Elsa Schiaparelli was born into a wealthy Roman family. She was a difficult child to manage, always wanting to be noticed, which often involved dangerous antics. Although young girls from well-to-do families were expected to find husbands to take care of them, Elsa again went her own way choosing to marry a charming conman, Dr. Kerlov, although he used several other names. The marriage didn't survive, but learning to live by her wits gave Elsa skills she needed to succeed in the competitive world of couture fashion.
This is a wonderfully comprehensive biography of Elsa from her early years through her success in the couture business and into her old age. My favorite parts were her early years getting insight into how her youthful development led to her ability to succeed in a difficult world. I also enjoyed the descriptions of her fashion experiments. There is no question that she was extremely creative, using feathers and man-made fabrics that other designers eschewed and making them a sensation. The pictures in the book are abundant and do a good job of showing her creations. It's much easier to understand the scope of her work when you can look at the dresses.
Several parts of the book become rather gossipy, particularly the end. I enjoyed learning about her friends and lovers and how she teamed up with artists of the era, but it's a long book and the gossip became a bit tedious.
If you're interested in fashion, or in how the 30's were affected by the coutures, this is an excellent resource.
I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.