The Art of Being a Woman by Patricia Volk
My Mother, Schiaparelli, and Me

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Exquisitely written, this is not an exhaustive biography of Schiaparelli, but it is a compelling snapshot of the groundbreaking designer...
-Guardian

Synopsis

Patricia Volk's glittering memoir, written with charm, panache and wit, juxtaposes the lives of two women - the iconoclastic fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and the author's own mother - to tell the story of how a girl fashions herself into a woman. Patricia Volk's mother Audrey was an upper-middle class New Yorker, a great beauty, a perfectionist, and a polished hostess who believed in women doing things the proper way. The iconoclastic Italian fashion designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, on the other hand, never found a rule she didn't want to break. One of fashion's most radical provocateurs, she was a cultural revolutionary who embodied the 'daring'. For Patricia, who read Schiap's 'scandalous' autobiography, Shocking Life, at a tender age, these two women offered fabulously contrasting lessons in everything from fashion, make-up, lingerie, family and entertaining, to love, sex, superstition and gambling - lessons that would stay with her for the rest of her life. Moving seamlessly between the Volks' 1950s Manhattan home and Schiap's astonishing life in New York, Rome and Paris (among pals like Dali, Duchamp, Picasso), The Art of Being a Woman weaves Audrey's notions of female domesticity with Schiap's groundbreaking creative vision to tell the witty, wise and utterly delightful story of how a young girl learned that there is more than one way to be a woman.
 

About Patricia Volk

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Patricia Volk is the author of the memoir Stuffed: Adventures of a Restaurant Family and four works of fiction. She was a toddler when her mother began wearing ‘Shocking’ perfume by Elsa Schiaparelli and ten years old when she came across Schiaparelli’s autobiography in her mother’s library. She closed the book’s covers transformed... A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Volk has taught at Columbia University, NYU and Bennington and has written for numerous publications. She lives in New York.
 
Published May 2, 2013 by Hutchinson. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs.
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Reviewed by Helen Zaltzman on May 25 2013

Exquisitely written, this is not an exhaustive biography of Schiaparelli, but it is a compelling snapshot of the groundbreaking designer...

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