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The Last Collection

A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel

by Jeanne Mackin

The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin X
The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2019, 352 pages

    Aug 2020, 368 pages


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Page 4 of 6
There are currently 42 member reviews
for The Last Collection
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  • Lil C. (Chestertown, NY)
    Box of Crayons
    You will need your entire box of primary colors to enjoy this very real-feeling novel. Coco & Elsa carry their love hate relationship through a World War and fashion history. Did not put it down...even on vacation.
  • Lisa R. (Lewes, DE)
    The Last Collection a great book group read
    I enjoyed reading this historical fiction book. I knew nothing about the rivalry between Chanel and Schiaparell. The author uses beautifully descriptive language that brings the feud and Paris to life. I believe this would be such a good book great read; it has fashion history, art history and pre-World War II history. It is a colorful, compelling story. Highly recommended.
  • CarmelBaker (Manchester, NH)
    Surprising Threesome: Art, Politics and Fashion
    Of course, everyone has heard of Coco Chanel but Elsa Schiaparelli, not so much, right? One can imagine that there is so much more to the rivalry than what is expressed by Mackin in this novel. If one lacks knowledge of color and art, it is amusing to consider the longing and loneliness in "blue," the passion for life and bravery in "red" and the preciousness and immortality in "yellow." To think that the richness and vibrancy of these primary colors, colors that cannot be "forced or faked," along with the intense political persuasions and drama surrounding pre and post WWII informed the fashion designs created by Coco Chanel and her arch rival Elsa Schiaparelli in the 30s, 40s and 50s is intriguing. Women of the day clearly lived what their couturiers and vendeuses told them, "...dressing well was resistance, revenge, pride, a form of control over the forces that try to control us." Jeanne Mackin has created a believable (undoubtedly well-researched) world where art, politics and fashion collide in a collage of love, heartache, luxury, envy and loyalty. I am left wanting to learn more about Coco and Elsa, not to mention Paris before and after World War II. Ah, to have been at the Durst Ball!
  • Jana G. (Houston, TX)
    Paris, Fashion and on the Brink of War, A Page Turner
    It was a delight to learn of Elsa Schiaparelli and then the rivalry with Coco Chanel. Always a fan of Coco Chanel, this book shed a whole new light on her as a person and the period and place she lived in. I could pretend I was Lily and wonder how I would have entered Paris, thrown into the rivalry with the option of wearing either one of their designs and how I would succeed. Having the backdrop as Paris and being on the brink of war added to depth of the story and provided me the ability to bring this story to life. A very enjoyable read.
  • Teresa G. (Canal Winchester, OH)
    Lots of interesting history in this story
    I wasn't sure what to expect with this story as I am not a "high" fashion person and honestly had never heard of Elsa Schiaparelli. It was very interesting! There is a lot of history about the two designers and their years long feud, along with WWII and their ties to the Nazi's and different political parties at the time. It was a good read!
  • RoseMarie G. (White Plains, NY)
    If You Love Fashion ...
    I am a big fan of historical fiction, especially from WWII era. And I love fashion ... a good mix!
    This was the story of Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, Paris' two leading designers, leading up to the Nazi occupation of this beautiful city. Add a recent American widow visiting her brother, who somehow got mixed up in the designers' rivalry.
    The story spans the pre-war days to America's involvement to life after for Lily, Coco & Elsa.
    If you are a fashion history buff, this book should be on your reading list.
  • Connie L. (Bartlesville, OK)
    Paris, Women and Fashion
    How lovely to be in 1930s Paris. The Last Collection takes you there, and describes the fierce rivalry between fashion designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli. Their lives parallel and yet contrast sharply as drawn by a young woman who comes to the City of Light as a widow, and whose life intersects with both fashion gurus.

    We see the two designers through the narrator's eyes and hear her thoughts as her life intersects with theirs.

    While the writing is evocative and shows originality, it is also a bit uneven and the characters seem somewhat flat. Relationships are complex, though, and the book kept me interested.

    This is a promising book club selection, with much for members to discuss - about competition and friendship and the choices women make.

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