The Master of Us All - Balenciaga
When Cristobal Balenciaga died in 1972, the news hit the front page of The New York Times. One of the most innovative and admired figures in the history of haute couture, Balenciaga was, as Elsa Schiaparelli said, "the only designer who dares do what he likes." He was, said Christian Dior, "the master of us all." But despite his extraordinary impact, Balenciaga was a man hidden from view. One woman knew Balenciaga very well indeed. The first person he hired when he opened his Paris house (at the time furnished with only a table and a stool) was Florette Chelot, who became his top vendeuse - as much an adviser as a saleswoman.
"This thoughtful and stylishly written book is perhaps the most serious and intelligent biography of a fashion designer ever written." --Benjamin Schwarz, "The Atlantic" "One of the best biographies written about any personality in fashion... Take my word for it: Buy it, read it, and love it!" --Jeffrey Felner, "New York"" Journal of Books""The wit and sharp eye of Mary Blume have made the French accessible . . . Rather like Nabokov with butterflies, she pins her specimens to the page in full color." --Gore Vidal "[A] penetrating and entertaining new biography." --Liesl Schillinger, "The New York Times" "Intimate, enthusiastic, and lively first biography of the enigmatic designer. . . Blume, former culture columnist for the "International Herald Tribune," writes with wit and aplomb; she was also a Balenciaga client, a fact that clearly informed the revealing and laudatory perspective shared with readers here." --"Publishers Weekly" "[A] captivating new biography . . . [Blume] rounds out her recollections and Florette's with astute reporting, tracing Balenciaga's--and haute couture's--rise against a richly embroidered swath of social history. . . Despite her impossibly private subject, Blume goes a long way toward illuminating Balenciaga within his own context, finding his scope of influence on par with that of fashion's other revolutionaries, Chanel and Vionnet." --Megan O'Grady, "Vogue.com" "Elegantly weaving interviews with Balenciaga's last living chums . . . with cultural history, Blume's account follows Balenciaga's top vendeuse Florette Chelot, who provides a keen . . . perspective on midcentury Luxe. Like a Balenciaga suit designed to skim the body rather than hug it, Blume's artful blend of history, reporting, and chat conjures the designer's world. . ." --Rhonda Lieberman, "Bookforum ""Blume's extensive interviews with [Cristobal Balenciaga's top saleswoman, Florette] Chelot, who stayed with Balenciaga from hi