The Last Collection – A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel ,

Paris, 1938. Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli (“Schiap”) are fighting for recognition as the most successful and influential fashion designer in France, and their rivalry is already legendary. They oppose each other at every turn, in both their politics and their designs: Chanel’s are classic, elegant, and practical; Schiaparelli’s bold, experimental, and surreal. Lily Cooper, a recently widowed American teacher, travels to Paris to visit her brother, Charlie, and try to move on from the loss of her husband. On her first day there, Charlie insists on buying her a couture dress for her birthday — a Chanel. Lily reluctantly agrees but wants a Schiaparelli, not a Chanel. Charlie’s Jewish girlfriend, Ania, one of the most beautiful and prominent women in Paris, begins wearing Schiap’s designs as well, and soon much of Paris is following in her footsteps. Adding insult to injury, Chanel has her eye on Baron von Dincklage, the head of Nazi propaganda in Paris, with whom Ania is also involved. Schiap takes an interest in Lily and offers the budding artist a job at her shop. Suddenly, Lily finds herself wrapped up with Schiap and her personal war with Chanel. And as their fierce competition reaches new and dangerous heights, another war is looming on their doorstep and getting closer every day…

Fashion lovers will enjoy descriptions of the design of clothing and accessories and the machinations of running fashion houses before World War II.