Publication Date: July 5, 2022
A sumptuous novel based on the fascinating true story of La Belle Époque icon Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon, who shattered the boundaries of fashion with her magnificently sensual and enchantingly unique designs.
Lucy Duff Gordon knows she is talented. She sees color, light, and texture in ways few people can begin to imagine. But is the male dominated world of haute couture, who would use her art for their own gain, ready for her?
When she is deserted by her wealthy husband, Lucy is left penniless with an aging mother and her five-year-old daughter to support. Desperate to survive, Lucy turns to her one true talent to make a living. As a little girl, the dresses she made for her dolls were the envy of her group of playmates. Now, she uses her creative designs and her remarkable eye for color to take her place in the fashion world—failure is not an option.
Then, on a frigid night in 1912, Lucy’s life changes once more, when she becomes one of 706 people to survive the sinking of the Titanic. She could never have imagined the effects the disaster would have on her fashion label Lucile, her marriage to her second husband, and her legacy. But no matter what life throws at her, Lucy will live on as a trailblazing and innovative fashion icon, never letting go of what she worked so hard to earn. This is her story.
Lucy Wallace’s motivation for her successful career was based on simple survival. After divorcing her ne’er-do-well husband, she began creating and producing dresses to support herself, her daughter, and her mother.
Her talent for blending colors and fabrics eventually led to her marrying Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon. When Lucy, Cosmo, and her assistant, Celia, survive the sinking of the Titanic, their survival is questioned, and they live under a cloud of suspicion.
It is clear that author Tessa Arlen has deeply researched the events of Lucy’s life. She paints a picture of an imperfect woman who rose to the challenges she encountered. The result is a book that can be a bit slow. However, history buffs will be fascinated with the many recognizable names in Lucy’s life.
Lucy hovers in a tiny world between the wealthy and aristocratic and the working people. Arlen displays a great deal of sympathy for Lucy and her battles. The Duff Gordons were vilified by many of their contemporaries.
Arlen provides us with a kinder take on their lives. Lucy Duff Gordon is not quite a model heroine, but readers come to respect her achievements. A Dress of Violet Taffeta is an interesting glimpse into a time of great change.
Tessa Arlen is the author of the critically acclaimed Lady Montfort mystery series—Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman was a finalist for the 2016 Agatha Award Best First Novel. She is also the author of Poppy Redfern: A Woman of World War II mystery series. And the author of the historical fictions; “In Royal Service to the Queen” and available July 5, 2022 “A Dress of Violet Taffeta.”
Tessa lives in the Southwest with her family and two corgis where she gardens in summer and writes in winter.