Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli

Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad (Julia, Child) team up once again in a new picture book biography of revolutionary fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli. Born in 1890 to a strict, aristocratic family, Elsa's home is "dark and gray." Her older sister, Beatrice, is "Mamma's favorite," because she is "bella" (beautiful), while the disappointing Elsa can only be considered "brutta" (ugly). Elsa, ignored but surrounded by the beautiful colors of Rome, grows up with a vivid imagination and appreciation for the beauty in everyday items: "I am an explorer, a circus performer, and even the night sky. Dress up. Pretend. Make believe. The world feels brighter." As an adult, Elsa leaves home to travel the world, braving rejection and poverty to create her groundbreaking and modern fashion. "Boundless, unstoppable," she experiments with unusual fabric combinations, colors and shapes. Lace and leather, wool and cellophane, "WHY NOT a shoe on my head, a coat with many drawers, a lobster dress?" Overcoming doubts, Elsa creates fashion that is also art and, at the "late-blooming" age of 37, her innovations take the fashion world by storm.

Morstad's (When Green Becomes Tomatoes) lush illustrations match Maclear's enlightening narrative. Using liquid watercolor, gouache and pencil crayons in an early 20th-century stencil treatment called pochoir, her illustrations rise and fall with Elsa's emotional and artistic journey, some pages spare and gray, others a riot of color. For readers who want to go deeper, the back matter includes an author and illustrator note, endnotes, sources and further reading. Together Maclear and Morstad have created a picture book that, like Elsa's art, is "daring, different, and whole" and that reminds us that "together, we BLOOM and BLOOM." --Jennifer Oleinik, freelance writer and editor

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