Dreaming of Dior

Every Dress Tells a Story

Illustrated by: Grant Cowan
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Charlotte Smith had already had more than her fair share of fabulous dresses and adventures. She lived life to the fullest in London, Paris and New York before falling in love with Australia and making it her home.

Then she discovered that she had inherited a priceless vintage clothing collection from her American Quaker godmother, Doris Darnell.

When the boxes started arriving, they were filled with more than three thousand pieces dating from 1790 to 1995, from Dior and Chanel originals to a dainty pioneer dress.

But when she unearthed her godmother’s book of stories, the true value of what she had been given hit home. This wasn’t merely a collection of beautiful things; it was a collection of lives. Women’s lives. Tiny snapshots of our joys and disappointments, our entrances and exits, triumphant and tragic.

This is a book for any woman who knows a dress can hold a lifetime of memories.

Charlotte Smith is Curator of The Fashion and Textile Gallery in Sydney which is also home to The Darnell Collection, the 5000 piece vintage collection Charlotte inherited from her godmother, Doris Darnell. Born in Hong Kong and raised in the United States, Charlotte has a degree from Hollins College in Art History and has lived and worked in America, England, and France for Impressionist art dealers. She moved to Australia in 1998 and opened a shop selling French country antiques. Charlotte has one daughter.

Grant Cowan has worked as an illustrator on magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and Red magazine. He studied fashion design and lived in London before moving to Australia to teach fashion illustration . Grant is a freelance fashion illustrator and works with fashion schools in Sydney.
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Book Details:
  • Atria Books | 
  • 296 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439187555 | 
  • April 2010
List Price $32.99

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Aren't you DREAMING OF DIOR? We are - and so is Charlotte Smith...

An illustrated book about a collection of vintage designer dresses the author inherited from her godmother, with stories of the women who wore them.

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Inheriting a priceless vintage clothing collection containing more than three thousand pieces sounds like every woman’s dream come true.

But all I could think after my American godmother Doris Darnell told me her invaluable legacy was on its way across the world to me was: ‘What on earth am I going to do with it?’

Doris’s collection had been a lifetime labour of love for her, more precious than any treasure I knew of, and she had chosen me as custodian. I was simply overwhelmed.

That is, until the first box arrived at my home in the Blue Mountains. I peeled back the packing tape, pushed aside layers of... see more

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