Read advance reader review of The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin, page 6 of 6

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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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There are currently 42 member reviews
for The Last Collection
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  • Eileen F. (Media, PA)
    War and Pieces
    The Last Collection was a fascinating read about two fashion industry icons in pre-WWII Paris. The Nazis were coming and Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel were expressing their feelings about that through high fashion and their often often dangerous rivalry. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of their collections and the reasoning behind the creation of them. This book would interest readers interested in women's roles during WWII and the history of high fashion.
  • Debra V. (Ft. Myers, FL)
    Great vacation read
    Loved The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin—The story is told through the perspective of a young widow and artist who develops a relationship with Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel. If you love clothes you will love this book. The descriptions of the couture fashions are amazing. Some of the dresses are in museums now. The story is also good (and historically accurate) with the coming occupation of Paris adding tension. Well written and worth reading.
  • Donna W. (Wauwatosa, WI)
    The Last Collection
    This was an easy read, and I learned a lot about the fashion scene in Paris in the era of the war. Schiaparelli and Chanel came across as interesting and complicated women. Unfortunately, Lily, the main character wasn't quite as appealing.

    She seemed superficial and for the most part not that interesting. It was hard for me to believe she would have come to be so closely involved with both of these fashion icons in such a short period of time.

    The book really was more an historical fiction story about the war and the fashion industry was only a side note.

    That said, I enjoyed the book, and anyone interested in that era in Paris would like the book.
  • Nancy A. (Berkeley, CA)
    The Last Collection
    I enjoyed the mix of the historical personalities and events with the life of the main character. Of course, everyone knows about Coco Chanel, but I never knew about the rivalry between her and Elsa Schiaparelli. Somehow the main character did not seem quite as interesting as the times she lived in and the people she met.
  • Katherine P. (Post Mills, VT)
    Sometimes There is Too Much Color
    At one point the author in discussing a painting mentions that a thin wash of gray can make the background recede more from the foreground. It was as though a thin wash of gray lay between the story and the reader. It felt as though everything was being told through the heavy grief of this guilt ridden widow. Yet, though unable to paint because of it, she sees vibrant color everywhere and mentions it endlessly, as though to show the reader just how many colors she can recite. For all the vibrancy and emotions this should have evoked it all remained bland--the words said there was excitement or foreboding or passion or anger and yet those things were not evoked in the reader. The most arousing moment was the one in which Coco sets the tree afire. It was hard to get through this book. The Women of Paris is much better if you want an idea of Paris before and during German Occupation.
  • Cheryl M. (Le Claire, IA)
    The Last Collection
    Lily starts her adult life with regret and reminders of the death of her newlywed husband. She gets a second chance at reawakening her passions in the couture fashion industry in Paris just before the Nazi Germany invasion. As an artist, she thinks in primary colors red, yellow, blue, and the emotions they evoke. Then, as she begins to live again, she adds in the secondary colors, whose meaning follow the blended meanings of their primary colors. A light wash of gray adds fogginess to a picture…and maybe life?

    She goes to Paris to visit her brother who is studying to be a doctor. He experiences true love, and the extravagances of wealth, through his married girlfriend Ania. He takes Lilly to the House of Chanel, favored by Ania, to buy her an elegant party dress. However, Lilly wants a dress by Schiaparelli. The two designers are enemies in business and social circles. Lily acts as a neutral party to help each understand the other.

    We follow Lily's life through the difficult times of friends and countries with opposite ideas and choices:  the classical, elegant, and practical vs the bold, experimental, and surreal. It is a time of connections and alliances, different backgrounds and futures, life and death. What choices do we make? How will it affect our future? How do we move forward? Lily learns a great deal as she and her friends and family deal with the effects of WWII. Our choices remain with us forever and some are forgiven, others are not.
  • Joan P. (Owego, NY)
    The Last Collection
    I found this an interesting story about the rivalry between two famous couturiers in the days before Paris fell to the Germans in WWII. It captures the sense of foreboding while Parisians waited for the inevitable. I would have rated it higher if the writing had been better. The narrator was an artist and seemed to need a color before every noun. Annoying and heavy handed. The fictional love stories seemed contrived and in some cases unbelievable. What she did well was capture a time and culture and a Paris that will never be the same.

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