Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli

The best picture book biographies introduce readers to people who they might not learn about in textbooks. A great example is Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Julie Morstad.


Born in Rome, Italy, Elsa Schiaparelli felt her family preferred her older sister. In fact, she thought she was ugly and when she was seven she covered her face, ears, nose, and mouth with flower seeds in an effort to make herself more attractive. All the seeds did was make her sick, but it showed how she could think outside the box. After she grew up, Elsa used her creative spirit to design beautiful, innovative clothing that turned the fashion world of Paris on its ear.

For the most part, Kyo Maclear’s first person text is enjoyable and informative. Julie Morstad’s gouache, watercolor and pencil illustrations are a perfect reflection of Elsa Schiaparelli’s artistic and creative talent. They aren’t static, but zoom in and out in scale. The focus moves from close up of faces to a panorama of the night sky and back again.

Like a fresh flower, Bloom is a delight to behold. It is sure to inspire young readers to try their hands at clothing design.

See Wrapped in Foil blog for suggested activities to accompany Bloom.