“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 [Cristóbal Balenciaga’s top saleswoman, Florette] Chelot, who stayed with Balenciaga from his first collection, in 1937, to his last, in 1968, yield fresh material about an enigmatic man whose creations—such as ‘the pillbox,’ ‘the sack,’ and ‘the baby-doll’—are still imitated today, even if his reclusive self-effacement is not. Balenciaga cultists will delight in such character-revealing minutiae as the designer's technique for stirring up impeccable martinis (blot the ice first), his habit of wearing a hairnet to relax his curls, and his maniacal penchant for re-pinning sleeves. Blume’s needle’s-eye portrait nearly supports Hubert de Givenchy’s conviction that his mentor was ‘a perfect man’ and almost renders plausible Diana Vreeland’s claim that the novel beauty of a Balenciaga show so overpowered her ‘it was possible to blow up and die.’” —Amy Fine Collins, Vanity Fair
Mary Blume has captured the true essence of this man. . . I always considered him the Best of his era.
The fact that neither the author nor the publishers caught this mistake made me wonder how much of the content of this book is fictional, or simply 'assumed.'
Eminently readable, in the end you should read this book not because it is about great fiction, but because it is a great book.
This book is not really about Balenciaga. I mean, it sort of is, in a round-about way, but it's much more a book about Florette, a prime vendeuse from his original design house. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Onyx Parrot
I read through the entire book thinking how well well written the book is and how fascinating it was that Ms. Mary Blume actually had face time with all these characters in Mr. Read morePublished 6 months ago by pinkrock0111
A memoir by Parisian journalist Mary Blume about the career and life's work of Cristobal BALENCIAGA, and his vendeuse Florette, who dressed the great and rich women of the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Vly Summit
Loved, loved this book. i read it while spending time in France which made the in depth look at the man and the era more exciting. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Iphigenia
Blume has written an immensely readable book (I finished in one sitting). Even while I enjoyed it, ultimately it left me with unanswered questions. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Suburbanbushbabe™
My favorite designer. Book well written. Enjoyable read. I wish Balenciage was still here! His designs were the best ever.Published 17 months ago by Margaret Anne Breuer
I enjoyed this book a great deal. I didn't select it because I had some great love of Balenciaga and his work, but rather because I know him as a style master to the haute... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Glen
The author expertly has woven the material culled from a few that knew him plus finely honed research to a most beautiful tapestry of a true geniusPublished 19 months ago by M. Beck