Monday, 23 September 2013

Book Review

Shocked:  My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me
by Patricia Volk

ISBN:  9780307962102 

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House Inc., 2013

Canadian price $32.00


Patricia Volk explores, compares and contrasts the world of two fascinating women: fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli and her mother, Audrey Volk. The two women, who never met each other, made a profound impress on Patricia Volk.

It is a love story. A touching tribute to her mother, the world of art and fashion, and the love of reading. It is a testament to the power of literature and the impact it has on one's memory and world.  

As a child Patricia Volk explains that she was curious of the books that robbed her of time with her mother. Wondering what inside the pages of the books her mother would read she first read Schiaparelli's Shocking Life at the age of ten. Volk revisits the book later in her life and highlights the differences and similarities of these two women.  Audrey believes that a woman must sew whereas Schiaparelli is not "good with a needle" yet takes the fashion world by storm with her wit and vision.

Shocked is a journey back into a long lost era with pearls of wisdom found within its pages. Schiaparelli on the request of a London newspaper offers her daughter and readers advice on the "correct way" to dress.

Only the rich can afford cheap clothes.  If something you see looks worth twice its price, you may be sure the illusion will not last.  What you buy must be good.  Cut is of the first importance, and cut of course implies fit (197).  

Schiaparelli's own advice to her daughter echoes with a eery ominous voice, well before fast-fashion threatened and crushed creativity.

Volk fears that she has let too many family secrets escape towards the end of the book, grasping onto Audrey's age as if it were a cherished family jewel. She shares what is personal and cherished, a mother's advice and her own memories.

Shocked:  My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me is a interesting look at the world of art and fashion from two different roads travelled.

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