The Collection by Gioia Diliberto tells the story of Isabelle Varlet, a provincial French seamstress who heads to Paris in the aftermath of WWI to start a new life for herself at the fledgling fashion house of Coco Chanel. The true magic of the story lies in the character of the Mademoiselle herself, the one and only Coco Chanel. At turns both rude and charming, the attraction to Mademoiselle is her willingness to fight for her vision, and trod over anyone and everyone who might step in her way. Whether changing her accent to resemble the sophisticated French of a native Parisienne or humiliating a head seamstress in front of dozens, it is impossible to forget that this woman’s vision founded one of the most recognizable names in couture despite being unable to draw or sew.
Her character lays in stark contrast to the main character who is rather bland; Isabelle rarely takes any initiative to control her own destiny, and when she does, the attempts result from the prior failure of every other option available. Detailed descriptions of the design process and original Chanel pieces anchor the story in reality, but the real reason to keep reading is to see just how delectably Coco is going to tear apart her next victim!