Books & Review
Updated: Feb 08, 2013 05:35 AM EST

Author Mary Blume

Author Mary Blume is shown in this undated handout photo courtesy of Farrar, Struas and Giroux February 6, 2013.
(Photo : REUTERS/Brigitte Lacombe/Handout)

Author Mary Blume's "The Master of Us All" is based on fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga. The book borrows its title from  a quote designer Christian Dior frequently used to describe Balenciaga. The author speaks to Reuters about what inspired her to write about the fashion designer.

When Mary Blume moved from New York to Paris, she was introduced to Florette Chelot, a woman who knew Cristobal Balenciaga well, she was his top saleswoman and confidant.  Blume took Chelot's many conversations about Balenciaga over the last 40 years and has now compiled what is believed to be a very well researched book. The book reveals the true personality of the designer.

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Blume admits that she saw very little of Florette after the house of Balenciaga closed, and it took time for Florette to realize that she had witnessed more than a few minutes of the historic making and functioning of the house of Balenciaga. Blume said that Balenciaga's mysterious personality was what compelled her to write a book on him. While everyone knew of his work, very little was known about the man who created all those masterpieces.

Blume was surprised to find out from Balenciaga's friends that he was a very jovial person and had a great sense of humor, when he always appeared to be serious and strict. People that Blume spoke to for matter for the book revealed that while he was very kind to his models, he was often rude to his saleswomen. However, everyone agreed that he mostly always spoke about fashion but not in a "gossipy" way.

The author observes that fashion shows these days are very different from what they used to be when Balenciaga held his earlier fashion shows. "But it's a show, a real show ... and they weren't before. They were just girls marching out, turning and going back. It happened every afternoon for a month or so after the real (clients) had been there," says Blume.

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