Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of Stuffed:
an intimate, richly illustrated memoir, written with charm and panache, that juxtaposes two fascinating lives—the iconoclastic designer Elsa Schiaparelli and the author’s own mother—to explore how a girl fashions herself into a woman.
Audrey Morgen Volk, an upper-middle-class New Yorker, was a great beauty and the polished hostess at her family’s garment district restaurant. Elsa Schiaparelli—“Schiap”—the haute couture designer whose creations shocked the world, blurred the line between fashion and art, and believed that everything, even a button, has the potential to delight.
Audrey’s daughter Patricia read Schiap’s autobiography, Shocking Life, at a tender age, and was transformed by it. These two women—volatile, opinionated, and brilliant each in her own way—offered Patricia contrasting lessons about womanhood and personal style that allowed her to plot her own course.
Moving seamlessly between the Volks’ Manhattan and Florida milieux and Schiap’s life in Rome and Paris (among friends such as Dalí, Duchamp, and Picasso), Shocked weaves Audrey’s traditional notions of domesticity with Schiaparelli’s often outrageous ideas into a marvel-filled, meditation on beauty, and on being a daughter, sister, and mother, while demonstrating how a single book can change a life.
About the Author
An NPR Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
How does a girl fashion herself into a woman? In this richly illustrated memoir, writer Patricia Volk juxtaposes her two childhood idols to find her answer. Her mother, Audrey, was an upper-middle-class New Yorker and a great beauty—meticulously groomed, proudly conventional. Elsa Schiaparelli was an avant-garde fashion designer whose creations broke every rule and elevated clothing into art. While growing up in Audrey's strict household, Patricia read Schiap's freewheeling autobiography and was transformed by it.
Shocked weaves Audrey's traditional notions of domesticity with Schiap's often outrageous ideas, giving us a revelatory meditation on beauty and on being a daughter, sister, and mother—and demonstrating, meanwhile, how a single book can change a life.