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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, 400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Multiple_Viewpoints

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Nonlinear_Timeline

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated 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?

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.

Member ratings (839)

  • Erin M.

    Mechanicsburg, PA

    I wasn’t sure when I started this book but I soon couldn’t put it down! I loved the development of the three female characters’ stories. And the bigger story of what it means to be seen as a woman.

  • Kaitlyn F.

    Jersey City, NJ

    3.5/5 knocking it down bc at times with 3 timelines and many characters could be hard to keep track of who was who (mainly who was reappearing in astrid and blythe life) and because didn’t love blythe

  • Hannah B.

    Walker, MI

    This book was INCREDIBLE!!! I was completely captivated by it! Could NOT put it down! I loved the multiple viewpoints. It made me want to keep going until I knew the entirety of each character’s story

  • Vivian H.

    Winchester, VA

    Historical fiction at its best! Based on the life of Dior’s assistant Mizza, this is a portrait of how men have dominated the fashion industry & marginalized, defamed, & denigrated women designers.

  • Mary L.

    Pottsville , PA

    Stunningly intricate study of women in a world domineered by men. Lester dazzles her readers with the fashion industry of 1970's and the multigenerational journey of the fashion designers connected.

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Historical fiction
View all
Lady Tan’s Circle of Women
The Women
The Lion Women of Tehran
Shelterwood
All We Were Promised
Spitting Gold
The Mayor of Maxwell Street
The Great Divide
The Storm We Made
The Disappearance of Astrid Bricard
Lessons in Chemistry
The Frozen River
What We Kept to Ourselves
The River We Remember
Take My Hand
The Last Russian Doll
The First Ladies
The House Is On Fire
River Sing Me Home
The People We Keep
The Attic Child
Malibu Rising
The Book of Longings
Hester
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
The Nightingale
Daisy Jones & The Six
The Lincoln Highway
The Secret Book of Flora Lea
Did You Hear About Kitty Karr?
The Circus Train
Peach Blossom Spring
Hang the Moon
Booth
The Good Left Undone
Sisters in Arms
The Perishing
The Postmistress of Paris
The Family
Things We Lost to the Water
The Spectacular
Still Life
Send for Me
The Magnolia Palace
The Bookbinder
China Room
This Tender Land
Atomic Love
All the Light We Cannot See
The Vanishing Half
Outlawed
The Four Winds
Independence
The Fountains of Silence
Libertie
Queen of Thieves
The Great Believers
The Clockmaker's Daughter
A Gentleman in Moscow
The Great Alone
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
The Paris Hours
The Heart's Invisible Furies
Rules of Civility
Circling the Sun
The Moor's Account
Jacqueline in Paris
Don't Cry for Me
The Christie Affair
Bloomsbury Girls
The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle
Bronze Drum