Girl In Dior is a dreamy book—a frothy, flighty confection full to the brim with evening dresses and post-war Parisian vignettes. It doesn’t amount to much story-wise, but that is by no means the point. It achieves its goal: to be precise, lovely, and light, much like a Dior dress. If you head into it looking for a juicy play by play of Christian Dior’s rise to fame, it will be a disappointment. But, if you head in with few expectations and an eye for getting swept up in style, you may have a delightful time.

The girl in question is the fictional Clara Nohant, rising from the lowly ranks of reporter to work as an assistant to Dior’s personal secretaries and become a runway model, then  stumbling happily into an aristocratic marriage. This storyline is a great and fairly subtle way to look at a fashion genius’s creative process from many angles. Clara reports on the critical reactions to his hemlines—“we didn’t work through the war for THIS”—and interacts with the women who handle the nuts and bolts of the House of Dior and, more importantly, showcases the fashions themselves as a model. Having done so, she and the reader are finally able to enjoy Dior’s work as the necessary and somewhat ravenous consumer. Of course, it’s all a fantasy to showcase Dior’s rise to worldwide recognition, but it is so well told that it seems like it could be true. I was actually a bit embarrassed (and oddly disappointed) to realize it was fictional when I reached the end! It’s seamlessly told—I strongly feel as though Audrey Hepburn would be the perfect woman to star in a silver screen adaptation of this delightfully cinematic comic.

More important than the framework of the story, however, are the visuals. Annie Goetzinger has an excellent eye for the details, and takes a clear delight in recreating Dior’s sketches of dresses, suits, skirts, hats, and other elements of what it meant to wear high fashion in the mid-century—not only the moments on the runaway, but the backstage exchanges and the street scenes are beautiful and meticulously constructed. Furthermore, the colorwork is beyond perfect, mostly done in pencils and pastels, where just the slightest hint of boldness can take your breath away. Goetzinger clearly did her research, and enjoyed the task; there are extensive footnotes and a bibliography at the end of the story.

Girl In Dior is a unique melange of fashion history and aesthetic fantasy that may appeal to creators of all stripes and style and aficionados of all ages. But there are plenty of folks who have no interest in how a dress goes from a sketch, to the runway, and to its wearer. I suppose they are simply missing out. Girl In Dior is an engrossing look into a world you might not know you could care quite so much about.

Girl In Dior
by Annie Goetzinger
ISBN: 9781561639144
NBM Publishing, 2015

  • Emilia Packard

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Emilia has been reading graphic novels rabidly since her best friend handed her Craig Thompson’s Blankets over winter break during her sophomore year of college. From that day, her fate was sealed — at Grinnell College, she created, edited and drew strips for a student comics magazine called The Sequence. As an MLS Student at the University of Illinois, she spent way too much time filling up her backpack (and her roommate’s backpack) with the treasures of the Undergrad Library’s comics collection — never less than 40 books at a time. Just in the past few years, she’s worked at libraries and archives in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, Indiana, and Austin, Texas and consumed their graphic novels collections with great gusto. She has been drawing her stick-figure avatar, Flippy-Do, since she was about 10 years old.

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