Author: Justine Picardie
Published by: Faber & Faber on Oct. 18, 2021
Source: Publishers Group Canada
Book Rating: 8/10
Miss Dior is a story of freedom and fascism, beauty, and betrayal, roses and repression, and how the polished surface of fashion conceals hidden depths.
It paints a portrait of the enigmatic woman behind the designer Christian Dior: his beloved younger sister Catherine, who inspired his most famous perfume and shaped his vision of femininity. Justine Picardie”s journey takes her to Occupied Paris, where Christian honed his couture skills while Catherine dedicated herself to the French Resistance, until she was captured by the Gestapo and deported to the German concentration camp of Ravensbrück.
With unparalleled access to the Dior family homes and archives, Picardie”s research into Catherine”s courageous life shines a new light on Christian Dior”s legendary work, and reveals how his enchanting ”New Look” emerged out of the shadows of his sister”s suffering.
Tracing the wartime paths of the Dior siblings leads Picardie deep into other hidden histories, and different forms of resistance and sisterhood. She explores what it means to believe in beauty and hope, despite our knowledge of darkness and despair, and discovers the timeless solace of the natural world in the aftermath of devastation and destruction. The result is an exquisite and unforgettably moving book.
Captivating, descriptive, and well researched!
Miss Dior is the sincere, informative biography of the remarkable Caroline Dior, the youngest sister of renowned fashion designer Christian Dior who, after falling in love with a married resistance leader in 1941, spent the next three years reporting to British Intelligence on German operations until July 1944 when she was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Ravensbrück and other satellite concentration camps before returning to Paris, after surviving a death march in April 1945, where for the remainder of her life she rarely spoke of the horrors she had endured but surrounded herself with her brother’s love and the flowers she adored.
The writing is evocative and expressive. The characters are humble, heroic, and unique. And the novel is an engaging look into how two siblings in a time of upheaval and uncertainty, one in the spotlight and the other in the shadows, made a resounding impact on French history and the world of fashion.
Overall, Miss Dior is a candid, intriguing tale by Picardie with an abundance of beautiful photos and illustrations, and even though I would have liked to learn more specifically about the life of the woman who inspired the perfume, I still found it an insightful, fascinating tale of not only second-hand accounts of the times, events, and situations she would have faced, but the ultimate evolution and rise of the House of Dior and the incredible array of infamous people who over the years have been lucky enough to don their couture.
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Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.