New York Fashion Week kicks off this Friday, so we’ve decided to celebrate with a little Q&A with Little Bee Books author Deborah Blumenthal. Deborah is the author of Fancy Party Gowns, Polka Dot Parade and the forthcoming Parrots, Pugs and Pixie Dust, all picture book titles that celebrate fashion history.
Deborah, a style and beauty columnist for the New York Times, and contributor to magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Vogue, has a true passion for fashion and the visionaries who make it happen, which comes across in her picture books. We asked her a few questions to get a glimpse inside the sparkling and storied world of high style.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to write picture books about icons in the world of fashion and style?
A: I’m drawn to write about people who are passionate about their work. That was my motivation behind my books on Ann Cole Lowe, Bill Cunningham, and Judith Leiber, more than the fact that they all worked in fashion and style, which was secondary.
Q: Why do you think it’s important for children to know the histories and biographies of these icons?
A: I hope kids will connect in some way with the little-known stories of iconic figures. In the case of Ann Cole Lowe, I’m hoping they will enjoy learning about the way she played with scraps of fabric and began making fabric flowers when she was just a little girl, or the way Judith Leiber used her interest in creating art as an escape hatch from her harsh everyday world as a Jewish child forced into captivity in Hungary during World War II.
Q: Can you identify one fashion designer or label as your single favorite? If so, who or which is it?
A: I’m a big Armani fan.
Q: What is your favorite piece of little-known fashion trivia or history?
A: There’s a wonderful story which I allude to in Polka Dot Parade, about Bill Cunningham spotting a woman wearing a nutria coat and being so taken with the cut of the shoulders that he didn’t realize the woman wearing it was Greta Garbo.
Q: Parrots, Pugs, and Pixie Dust, which tells the story of Judith Leiber — a holocaust survivor and influential purse designer — goes on sale later this month. Do you have a particular favorite of Judith’s many dazzling pieces?
A: All of her bags are fabulous, but the Windflower bag is one of my favorites.