Dreaming of Dior

Every Dress Tells a Story

Dreaming of Dior

Illustrated by: Grant Cowan
Charlotte Smith had already had more than her fair share of fabulous dresses and adventures. She lived life to the fullest in London, Paris and New York before falling in love with Australia and making it her home.

Then she discovered that she had inherited a priceless vintage clothing collection from her American Quaker godmother, Doris Darnell.

When the boxes started arriving, they were filled with more than three thousand pieces dating from 1790 to 1995, from Dior and Chanel originals to a dainty pioneer dress.

But when she unearthed her godmother’s book of stories, the true value of what she had been given hit home. This wasn’t merely a collection of beautiful things; it was a collection of lives. Women’s lives. Tiny snapshots of our joys and disappointments, our entrances and exits, triumphant and tragic.

This is a book for any woman who knows a dress can hold a lifetime of memories.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 296 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439187579 | 
  • April 2010
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Aren't you DREAMING OF DIOR? We are - and so is Charlotte Smith...

An illustrated book about a collection of vintage designer dresses the author inherited from her godmother, with stories of the women who wore them.

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Inheriting a priceless vintage clothing collection sounds like every woman’s dream come true. But when Charlotte Smith discovered that her American godmother, Doris Darnell, had made her custodian of more than three thousand pieces dating from 1790 to the 1990s, including originals by Chanel and Dior, she was more than a little daunted. Then Charlotte uncovered her first treasure— an exquisite 1920s evening dress—and promptly fell in love. And once she found her...

About the Author

Charlotte Smith

Charlotte Smith is Curator of The Darnell Collection. She was born in Hong Kong to an English mother and an American father. She grew up with her brother and sister on the east coast of America and graduated with a degree in Art History from Hollins College in Virginia. Charlotte has worked for art dealers, ran her own business manufacturing decorative lampshades and was the proprietor of a French country antiques shop. Her interests include horse riding, interior decorating, writing and gardening. She has lived and worked in America, England, France and and now resides in Australia, in the Blue Mountains with her daughter. 

Charlotte's fascination with fashion began with a special vintage dress at the age of three. Since inheriting her godmother's vast vintage clothing collection, her passion for fashion has grown to include the history of fashion and its significant impact on society. Charlotte is involved with exhibitions of her collection around the country, gives lectures and talks, works with fashion and design students and is featured on television and radio. 

Grant Cowan has worked as an illustrator on magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and Red magazine. He studied fashion design and lived in London before moving to Australia to teach fashion illustration. Grant is a freelance fashion illustrator and works  with fashion schools in Sydney.