Lovefool 06.01.15 | Vogue

A young reporter gets swept up in the world of high-fashion against the backdrop of post-war austerity in Annie Goetzinger’s lush new graphic novel Girl in Dior.

 

 

I know, I know. In my defense, May has been an absurdly busy month involving two trips out of town, four shows, two baseball games, an Ink & Drink, and, oh, hey, a massive project at work, nbd, and I really, really need for life to be just a little less fun. A hair. A smidge. This is the first weekend I’ve had to just kind of hang around my house and get things done in absolute eons and I’m including attending Ladies’ Comic Night and two trips to Home Depot in “hanging around my house.” I mean, it’s still Belleville, right? (Sidebar: do dudes feel like it’s confrontational when someone asks them what comics they’re reading? I always feel like ladies take it is as kind of a test of their nerdness. Like they’re being quietly judged, more than their male counterparts, when someone busts out “so what do you read?” I know when I ask it, I genuinely want to know what someone’s reading because I’m interested, not because I want to measure, you know?) So, yeah, quiet weekend. I did some gardening. I made some vegan sausages. I just threw the dough for what’s going to become buns for those sausages on the back of the stove to think about becoming bread.
Well, the last two were because I got completely overwhelmed by the book I read for today’s column. I read it, my brain fired up and I opened this word processing window and just kind of…stared at it for a minute. Okay. Plan B, then. I closed my laptop so I could go work with my hands while I processed what I’d just read.
I’d been offered a digital copy of Annie Goetzinger’s Girl in Dior to review last winter and I was so excited about this book that it was tempting but I decided to wait for the hardcopy. Well, it arrived with the sunshine and I was absolutely right to wait. While I’m sure that this book looks amazing any way you’re looking at it, it’s so lovely in physical form that it gives me chills to glance over and see it on my end-table. The cover is the most beautiful two-toned Dior grey with the title print shade matching the spine’s darker cloth, obviously, and our Audrey-esque heroine, Clara, twirling one of Monsieur Dior’s famously full New Look skirts behind the Dior logo. “Girl in” is very much a design afterthought, but since there’s an actual girl in Dior right there and she’s the focus of the cover, it’s still communicated. As we all know, I’m a fool for a stunning book and this is easily one of the most beautiful ones I’ve seen in a while.
Girl in Dior tells the story of Clara, a post-war fashion journalist who gets what could be her big break covering the first Dior fashion show. After successfully covering her first fashion show and then rather unsuccessfully completing another task, she’s soon swept up into this incredible high-fashion world and it’s hard to tell which is more striking—the ease with which Goetzinger captures Dior’s stunning high-fashion designs or the way she makes the world that they happen in, both outside The House of Dior and within, matter. Dior put on his first show in 1947, when the world was still in the shadow of World War II, and that context very much matters here. In a time when austerity had been a legally mandated way of life for years, a twenty-yard crimson silk skirt was a statement. And it wasn’t one that everyone understood or appreciated in a time of breadlines, which Goetzinger thankfully doesn’t shy away from.
Given a glimpse of the recovering world that Christian Dior began making clothes in (not quite for—the people who were dealing with the harsh realities of post-war Europe weren’t exactly his customers), we’re quickly brought inside the charming world he created inside his first studio. He famously treated his employees and models like family and we’re introduced to the key players in Dior’s world in an honest and amusing way while learning a little bit about how glam fashion springs into the world. (Answer: it doesn’t, it happens with a lot of work from a lot of people.) And it’s farther and farther into this world that Clara and the readers journey, only to come to the other side as we find ourselves sitting with Clara at a Dior show, only in a remarkably different set of circumstances.
No one can model forever, even if Dior’s “young ladies” were so well treated they tried to, so of course Clara leaves the world of fashion to go live in another world. She moves from pins and pumps to the rarefied domain of England’s aristocracy, only to return to the House of Dior as a treasured guest. It’s a terribly romantic story, in every sense of the word, and it stars awfully charming people—Dior and his cast of characters aren’t perfect but they’re likeable. They’re presented as a hard-working team bringing beauty into the world through methods that may seem semi-mad to us mortals in our hoodies and jammy pants on a Sunday afternoon. Their story, this piece of historical half-fiction, is made so engaging by the way we move from big picture fashion history to the bleak-but-brightening world outside of Dior’s dressing rooms to intimate dinners crashed by Hollywood stars. And it’s all beautifully done in Goetzinger’s sweeping watercolor style, a style that makes you almost feel like you could touch the page your fingers would sweep across satin. | Erin Jameson

 

Click here for a preview of Girl in Dior, courtesy of NBM!

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