (and all the other luxury hotspots) building.

Don’t be fooled by this book. It may be cute and uber chic, but it’s loaded with historical tidbits.

I love, love, love mixing fashion with history. If you feel the same, then this illustrated book might be your cup of tea.

eiffel tower paris france
Photo by Skitterphoto on

What I don’t love

The only thing I don’t love about this book is that it ended. I could have used about 700 more pages.

If you’ve read this book, please let me know your thoughts!

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. xoxo, Jane

Coco Chanel by Megan Hess




Fashion is ever-changing, influenced by the key designers that capture a moment in history; and Coco Chanel is arguably the most significant influence on women’s fashion in the twentieth century. Coco Chanel: The Illustrated World of a Fashion Icon is a compilation of Megan Hess’ stunning illustrations of the 100 most quintessential moments through Chanel’s history, from Coco’s incredible life, to the impact of Karl Lagerfeld and the incredible items that have become fashion icons – the little black dress, the luxurious bags and accessories, glamorous jewellery and of course the renowned Chanel No 5 perfume.

Interspersed with historical anecdotes and famous quotes from Coco herself, Karl Lagerfeld and other key fashion icons of the era, this book is an elegant and immersive introduction to the moments that shaped Coco and the iconic Chanel brand – and how fashion, in turn, shaped their lives.

When Coco Chanel by Megan Hess arrived in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised at its size. I assumed it would be much smaller, but it’s a perfectly-sized hardback that will look fabulous on my bookshelf or on a coffee table. (Look at the silver-plated pages!!!)

I was also surprised at the book’s substance. Besides the sumptuous illustrations, Coco Chanel has plenty of history, anecdotes and quotes.

The story begins with Coco Chanel’s humble beginnings and takes the reader all the way to the end of her life and to the Karl Lagerfeld era.

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Coco Chanel in 1932.

What I love

The illustrations! I bought this book purely because it’s a gorgeous, illustrated book for adults. I’m so happy I did! I loved reading it while enjoying Megan Hess’ creative drawings of Coco and her world.

I also enjoyed learning about the famous 2.55 Handbag. The book gave a lovely illustrated history of the handbag and explained why Coco Chanel named this particular purse 2.55. {Spoiler alert: Because she created it in February 1955.}

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A black CHANEL Handbag 2.55

What I don’t love

I realize this is more of a fashion book than an actual history book, but I wish that the book didn’t gloss over Chanel’s Nazi past. We learn that Chanel hunkered down at the Ritz during the war (with her Nazi lover) and that after the war she fled to Switzerland. I think the book should have mentioned the unforgivable act she committed during the era of Nazi-occupied Paris.

To make a long story short, Chanel took advantage of atrocious Nazi laws that allowed non-Jewish people to take Jewish-owned businesses away. This is exactly what she did to the Wertheimer family who owned a large stake in her company. She wanted to be the majority stakeholder again so she just took it back. This is unforgivable in my book and should never be glossed over. However, I am happy to report that today the Wertheimer family own and control the House of Chanel.

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Coco Chanel’s suite at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.

If you’d like to own this beautiful book for yourself, please consider purchasing it through the links below. I’ll earn a tiny commission which I will use towards purchasing more books to review or perhaps treating myself to a croissant while I re-read this one again. xoxo, Jane

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. xoxo, Jane

Royal Style – A History of Aristocratic Fashion Icons by Luise Wackerl


Royal Style – A History of Aristocratic Fashion Icons by Luise Wackerl is a history of royal fashion through the ages.

Royals have been fashion icons throughout history and this book features the most famous ones, such as Marie Antoinette and Elizabeth I (yes, Princess Diana too). The book is divided by chapters that feature the various eras. While many nonfiction books of this caliber suffer from a lack of images, Royal Style overflows with photographs, illustrations, paintings and a timeline. That alone makes this book worth it.

Some of the featured royal style icons are Grace Kelly, Princess Margaret, Wallis Simpson, Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Queen Rania and the Duchess of Cambridge. 

What I love

The history tidbits! Wearing fashionable black was first introduced by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy. I learned that Louis XIV wore high-heels with a red sole (hello, Louboutins!). Queen Victoria is described as the greatest bridal trendsetter. We do wear white wedding dresses because of her. Edward VII also has a section. He was a socialite and a trendy dresser. One of the chapters features the fascinating stories of the modern commoner princesses like Mary of Denmark, Queen Letizia of Spain and Mette-Marit of Norway. 

The book is also a little bit gossipy (but not in a negative way). For example, the author dubs Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece “The Dollar Princess”. It doesn’t explain why, but I think that might be because it’s rumored that her father (founder of Duty Free) provided her with a large dowry that benefited her new in-laws, the exiled and cash-strapped Greek royal family. Anyway, she may have married into an exiled royal family but her Valentino wedding dress was fit for a queen at a price of $225,000 (another tidbit).

Quotes by Vogue, Elle, Manolo Blahnik and Michael Kors (among others) are interspersed throughout the book, which gives it a lookbook feel.

What I don’t love

I am disappointed that Désirée Clary (Queen consort of Sweden) and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand) were not included.

Désirée Clary was the one-time fiancée of Napoleon and a fashionable member of Parisian high society. She loved her Parisian life so much that it took her over ten years to join her husband (King Charles XIV John of Sweden) in Stockholm.

Sophie was married to Archduke Franz Ferdinand. She may not have been the traditional fashion icon, but she was very much the talk of the town and the spouse of a future emperor.

That aside, I love owning this book because it combines my two interests, history and royals.

Royal Style is out of print, but you can find inexpensive used copies on Amazon.

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This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for reading my blog. xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #4


Welcome to Thursday. Or as I like to call it, Friday Eve. What are you doing this weekend? I’m going to clean my patio and plant some flowers.

Here are some fun reading links.

I am practicing photography and I’m really proud of this picture I took.

I got to enjoy a new (to me) tea at a hotel I stayed at last weekend.

Speaking of tea, how beautiful is this Royal Albert tea set? I own the Rose Confetti set.

100 Years of Purses by Glamour and 100 Years of Fashion: Handbags by Glam.

9 Things Happy, Healthy People DON’T Have in Their Bedrooms. I totally agree with this and don’t keep any of those things in my bedroom either.

Have a great weekend! xoxo, Jane


Fashion For Your Characters!

I love reading and learning about fashion and fashion history. Luckily for me, my characters seem to enjoy fashion too. My main characters are female heroines who like to look chic while fighting off their adversaries. Since they live in the 1950s and 1960s, I consult the following books for a good grasp of the fashion.


The Kyoto Costume Institute – Fashion: This two-volume set is incredible. It focuses on clothing, shoes and accessories between the 18th Century and 20th Century. The well-researched writing is accompanied by hundreds of glossy photographs.

Fashion The Definite History of Costume and Style: This book is a treasure trove. It’s jam-packed with fashion and style history from prehistory to present day. It contains timelines, graphics, photography and fashion designer biographies.

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Forties Fashion – From Siren Suits to the New Look: This book is about the fashion history of the 40s. The book’s focus is on Europe and North America. It’s organized in a coherent manner and the historical tidbits are invaluable to my fashion research.

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How to Read a Dress by Lydia Edwards: This is a fun book to read, whether for research or just for personal pleasure. It focuses on fashion from the 16th Century to the 20th Century. The author included personal family photographs to showcase some of the fashions of her foremothers, which I found touching.

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For further fun and/or research, I listen to the podcast Dressed. The hosts are well-versed in fashion history and dive into all aspects of fashion history and fashion culture.

Let me know if you have any favorite books on fashion history. xoxo, Jane