Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli

illus. by Julie Morstad. 40p. bibliog. notes. photos. HarperCollins/Harper. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062447616.
K-Gr 2—This stunningly illustrated picture book biography on fashion pioneer Elsa Schiaparelli opens on a melancholy tone that is carried through much of the story—her parents were disappointed that she was born a girl. The first-person narration adds tenderness and a sense of intimacy to the story, but holes exist in this telling, which focuses to a fault on Schiaparelli's childhood and development. When the adult Schiaparelli quits jobs, divorces, or moves locations quickly, these experiences are quickly passed over in the narrative. Likewise, the significant financial support she received from friends and from her mother is not mentioned. This might have been forgiven if the text had dedicated more space to Schiaparelli's design achievements and creative partnerships, but this information is primarily found in the helpful endnotes and in Morstad's dreamily expressive and colorful painted figures and clothing ensembles, not in the main text. If this biography has strength, it is that it does not eschew the value of beauty, but redefines it in new a context. Ultimately, Maclear's narrative does not keep pace with Morstad's delightful artwork.
VERDICT Large picture book biography collections with an interest in fashion may want to consider.

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