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The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard by Natasha Lester
Historical fiction

The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard

by Natasha Lester

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Quick take

All that glitters ain’t gold—beneath the glamour of fashion lie forces conspiring to corset women and their ambitions.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FamilyDrama

    Family drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Glamorous

    Glamorous

Synopsis

Everyone remembers her daringly short, silver lamé dress. It was an iconic photo capturing an electric moment, where emerging American designer Astrid Bricard is young, uninhibited, and on the cusp of fashion and feminism’s changing landscape. She and fellow designer Hawk Jones are all over Vogue magazine and New York City’s disco scene. Yet she can’t escape the shadow of her mother, Mizza Bricard, infamous “muse” for Christian Dior. Astrid would give anything to take her place among the great houses of couture—on her own terms. I won’t inspire it when I can create it.

But then Astrid disappeared…

Now Astrid’s daughter, Blythe, holds what remains of her mother and grandmother’s legacies. Of all the Bricard women, she can gather the torn, painfully beautiful fabrics of three generations of heartbreak to create something that will shake the foundations of fashion. The only piece missing is the one question no one’s been able to answer: What really happened to Astrid?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard.
The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard

PROLOGUE

PALACE OF VERSAILLES, FRANCE, NOVEMBER 28, 1973

In the same way that the Electric Circus nightclub in Manhattan is all about sensual overwhelm, so too is the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, Hawk thinks as he strides into the gallery beside four other men. The club’s excess comes from bands like Velvet Underground playing so loudly the music feels like a secondary heartbeat, from the fire-eaters swallowing flames like candy, and from the light show flashing over canvas-draped walls that make you believe the room is leaning inward and, a minute later, that you’re the one who’s on a slant. But the extravagance here is of a different order, manifested in so many mirrors there’s nowhere to hide. Hawk can see himself caught from all sides and reflected a thousand times beneath cathedral-like painted ceilings—the kind that make you feel guilty even when you’ve done nothing wrong.

For one disquieting second, Hawk wonders if this is what it will come down to—a belief that this kind of history makes French couture supreme, versus six American designers trying to show that a dress meant to writhe to the Rolling Stones is what fashion is now. He wants Astrid to saunter in right now and prove that very fact. But where is she?

He glances over at Bill Blass, dressed as always in tweed and tobacco. Beside him is Oscar de la Renta in dignified black, Stephen Burrows in naiveté, and Halston in self-admiration. Hawk knows better than to ask any of them if they’ve seen Astrid.

“Allons-y!” their French chaperone calls disdainfully, as if he’d rather be accompanying Yves Saint Laurent and the rest of the French team, who everyone believes will whip the Americans so completely that not just their clothes, but their skins will be left in ribbons. To tell the truth, some days Hawk thinks that too.

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Why I love it

An important thing to know about me is that I’ve spent years devouring shows like Project Runway. Unfortunately, by comparison, books about fashion are pretty few and far between—believe me, I’d have found them—so it was to my utter delight that I discovered The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard, a historical novel set in the glamorous worlds of New York and Parisian fashion.

Three generations of women stretch across this book, starting in the 1910s with Mizza Bricard. Mizza works her way through French couture houses for decades until she catches the eye of Christian Dior and, subsequently, rises to fame. In 1970s New York, Mizza’s daughter Astrid also launches to stardom, but not the kind she wants. Rather than making a name for herself as a famous designer, she remains in the shadow of her lover, Hawk, billed as his “muse” and never getting credit for her own designs. After years of frustration, on the cusp of what could have been a career-making fashion event, she disappears into thin air. In present-day France, Astrid’s daughter Blythe has done all she can to distance herself from the legacies of her talented-but-complicated family, but she can’t outrun her natural-born gift forever…

I had such fun reading The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard. At its heart, this book is about women finding their voices. Layered over this deeper meaning is quippy, clever dialogue, gorgeous descriptions of elegant dresses, an irresistible backdrop of global fashion capitals, and an intriguing mystery that glimmers like a disco ball.

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