- Title & Author: The Designer by Marius Gabriel
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
- Date published: October 1, 2017
- Pages: 388 pages
- Genre: biographical fiction / general fiction / historical fiction
In 1944, newly married Copper Reilly arrives in Paris soon after the liberation. While the city celebrates its freedom, she’s stuck in the prison of an unhappy marriage. When her husband commits one betrayal too many, Copper demands a separation.
Alone in Paris, she finds an unlikely new friend: an obscure, middle-aged designer from the back rooms of a decaying fashion house whose timid nature and reluctance for fame clash with the bold brilliance of his designs. His name is Christian Dior.
Realising his genius, Copper urges Dior to strike out on his own, helping to pull him away from his insecurities and towards stardom. With just a camera and a typewriter, she takes her own advice and ventures into the wild and colourful world of fashion journalism.
Soon Copper finds herself torn between two very different suitors, questioning who she is and what she truly wants. As the city rebuilds and opulence returns, can Copper make a new, love-filled life for herself?
Meet the author:
As a photographer and fashion enthusiast, I was looking forward to exploring the rise of fashion and the world of Christian Dior during the remaining years of WWII. The story revolves around Oona Reilly (Copper), a young American woman stationed in Paris with her journalist husband. After her marriage falls apart and her husband is stationed elsewhere, Oona becomes heavily involved in the bohemian art and fashion world. This association leads her to become a protege of Christian Dior, a talented designer who has yet to establish his own design house.
Although this book is primarily historical fiction, there are several historical events relating to the war described in this novel such as the concentration camps, the severe living conditions in France at the time as well as the role the American army and the French resistance played in liberating France from the Nazis. I found myself googling the characters and events in the book for more information and found that the events described were accurate.
Although Oona’s meteoric rise as a photographer and a successful freelance journalist seemed “a little too effortless” to be believable I really did enjoy reading this novel.