THE LAST COLLECTION by Jeanne Mackin – Interview & Giveaway



I’m so excited to share this title with you. I absolutely love Coco Chanel. I own at least a dozen books about her, and I WISH I could afford to buy a Chanel blouse or suit – thus, the books. Jeanne Mackin has written THE LAST COLLECTION (Berkley) and it centers on the rivalry between Coco and Elsa Schisparelli. You knew with all that success and brilliance, there had to be some drama and controversy.

Jeanne Mackin has written, THE LAST COLLECTION (Berkley), the very first in-depth look at the stranger-than-fiction rivalry between Coco Chanel and fellow designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and their battle for the soul of Parisian fashion.

  1. Describe Paris, 1938.

Paris was a city of contrasts in 1938.  In some parts of the city, goats still roamed the streets; the roads were cobbled rather than paved. Other parts of the city were regal, beautiful remnants of the nineteenth century.  Yet Paris was also a very modern city in atmosphere. Everything that was new and exciting in the arts was happening in Paris. Artists, musicians, writers, flocked there from all over the world.  Americans as well, wanted to be there for many reasons: the creativity, the beauty,  the less expensive cost of living, the pleasure-seeking.  American was in the throes of the Great Depression and prohibition.  It was grim and prim.  Paris was wild and fun and creative.

  1. What distinguished Coco and Schiap’s designs?

Coco gets credit for liberating women from the stylistic confines of the 19th century: the corsets, the long skirts, the huge hats that had to be tied on.  Coco, a very athletic woman herself, defined a new type of femininity, with easy-to-wear clothing that liberated the body rather than confining it. Schiap, on the other hand, made clothing fun.  Some of her designs were absolutely wacky:  an evening dress with a huge lobster painted down the front of it (worn by the Duchess of Windsor!),  a hat shaped like a shoe,  white gloves with pink leather tips to look like nail polish.  She made the point that fashion is also art.

  1. Explain couture to the non-fashion person.

A tough question, for a woman who lives in black jeans and boots. For many people, couture implies too expensive for me!  In fact, couture means clothing designed by up-scale houses and designers  (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Steve McQueen) and then custom-made and fitted for their clientele.  It is the opposite, actually, of nameless off-the-rack wear.  And it can be expensive.  That said, fast clothing, as opposed to slow clothing (couture) is harder on the environment, not as well made, and tends to date pretty quickly.  Couture lasts and certainly gives considerable pleasure when it is worn! I’d rather have one custom-made Armani jacket than a whole closet of other black jackets, if anyone is giving one away!

  1. Why do we readers love Historical Fiction?

It transports us. Historical novels allow us to live in other times, other places, to inhabit other lifetimes.  Some people read historical because it is a fun and exciting way to find out more about the world, about history, about where we are now, and how we got here.  When I read great historical fiction I lose track of me, my house, my time…and am truly transported somewhere else for as long as I’m turning those pages!

  1. Explain the process of placing a fictional character/storyline in a non-fictional background.

My historical novels always have a framework of real people and real events upon which I create the fictional story.  My characters, in The Last Collection, for instance, Ania, Lily and Charlie, are fictional characters interacting with the very real characters of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel. The fictional characters, in some ways, become representative of people the two designers might actually have known, and they are important for how they become emblematic of history:  the expatriot Americans, the exiled Poles,  all the people who will eventually become involved in the events of Hitler’s aggressions.   And they become people I am so very emotionally invested in…at some point in the book, usually very quickly, they no longer feel fictional to me.

  1. What are you currently working on?

Another historical novel, this time set in southern France in the 1920’s and moving some fifty years into the future.  Trends of the 20’s – feminism among them, can be traced in a timeline that begins after World War I and ends after World War II.  Like one of my favorite authors, Pat Barker, I like to examine how politics and war are constantly interweaving with and affecting private lives.

  1. Anything you’d like to add?

Thanks for your interest, and the great questions!



Books and stories have always been an important part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I did not have that narrative urge to create stories of my own, and my imagination invariably led me into past events and historical settings. If fiction is about ‘what if,’ my novels have always been inspired by my curiosity about certain people. What if I could have seen that, been there, spoken with her, argued with them? Stories take wing when those people begin to speak back to me, when that voice in my head tells me a narrative is beginning to take shape.

There is so much beauty, so many things of interest and wonder in this world. When I write, I want people to see the beauty and to feel the wonder. The past, with all its stories and voices, leads us to this moment.

Thanks to Berkley Publishing Group we have one copy to giveaway. Just tell us what you love about fashion, or perhaps you really don’t care. We’ll announce a winner soon. Good luck.

GIVEAWAY: USA only please.

36 thoughts on “THE LAST COLLECTION by Jeanne Mackin – Interview & Giveaway

  1. What I love about fashion is seeing how beautifully my three daughters dress to go to work or school. It’s how I would love to dress if I were still in the workforce. They don’t wear high fashion, but they just look so nice. Accessories really do make a difference! I also love to see what celebrities are wearing on the Red Carpet.


  2. I just love clothes! Now that I’m retired I don’t have to deal with deciding what to wear daily and don’t have to shop for work clothes. I love the clothes of the 1950s if I had to go back in time.


  3. I love elegant, classic fashion designs although they’re way out of reach for my budget. Seeing the gorgeous gowns at the award shows is a highlight for me. I’d love to win this book. What a fascinating topic!


  4. I own a copy of this one so am not entering the giveaway, but I love the premise of this book. I am excited to read it it! I am not super fashionable myself, but I look at fashion as a form of art.


  5. I really love to see what the stars are wearing, but for me, I wear what is comfortable and what I like. I’d really love to read this book though.


  6. A long time ago my Mom told me to not throw out my clothes, they’ll come back into style someday. I was like, even bellbottoms?! Yup…she was right (but I still tossed them)!


  7. I love how fashion changes. I also like how elegant it used to be. I love that now, it’s okay to dress in any time period. I see all the trends of certain decades.


  8. I’m really not big on fashion for myself, I’m more into the basics. But I do love seeing Hollywood stars in their gorgeous fashions on the red carpet.


  9. I like watching the celebrities on the Red Carpet. Also seeing more options for those who aren’t a size 0.


  10. I love reading historical fiction and have always been fascinated by fashion since I was a little girl. The designers the storyline is about are names I followed and loved and was always so so excited to see what designs, fabric and their magnificent creations. I would be beyond thrilled to read this book!!


  11. i enjoy seeing the changes which occur each season and classic and smart clothing from the 1950’s is my favorite as well as vintage.


  12. I love how things go out of style, then come back with a new twist! I love classics that never die! I love the glamour of the designers making fabulous gowns/ outfits for royals, stars, the elite!


  13. I love to see what is new in fashion but I don’t get the way-out outfits that I can’t imagine anyone wearing anywhere. I wonder what happens to these clothes?


  14. Such a fascinating but unfamiliar world. As for me, not too interested in wearing the clothes but love to look at pictures and read all about it.


  15. I am not a big fashion person myself. Being a stay at home mom I seem to mainly sport yoga pants and tshirts. I love reading books about fiction fashion like devil wears Prada and watch a few movies about it.


  16. I love the creativity of the designers. I can’t sew at all but I have an eye for design/style. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.