In the afterword, Canadian author Szado writes that she based the following scene (in Mignonne's voice) on something that a real designer, Valentina Schlee, did at around the same time.
|One of Valentina Schlee's iconic creations|
'Madame announced, "Allow me to present the first item in my Butterfly Collection."
"Very glamorous for a red carpet entrance," I said, "and a dramatic departure in your limousine."
Binty watched dispassionately. Consuelo was rapt, Madame anxious.
When I was sure Consuelo had taken her fill of the heavy detailing, I slipped off the jacket and placed it on the remaining empty armchair. Now I was wearing only the black blouse and the long velvet skirt.
"Perfect for an elegant evening with your husband," I said.
Consuelo put her fingers together in a steeple and smiled from behind them as I rolled my hips to catch the light in the velvet pile.
Then in one smooth motion, I pulled the blouse straight off, over my head, and dropped it onto the chair. "Or a special evening with someone else's husband." I twirled in the velvet skirt and my sleek black corselet.'
|Isn't this Valentina|
I didn't notice any awkward parts in Studio Saint-Ex. It is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of interesting people, both real and fictional. It also prompted me to dream one night that I was hand stitching a garment, and to look up images of Valentina's work, since she was mentioned in the novel.
Readalikes: The Big Why (Michael Winter); The Paris Wife (Paula McLain); and Z (Therese Fowler). An obvious companion read is The Little Prince; I like the graphic novel adaptation by Joann Sfar. Readers who want more on fashion will enjoy Linda Grant's collection of essays, The Thoughtful Dresser.